Sweden’s largest electric-hybrid ferry running on Volvo Penta gensets

Malcolm Latarche

Malcolm Latarche · 07 October 2019


Volvo Penta gensets are powering the largest electric-hybrid ferry in Sweden. The Tellus operates the 1.8km-wide Gullmarsleden waterway between Uddevalla and Lysekil – one of Sweden’s busy maritime routes.

The ferry was commissioned by the Swedish Transport Administration and built by Baltic Workboats Shipyard – an Estonian company that has made over 200 workboats and which currently has 30 workboats on order. The 100m-long ferry took 16 months to build and can carry cars, trucks as well as 300 passengers.


The ferry has two electric-driven POD propulsion units, one at either end of the vessel – so that it doesn’t have to turn to go back and forth across the fjord. Energy to the propulsion units is taken either from the batteries or from four Volvo Penta D16 MH engines. These engines drive synchronous reluctance assisted permanent magnet (SRPM) technology generators. These units can be driven individually or all four in parallel to optimise fuel consumption and emissions. The gensets have been supplied by the Baltic state Volvo Penta Center BMG Power Systems.

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BMG Power Systems specialises in heavy-duty engines and has a longstanding relationship with Volvo Penta in the marine commercial, leisure, and industrial segments. It also has a unique partnership with Baltic Workboats Shipyard, which spans over 10 years making it the perfect bridge for a project like this.

Tõnu Kirs, Managing Partner at BMG Power Systems explained, “Volvo Penta’s engines were the perfect match for this project. Not only are they powerful and reliable but the servicing network is outstanding, especially in Sweden.” He went on to comment, “When it comes to public transport you cannot risk long periods of downtime. The customer wants to be reassured– in the unlikely case – that something goes wrong that it can be sorted quickly and efficiently and with Volvo Penta, that’s guaranteed.”

While there are four Volvo Penta D16 engines onboard for the majority of the time the ferry usually only needs one engine to power its trips. The other engines are precautionary, needed only during tough weather and sea-ice conditions.

Sander Pielberg, Project Manager at Baltic Workboats said, “We have a relationship with Volvo Penta that spans over 10 years and know and trust their products. Our strong ties with local partners – BMG Power Systems– also meant that we had the support we needed throughout the project. We have the tools, training, and expertise to install these gensets easily and the power output is extraordinary.”

The move towards electromobility is vital and Sweden was among the first nations to pledge to reduce its emissions and become fossil-free by 2045. These commitments have resulted in increased demand in the market for more powerful gensets to power auxiliary systems, hybrid vessels, and diesel-electric vessels. To meet these demands – for more power – Volvo Penta has upgraded its D16 range to meet 450 and 500kWe.

The Swedish Transport Administration’s goal is to go fully electric. However, current infrastructure cannot support full-electromobility and electric vessels cannot travel long distances, therefore, there has also been a trend of using these gensets as alternative propulsion systems to power diesel-electric hybrid vessels – until the charging infrastructure is in place. This is the case for the Tellus ferry. For the moment, Tellus’ 12 Corvus battery-racks – with a total capacity of 949 kWh – are being charged at night via an onshore charging station and can also be charged by the Volvo Penta D16 engines while in operation. The ferry can currently complete three trips in full electric mode before the D16 gensets are needed to take over.

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