The technology group Wärtsilä has successfully 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. The tests were carried out on the 85 metre long ‘MF Folgefonn’ in Norwegian waters during the end of August / early September of this year. The 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. The integrated Wärtsilä system is based on inductive power transfer and is capable of transferring more than a MW of electrical energy.
The Wärtsilä system is designed to maintain efficient power transfer at distances of 50 centimetres between the two charging plates built into the side of the vessel and the quay. No other wireless charging system is as powerful, or capable of maintaining the transfer of energy at such a distance.
“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 for customers are up to 20 percent more utilisation of the available charging time, increased operational safety, and greater system reliability. 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,” says Ingve Sørfonn, Senior Technical Officer E&A, Wärtsilä Marine Solutions.
“For Wärtsilä, this wireless charging revolution focuses on coastal ferries, a segment of the transportation industry that is well-suited to the technology because of short stop-and-go schedules. The wireless charger is an innovative and value adding new part of our hybrid solutions offering, which we shall continue to develop further in line with the needs of our customers,” says Cato Esperø, Sales Director, Wärtsilä Norway.
The project has been partly funded by Innovation Norway, a Norwegian funding institution.