Yara, the world's first completely electric and self-steering container ship, is prepared to sail Norway's southern shore and contribute to the country's efforts to clean up its economy. Starting next year, the Yara Birkeland, an 80-meter-long (87-yard) feeder, will replace lorry transportation between Yara's factory in Porsgrunn in southern Norway and its export port in Brevik, which is roughly 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) away by road. It will save 1,000 tonnes of CO2 every year, the equivalent of 40,000 diesel-powered road trips, and will be fully autonomous in two years.
For Yara, this involves lowering CO2 emissions at its Porsgrunn facility, which is one of Norway's single greatest CO2 emitters, according to Chief Executive Svein Tore Holsether. "Now that we've taken this technological leap to prove it's viable," he told Reuters, "I'm thinking there are so many routes throughout the world where the same sort of ship could be implemented." Kongsberg contributed crucial technologies, including as sensors and integration, enabling remote and autonomous operations, which were built by Vard Norway.
"This isn't about replacing sailors; it's about replacing truck drivers," Yara's project manager for the ship, Jostein Braaten, said at the ship's bridge, which will be removed once the vessel is fully automated. The ship will load and unload cargo, charge its batteries, and sail without the need for human intervention. Sensors will be able to detect and analyze anything in the water rapidly, such as kayaks, so the ship can determine what action to take to avoid colliding with anything, according to Braaten.
He said that the technology should be an improvement over a manual approach. "We've removed the human factor," Braaten added, "which is now also the source of many of the incidents we witness." The ship, which will initially make two weekly trips, has the ability to transport 120 20-foot containers of fertilizer at a time. It is powered by Swiss Leclanche batteries, which have a total capacity of 7 megawatt hours spread across eight battery rooms, or the equivalent of 100 Tesla automobiles, according to Braaten.