Fast charging-at-sea feasibility

Niklas Thulin, Director Electromobility at Volvo Penta

A new collaborative partnership is to conduct a feasibility study on fast charging-at-sea.

Volvo Penta, ABB and Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg will work together to assess whether electric charging technology used on Volvo Buses’ electric bus routes could be adapted for marine applications.

“While all-electric boating remains in its infancy, for this exciting new transport system to be a success and grow, a network of fast charging stations needs to be developed,” says Niklas Thulin, Director Electromobility, Volvo Penta. “Identifying the more promising solutions will be the challenge of the one-year project, which is being partly funded by the Swedish Energy Agency.”

“We believe we can leverage proven technology from the Volvo Group to develop hybrid & electric solutions onboard,” continues Thulin. “But the need for infrastructure, standards, and regulations are critical to accelerate this shift. The commercial boat owner or vessel operator of the future will need to be able to charge in a similar way from city-to-city or harbour-to-harbour. This charging infrastructure could also be shared with on-road applications, for example electric buses using the same fast charging solution as electric ferries. Based on the existing knowledge of charging infrastructure within the Volvo Group, we aim to be a leading voice in setting the scene for this transformational shift.”

It is envisaged, on completion of the study, that the fast charging technology will be incorporated into Gothenburg’s Marine Demo Arena and become part of the ElectriCity public transport network.

“ABB is committed to running the world without consuming the Earth, and to further enhancing energy efficiency and emission reduction for shipping with electric, digital and connected technologies,” says Jörgen Karlsson, Head of Sales, ABB Marine Sweden. “Chalmers has a strong background in electric power engineering and is already involved in the development of different charging technologies for land vehicles, together with our industrial partners,” says Yujing Liu, professor and head of Electrical Machines and Power Electronics at Chalmers University of Technology. “In this collaboration project, we will review all feasible solutions and identify the technology path towards the first installation of marine applications in the ElectriCity demo arena and future scale-up. The potential to utilize emerging technologies such as automatic docking and wireless power transfer will be investigated.”

With a combination of high currents and saltwater, safety of the equipment will clearly be a high priority for the project. Although the project is only just at the inception stage, it is already clear that any final technology adopted will be open source; helping to speed up the adoption of electromobility globally.