Volvo Penta embarks on sustainable tourism trial with hybrid vessel

Volvo Penta has developed a hybrid solution for adventure company Hurtigruten Svalbard’s new sightseeing vessel, which will be pilot tested in Svalbard in May 2022.

The company says the new, near-silent state-of-the-art hybrid Marell M15 vessel called Kvitbjørn (polar bear in English), has the potential to transform the sustainable tourism industry, allowing guests to experience the remote archipelago in Norway without disturbing the nature and habitat around them.

Powered by a Volvo Penta twin D4-320 DPI Aquamatic hybrid solution, the boat has a top speed of 32 knots and a cruising speed of 25 knots. Designed and built by Marell Boats Sweden AB, the vessel will be tailored to the customer’s needs, ensuring it is robust enough to operate safely in the sub-zero temperatures of the Arctic environment and have a range of 500 Nm.

This is Hurtigruten Svalbard’s first hybrid day tour vessel powered by Volvo Penta and allows for fully electric operation in the environmentally sensitive waters of Svalbard.

“As we advance our ESG agenda in Hurtigruten Group, it’s crucially important that we work with partners that share our values and ethos,” says CEO of Hurtigruten Group Daniel Skjeldam. “We are thrilled to be working with Volvo Penta as they take sustainable marine engineering to a new level. And what a fitting place to test this hybrid vessel – the beautiful but fragile Svalbard, which is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.”

The companies are also trialling a new business model, based on a ‘power-by-the-hour’ payment programme, where Hurtigurten trials paying by the kilowatt-hour for its operation. This model is still at the concept stage but could see future development down the line.

“Our aim is to be the world leader in sustainable power solutions and to do this we want to partner with companies that have the vision and courage to join us,” adds Jonas Karnerfors, sales project manager at Volvo Penta. “With Hurtigruten Group we’ve got a perfect collaborator. In addition to leading-edge technology, we’re also able to pilot a new business model with them, through the ‘power-by-the-hour’ payment programme. This gives us the chance to learn how this model works in a real-world context, helping us to determine if this is a viable concept for the future.”

Volvo Penta installing a hybrid propulsion system. Credit: Emelie Asplund

The interfaces between the hybrid drive and supporting systems were developed through a close collaboration between Marell Boats and Volvo Penta, including the charging, ventilation, heating, and air-conditioning systems.

The complete power drivetrain solution for the vessel is based on the Volvo Penta D4/D6 Aquamatic DPI package and features a hydraulic clutch, said to be ideal for silent and smooth shifting at low engine speeds, and steer-by-wire technology.

The boat is currently at Volvo Penta’s marine test facility in Krossholmen, Gothenburg, Sweden. Prior to its May 2022 delivery, it will undergo further checks at Marell Boats in Östhammar before Hurtigruten Svalbard takes ownership of the vessel.

Comments are closed.