New gen-sets ease marine vessel electric propulsion installation

By Becky Schultz01 September 2022

Volvo Penta variable-speed marine generator sets enable vessels to be built with smaller battery banks and charged on the move

Volvo Penta variable-speed marine generator set The new gen-set range will initially include models extending from the 190 kWe D8 to the 545 kWe D16. (Photo: Volvo Penta)

Volvo Penta has launched a new range of variable-speed marine generator sets that it said will allow shipyards to more easily and cost-effectively install hybrid-electric modular propulsion systems in marine vessels by enabling the vessels to be built with smaller battery banks and charged while on the move. Because of their modular installation, the gen-sets are also reported to be the most compact solutions available that meet the latest IMO Tier III regulations.

The new range will initially include models extending from the 190 kWe D8 to the 545 kWe D16. Their Volvo Penta water-cooled diesel engines can run on HVO 100 fuel, reducing CO2 emissions by up to 90% compared to standard diesel, according to the company. 

A typical installation of the technology includes using the variable-speed marine gen-sets to power electric drives with or without battery packs. This direct current (DC) grid system can be upgraded with alternative power sources plus has fewer components, resulting in reduced vessel weight, particularly when compared to batteries as the sole energy carrier, said Volvo Penta. The modular installation also creates the option to use the minimum number of engines to deliver required power, enabling the gen-sets to run in the efficiency “sweet spot.”

The new gen-set technology is already in use by customers, Volvo Penta noted, including by Swedish Transport Administration in the 100 m-long Tellus ferry operating in Sweden, and MHO-Co as part of the propulsion system for two 34.4 m-long hybrid crew transfer vessels.

“By making our Volvo Penta variable-speed marine generator sets more widely available, it takes us further forward in our journey towards more electric- and fuel-cell propulsion for the marine industry,” commented Johan Inden, head of the Volvo Penta marine business. “Now, more vessels will be able to install modular hybrid propulsion systems ready to be adapted to future energy choices, meanwhile delivering important sustainability and fuel efficiency gains from day one.”

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