Yara announced the partnership with Kongsberg to build the world’s first electric containership in May. The design was developed by Marin Teknikk and has now been revealed. Upon completion, Yara Birkeland, which is named after Yara’s founder, Kristian Birkeland, will transport fertilizer from the company’s production plant Porsgrunn to the container ports in Brevik and Larvik. By moving this transportation operation from road to sea, Yara claims that it will remove 40 000 journeys with diesel-powered truck transport per year. The vessel is scheduled to be launched in 1Q19.
Svein Tore Holsether, the President and CEO of Yara, said: “With this new autonomous battery-driven container vessel we move transport from road to sea and thereby reduce noise and dust emissions, improve the safety of local roads, and reduce emissions.
"It was a special moment in Trondheim when, together with our partners – Kongsberg, Marin Teknikk , SINTEF and ENOVA – we witness the design and demonstration of a miniature Yara Birkeland for the first time."
The model weighs 2.4 t, and includes technology that will be used on the real vessel, including a fully working thruster system designed by Kongsberg. The model will now undergo thorough testing at SINTEF’s test tanks before construction of the real vessel begins. The shipyard will reportedly be selected before the end of this year.
Geir Håøy, the President and CEO of Kongsberg, said: “Initial tests of the model were successful, proving both concept and the technology.
"The testing at SINTEF Ocean marks an important milestone in the development. This vessel is important for the entire maritime industry, and Yara deserves praise for their initiative and commitment. Yara Birkeland is the start of a major contribution to fulfilling national and international environmental impact goals, and will be a global milestone for seaborne transportation."
The development of the vessel has been supported by the Norwegian government, with ENOVA (the Norwegian government enterprise) granting NOK133.6 million to Yara towards the vessel’s construction. Yara claims that this will cover approximately one-third of the estimated cost.
Holsether added: “For the private sector, it is essential to have the government's support when we develop new technology and deliver bold innovations. It allows us to be daring.”
The CEO of ENOVA, Nils Kristian Nakstad, said: “The interest in autonomous transport is great, but at the same time, many are sceptical and question the safety. The key contribution from this project is to demonstrate that autonomous and electric sea transport is feasible, and will deliver the results we want.”