Maiden Voyage for World’s First Electric & Autonomous Container Ship - Yara Birkeland

Yara Birkeland, the world’s first electric and self-propelled container ship has set off for its maiden voyage in the Oslo fjord in Norway.

Svein Tore Holsether, CEO of Yara, said: “We are proud to be able to showcase the world’s first fully electric and self-propelled container ship. It will cut 1,000 tonnes of CO2 and replace 40,000 trips by diesel-powered trucks a year.”

Yara Birkeland has been developed in collaboration with the Kongsberg Group. The ship was built by VARD with financial support from Enova, Norway’s fund for climate and energy technologies, and will begin commercial operation in 2022. Enova has allocated up to NOK 133.5 million (around $15 million) to build the world’s first electric and autonomous container ship.

“We have been looking forward to this day for a long time. Yara Birkeland will transport mineral fertilizer between Porsgrunn and Brevik and will contribute to significant emission cuts during transport. This is an excellent example of green transition in practice, and we hope this ship will be the start of a new type of emission-free container ships. There are a lot of places in the world with congested roads that will benefit from a high-tech solution like this,” says Holsether.

Now starts two-year testing period of the technology that will make the ship self-propelled, and finally certified as an autonomous, all-electric container ship.

As part of the Yara Birkeland project, Kongsberg is responsible for the development and delivery of all newly developed technology on the ship.

The ship will be operated from Maasterlys’ monitoring and operations center in Horten. Massterly is a joint venture between Kongsberg and Wilhelmsen.

Geir Håøy, CEO of the Kongsberg Group said: “Norway is a big ocean and maritime nation, and other nations look to Norway for green solutions at sea. Yara Birkeland is the result of the strong knowledge and experience we have in the Norwegian maritime cluster and industry. The project demonstrates how we have developed a world-leading innovation that contributes to the green transition and provides great export opportunities for Norwegian technology and industry, says.

In parallel with the construction of Yara Birkeland, Yara has initiated the development of green ammonia as an emission-free fuel for shipping, through the newly started Yara Clean Ammonia.

As the world’s largest producer of fertilizers, Yara relies on ammonia to make fertilizer and to help feed an ever-growing population. At the same time, current ammonia production represents 2 percent of the world’s fossil energy consumption. This corresponds to about 1.2 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, Yara said.

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