Replacing diesel engines with a zero-emission Volvo Penta solution is to create the world’s first retrofitted electric crew transfer vessel (E-CTV). Volvo Penta will supply its Inboard Performance System (IPS). New charging infrastructure will allow the vessel to charge onshore and offshore. 

For the project, Volvo Penta will supply a fully electric propulsion system in an existing vessel, replacing the older combustion engines with a 100 per cent emissions-free solution. Using an existing vessel delivers better circularity and sustainability and helped make the project one of ten leading-edge developments awarded UK government funding as part of an industry-led transition to net-zero.

‘We are delighted to be involved with such a landmark project, which will feature our first ever Volvo Penta IPS powered 100 per cent by batteries and with no on-board diesel generators,’ says Mehmet Belibagli, sales manager, Marine Commercial at Volvo Penta UK. ‘It’s an ultra-efficient set-up that will deliver longer-range and emissions-free transfers. There’s also closer control and manoeuvrability so journeys are safer, faster and more reliable. We believe this is the future for a number of segments within the marine industry and hope it will inspire further projects.’

The vessel is being developed for sea transport and crew transit service operator Tidal Transit. Cost of the retrofit is estimated at GBP 8 million (EUR 9.4 million) with GBP 6.3 million (€7.4 million) coming from the Zero Emissions Vessel and Infrastructure (ZEVI) programme. The programme is part of the UK Government’s plan (via its Department of Transport and Innovate UK innovation agency) to develop, deploy and operate clean maritime solutions.

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2 MW of battery capacity

Retrofitting will be done on Ginny Louise, a 20-metre, diesel-powered Mercurio vessel. The old propulsion system will be replaced with a Quad Installation of Volvo Penta IPS 30 paired with fully electric motors and over 2 MW of onboard battery capacity. The completed vessel will be re-named e-Ginny.

As well as being emissions-free will also benefit from a host of additional benefits that IPS delivers. This includes seamless movement and control, courtesy of the forward-facing, individually-steerable drives with twin counter-rotating propellers. This design not only delivers better manoeuvrability, but also a smoother ride.

For the captain and vessel operators, there will be changes to the helm station with the switch to Volvo Penta IPS. These will include Volvo Penta’s Joystick Control, for fingertip movements, Assisted Docking, for stress-free positioning, and the Glass Cockpit System for a smoother driving experience. It’s part of a helm-to-prop retrofit solution that delivers improved performance and driving experience.

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Charging on- and offshore

As part of the overall Tidal Transit project, new charging infrastructure will be installed, both through an onshore charging station and an offshore wind turbine-based charger. In combination with the Volvo Penta IPS platform, this will greatly increase the range of the vessel and the amount of time it can spend at work. Once complete, the E-CTV will support crew transfers at an offshore UK wind farm for a period of three years.

Leo Hambro, commercial director at Tidal Transit: ‘The transition to electric crew transfer vessels marks a major step towards achieving a more sustainable and environmentally responsible offshore wind industry. Electrification projects like the e-Ginny retrofit offer great benefits from a national to international scale – alongside a substantial reduction in carbon footprint, the absence of combustion engines also contributes significantly to lowering noise pollution, eliminates the risk of fuel spillages and translates into lower maintenance requirements. With the addition of onshore and offshore charging solutions, these vessels can stay on the water for longer, ultimately reducing operational costs for fleet operators.’

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