Volvo Penta’s Marine Gensets turn 20 years old

As 2018 draws to a close it marks the 20th anniversary of Volvo Penta’s marine gensets. We look back at this amazing journey and see where some of these gensets have ended up.


For the past 20 years, Volvo Penta has been producing marine gensets. Currently, these gensets range from 62 to 477 kWe but no matter the size they are delivered complete. Volvo Penta takes pride in creating reliable gensets that are compact, easy to service and install, fuel efficient and have low emission levels. The durability of the gensets is highlighted in their running times. If you took all the Volvo Penta marine gensets and added their running times together they would actually be almost 20,000 years old, but that was too many candles for us. Here are some key milestones to celebrate.

Keeping Greenland warm
The government-owned Greenland energy company Nukissiorfiit – who supply most of Greenland’s electricity, water and heat – have bought 50 Volvo engines that have been repurposed into gensets. These gensets are dotted across the country and provide village residence with electricity to light and heat their homes. Marine gensets are the industrial standard in Greenland and Volvo Penta gensets are known for their reliability and durability. The last thing you want is no heating in the bitter winter. In these remote areas, generators can sometimes be the only power option – with Volvo Penta’s gensets considerably low emission levels they are regarded as the right environmental choice for this sustainability conscious nation – that generates 70 percent of its electricity from emission-free hydropower.

Saving Faroe island Ferry fuel
Traveling around the Faroe Islands isn’t a straightforward journey. This North Atlantic archipelago is connected by a series of road tunnels, causeways, bridges and especially ferries. When the Faroe Islands’ public transport authority needed to repower one of its diesel-electric ferries, it turned to Volvo Penta to supply new gensets. In 2012, after a thorough review process, the operator chose to install five Volvo Penta D16 MG units, running at 1,500 rpm for the Teistin ferry. The 45m ferry operates up to 18 times a day on the 30-minute route between Skopun and Gamlaraett. Working year round through the challenging winter months, it can carry up to 270 passengers, 32 cars and cargo such as fish; around 210,000 commuters and tourists annually. Since the repowering, the gensets have been in operation for around 20,000 hours each without failure and have cut fuel usage by 22 percent. This was the start of a long-standing relationship. Since the repowering of the Teistin, Volvo Penta has supplied more engines to Strandfaraskip Landsins for its other ferries and is collaborating on a new-build project.

The Polarfront.

One of the oldest gensets
Taking inexperienced crew on board any vessel requires specific risk assessments but taking twelve tourists on a 10-day voyage around the Arctic requires the highest level of preparation – the Polarfront, a former meteorological polar ship, does just this. Once the last remaining weather ship located in the North Atlantic. She has been fully refurbished into a comfortable polar yacht, for holidaymakers to explore Svalbard’s incredible wildlife. Her new claim to fame is that she has a genset that is 107,000 hours old – if this genset had been running non-stop it would be more than 12 years old which is a credit to the durability and reliability of Volvo Penta’s gensets.

The TMD100.

The Future is Hybrid
Historically, marine gensets have been used as emergency gensets and auxiliary engines – for electricity on board, a backup, a failsafe. However, they have increasingly been utilized with diesel electric propulsion. This move allows for smarter designed and located compact engine rooms, smaller ecological footprints and most importantly represents one step closer in the journey towards hybrid and electric propulsion. Volvo Penta is working to spearhead this transition into electromobility – by putting gensets in direct contact with both diesel electric systems as well as serial hybrids. But there is a lot more to come, so here’s to the next 20 years.