A new hybrid-electric vessel, Kvitbjørn, has begun sightseeing tours in Arctic waters for Hurtigruten Svalbard. The Marell M15, a result of three years of collaboration between the travel firm, power provider Volvo Penta, and Marell Boats, has a range of 500 nautical miles, a cruising speed of 24 knots, and a top speed of 30 knots.
Volvo Penta has supplied a complete power system from helm to propeller. The D4-320 DPI Aquamatic setup incorporates engine and driveline, electronic control system, joystick control, dynamic positioning, and driver interface.
The companies are also trying out a new business model based on a power-by-the-hour payment scheme. Hurtigruten Svalbard will pay for the vessel by the kilowatt-hour. The conceptual e-mobility-as-a-service model is seen to have potential as a means of sharing the higher upfront costs of hybrid installations between Volvo Penta and its customers, particularly early adopters of new technology.
Johan Inden, president of the Volvo Penta Marine Business Unit, said: “We must undertake pilot programmes like this collaboration with Hurtigruten Svalbard and Marell Boats. We’re looking at the bigger picture here, it’s not just about testing a hybrid propulsion system, it’s about looking at how we can adapt our unique features – the dynamic positioning system and joystick for instance – for hybrid and electric use.”
Volvo Penta hybrid vessel commissioned for Arctic sightseeing tours