Leisure Boat Collaborations for Progressive Innovation in Hybrid & Other Technologies

Source: www.gulfoilandgas.com 8/31/2022, Location: Europe

At Volvo Penta, we aim to lead the marine industry into an era of sustainable propulsion so we can help protect the health of oceans and other waters. With so many different use cases across oceanic, coastal, lake, river and other environments, there is no silver-bullet solution. So we’re thinking broadly, we’re collaborating and we’re committed to innovating multi-faceted solutions across multiple technologies and energy sources – to help make a healthy environment the central part of a premium boating experience.

Electromobility is one of the exciting changes transforming our industry and we have already begun several real-world pilot projects with commercial operators – for example with Arctic ecotourism operator Hurtigruten Svalbard and with crew transfer vessel operator MHO-Co. Volvo Penta is also collaborating with multiple boat builders around the world to develop hybrid-electric solutions for leisure boating. This includes working with boat builders on their ‘hybrid ready concepts’ that prepare boat model designs and specifications for our future marine electromobility solutions.

“Leisure boat builders are exploring electromobility options and the solutions will be more bespoke to deliver a certain experience or support a specific use case compared to the current market,” says Johan Inden, head of the Volvo Penta marine business.

“Understanding the needs of each use case is critical. The boat design and energy source on board need to match the desired experience on the water. From our side, there will still be a strong element of standardization in our approach. We are developing a common architecture through our Electronic Vessel Control System (EVC), ensuring the balance between a scalable electromobility platform and a tailored experience. This will allow us to shift out components but keep commonality on the platform, allowing builders to standardize build processes, just like today.”

This transition is more complex than simply changing the power source. Advances in legislation and widespread availability of charging infrastructure are also key to success. With this in mind, the introduction of hybrid-electric marine solutions and other alternatives to traditional propulsion will be progressive, rather than coming to market in one big bang.

Johan Inden said: “Future leisure boat solutions will benefit greatly from what Volvo Penta is learning from the broader Volvo Group electromobility and alternative energy expertise, and from our collaboration that leverages competence from partners and industry pioneers, such as Danfoss Editron and ZEM.

“It’s a gradual process of innovation, piloting, learning, adjusting and then scaling. Strong collaboration is important and we’ve been learning a lot since day one of our discussions with boat builders. One key takeaway is that the best outcome for the environment won’t always be electrified. Different vessels, different purposes and different use cases, need diverse types of energy.

“For example, since 2016, all Volvo Penta engines have been certified to use HVO (hydro-treated vegetable oil) fuel as an alternative to standard diesel. One version, HVO 100, is produced only from sustainable crops that don’t compete with edible crops. This shows why the future of energy is not only about electric. HVO is hard to secure so we’re also looking into hydrogen, green methanol and other mainstream renewable fuel solutions for marine use,” he said.

Johan continued: “This progressive flow of future innovation extends beyond energy source, because the customer experience is also evolving along with expectations. We’ll continue applying our Volvo Penta attention to detail on a suite of seamless and intuitive boating features that deliver ease of use. Industry changes of this magnitude are ripe with opportunity and we’ll be taking every advantage to reimagine the premium boating experience, from helm to prop.”

Science-based targets and Group strength
At Volvo Penta, we’re working step by step towards hybrid and electric solutions at sea, while also testing the use of renewable fuels. This is part of how we aim to achieve our ambition to be a net-zero emissions company by 2050 – in line with the wider Volvo Group’s commitments to the Science Based Targets initiative.

We expect to see a major shift in business models and the marine industry as a whole by 2030. Up until this point, we believe the market potential will be linked to factors like acceleration of charging infrastructure, affordable battery technology and efficiency gains in propelling the vessel in the water. The weight of the batteries today also has an impact.

The tipping point we see for 2030 is when, in addition to the activity in the commercial marine segments, we anticipate a significant increase in hybrid and electric boating also for consumers – a change that we welcome.

Our investments are turning more towards sustainable solutions and that includes investing not only in electromobility drivelines but also across different fuels. So we’re really thinking about this transformation from a 360-degree perspective while looking at the investments to make boating more sustainable. It is not only the batteries or the electric engine, but also the full efficiency of the vessel and seamless interaction of all parts of our solutions – all combining to create a premium boating experience.

We’re innovating and learning in tandem, with the mindset that collaborators win. We have the added strengths and capabilities that come with being part of the Volvo Group – access to leading technology, competence and experience, which we are leveraging to develop sustainable solutions at sea. Our family of companies foster cooperation as we address the opportunities that come with new technologies – in line with the latest scientific evidence.

Our collaboration spanning the Volvo Group plus our strong global network of boat builders gives us a clear path forward – sharpening our focus as we lead the future of sustainable marine propulsion and redefine what’s possible for tomorrow’s premium boating experience.

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