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​Amazing and pioneering - but within reach

Technology is now being developed for wireless transfer of land power to ships. This is a potential game changer.

The above photo shows the first battery-powered ferry. Soon it may be possible to charge such a vessel wirelessly.

The research project "Wireless high power battery charging for ships" has already developed a small prototype, built at SINTEF Energy.

Many ports wants to offer shore power. The port of Oslo has already developed such a solution together with ferry operator Color Line. Several Norwegian ports are now working on finding similar solutions. The shipping lines are interested, because electricity is cheaper than other fuels in Norway.

What is the real challenge? Is a connector plug in the port not sufficient?

Unfortunately - not. Simple put, part of the problem is what kind of plug to use in the port. ISO, IEEE and IEC has worked to create a draft common standard for this contact point. Perhaps the wireless transmission of power may be the solution for the future ...?

The principle is the same as in modern induction units in kitchen stoves, only on a larger scale. The difference is that the effect will be received with a coil, while the induction stove allows the current to create heat directly in the bottom of the saucepan. The wireless, inductive transmission of energy for ferries will have an effect of 1 megawatt, ie in the order of 300 times the power of today's most common chargers for electrical vehicles. The wireless charging works with a magnetic field that runs between two coils, one that emits power and one that receives power.

The technology is being developed in a research project led by Ingve Sørfonn, who is Technical Director of Wärtsilä Norway, a company that among other things supplies energy solutions to the maritime sector. He says that battery operation and hybrid solutions have a large potential for all ships engaged in coastal traffic with variable operation speeds. He considers that ferries are perhaps the most logical place to start.

A prototype for wireless transfer of power in full size is under development. This will later be tested with full power in Wärtsilä's test center in Stord in Norway. Wärtsilä already produces solutions for power conversion to ship, and has developed an electronic power modules that will be used as part of prototype.

- The prototype will be ready within a year, and will be implemented as a pilot sometime in 2016, says Ingve Sørfonn.

This is a truly impressive research project that in the future will make freight by sea more eco-friendly, also when the ship is docked in port. Engines running is port is a major source of local pollution. An example: In the city of Bergen, which is sandwiched between high mountains, ship are a major contributor to the local low-quality air. A wireless charging point of the proposed type can be used as normal shore power with the engines of the ships turned off. The major potential is, however, in fast charging of batteries on board vessels with short stops in ports, such as ferries.

  
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