Volvo Penta has acquired a majority stake in ZEM AS, a Norwegian supplier of batteries and complete electric propulsion solutions for ships and boats. In doing so, ZEM is to further expand its battery and propulsion business and successively develop and offer complete packages in collaboration with Volvo Penta.
Volvo Penta has said that ZEM will retain its name and continue to operate under the leadership of long-standing CEO Egil Mollestad. Volvo Penta is the marine division of commercial vehicle group Volvo Group, which is currently investing in the electrification of buses, trucks and construction equipment.
Although, of course, Volvo Group’s marine division can also access the know-how with batteries and drives that includes the fuel cell laboratory based at Volvo Construction Equipment, “Marine electromobility, however, has a unique set of requirements” Peter Granqvist, chief technology officer, Volvo Penta explains. “There are very specific considerations that are of the utmost importance around the installation environment, safety, as well as the use case itself plus the current lack of charging infrastructure.”
ZEM was founded in 2009 as a consultant to the maritime and offshore sectors to develop battery and hybrid solutions. Today, the company has delivered battery solutions for many different applications, from ferries, offshore supply vessels and high-speed passenger ships to lifeboats and the booming aquaculture sector, according to Volvo Penta.
“Joining forces with Volvo Penta marks the start of an exciting new phase for ZEM,” says Jan-Olaf Willums, founder of ZEM. “Our two companies are aligned on such core values as safety and environmental protection and we both have that Scandinavian pioneering spirit! Volvo Penta’s name and market reach will help propel us into new electromobility markets supporting our growth.”
Zero-emission marine applications have enjoyed increased focus over the past few months since, in September last year, the European Parliament voted for the inclusion of CO2 emissions from maritime shipping in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to decarbonise naval transport. The EU Parliament is currently in negotiations with the EU states on concrete legislation.