Wärtsilä Tests Wireless Charging for Hybrid Coastal Ferry

Finnish technology group Wärtsilä has tested its automatic wireless induction charging system on a hybrid-powered coastal ferry.

“This is the first commercial ferry in the world operating with high power wireless charging capability for its batteries, and the successful project represents a notable breakthrough in the evolution of plug-in electrically operated vessels,” Wärtsilä said.

The tests were carried out on the 85-meter-long MF Folgefonn in Norwegian waters during the end of August/early September this year. The 1,182 gross ton ferry is owned by Norled, one of Norway’s largest ferry operators.

Wireless charging eliminates the cable connection between the vessel and shore, thereby securing and facilitating safe connections and disconnections. It also reduces maintenance since wear and tear to physical connection lines is eliminated, as explained by the company.

The Wärtsilä system is based on inductive power transfer and is capable of transferring more than an MW of electrical energy. The system is designed to maintain efficient power transfer at distances of 50 centimeters between the two charging plates built into the side of the vessel and the quay, according to Wärtsilä.

“During recent years, wireless charging has been introduced for cars, busses and trains. We have now made this possible for marine vessels. The main benefits … are up to 20 percent more utilisation of the available charging time, increased operational safety, and greater system reliability,” Ingve Sørfonn, Senior Technical Officer E&A, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions, commented.

“There is an ongoing trend to equip coastal ferries with battery powered and hybrid propulsion since they are particularly affected by environmental regulatory demands. Wireless charging will, therefore, create considerable value for operators of hybrid ferries,” Sørfonn added.

The project has been partly funded by Innovation Norway, a Norwegian funding institution.

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