World’s First Green Autonomous Vessel

The Norwegian fertilizer firm Yara International has launched a fully-electric and autonomous vessel. Namely, Yara Birkeland has completed its maiden voyage in the Oslo fjord.

Environmental impact

The 80m long feeder will replace the lorry haulage between Yara’s plant in Porsgrunn and its export port in Brevik. To clarify, this is about 14 km (8.7 miles) away by road, starting next year.
According to the company, it will replace 40,000 trips completed by diesel-driven trucks. Moreover, this project will reduce 1,000t of carbon emissions per year.

The emission-free ship will commence commercial operations from next year.

“We have been looking forward to this day for a long time. Yara Birkeland will transport mineral fertiliser between Porsgrunn and Brevik and will contribute to significant emission cuts during transport.This 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.”

Svein Tore Holsether, Yara CEO
Certification & Development

Above all, the vessel will receive the hoped-for certification of an autonomous, all-electric container ship. However, a two-year testing period must commence in order to acquire the certification.

Nevertheless, the Kongsberg Group, within the partnership scheme, was responsible for the development and supply of the new ship’s technology. Additionally, Vard constructed Yara Birkeland with $14.97 million (Nkr133.5 million) of financial aid from Enova. Meanwhile, Enova has recently funded the world’s first hydrogen-powered fishing vessel.

The company has been also contributing to the development of green ammonia through the newly established Yara Clean Ammonia unit.

Nerd thoughts

Will this autonomous vessel mark the beginning of a new generation of ships? Or it is not going to live up to the hype that has built around it.

Only time will tell.

Photo: Yara