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Yara announces plans for first fully electric and autonomous cargo ship

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World Fertilizer,

Global fertilizer company Yara has announced that it is building a battery-powered ship that will be able to drive itself by 2020 – the world’s first fully electric and autonomous container ship, with zero emissions.

The new ship, named “Yara Birkeland” after Yara’s founder, the famous scientist and innovator Kristian Birkeland, the vessel will be the world’s first fully electric container feeder. Yara’s new vessel will reduce NOX and CO2 emissions and improve road safety by removing up to 40 000 truck journeys in populated urban areas.

Operation is planned to start in the latter half of 2018, shipping products from Yara’s Porsgrunn production plant to Brevik and Larvik in Norway.

Birkeland will initially operate as a manned vessel, moving to remote Yara operation in 2019 and expected to be capable of performing fully autonomous operations from 2020. The new zero-emission vessel will be a game-changer for global maritime transport contributing to meet the UN sustainability goals.

“As a leading global fertilizer company with a mission to feed the world and protect the planet, investing in this zero emission vessel to transport our crop nutrition solutions fits our strategy well. We are proud to work with KONGSBERG to realize the world’s first autonomous, all-electric vessel to enter commercial operation,” said Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of Yara.

“Every day, more than 100 diesel truck journeys are needed to transport products from Yara’s Porsgrunn plant to ports in Brevik and Larvik where we ship products to customers around the world. 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  NOX and CO2 emissions,” added Holsether.



A giant step forward for seaborne transportation


KONGSBERG is responsible for development and delivery of all key enabling technologies on Yara Birkeland including the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous operations, in addition to the electric drive, battery and propulsion control systems.

“By moving container transport from land to sea, Yara Birkeland is the start of a major contribution to fulfilling national and international environmental impact goals. The new concept is also a giant step forward towards increased seaborne transportation in general,” said Geir Håøy, President and CEO of KONGSBERG.

As a leading global maritime technology company, KONGSBERG’s integrated control and monitoring systems are already capable of providing technology for remote and unmanned operations. Yara Birkeland will benefit from competence and technologies developed across KONGSBERG.

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