Norwegian Fertiliser Giant Debuts World’s First Fully Electric Container Ship

Oslo, NorwayThe zero-emission “Yara Birkeland”, dubbed “the Tesla of the Seas”, will replace lorry haulage between plant and port and cut Norway’s carbon dioxide emissions by 1,000 tonnes per year.The world’s first fully electric container ship, built on behalf of the Norwegian fertiliser giant Yara to navigate the country’s southern coast and play its part in the country’s green switch, has made its maiden voyage in the Oslo Fjord.Back in Oslo harbour, it was greeted by Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Fisheries Minister Bjørnar Skjæran, the company said in a statement.Starting next year, the self-steering “Yara Birkeland”, an 80-metre-long and 15-metre-wide feeder (a type of container ship), will replace lorries shuttling between the plant in Porsgrunn in southern Norway, one of the country’s largest polluters, and its export port in Brevik some 14 kilometres away by road.The vessel is expected to slash carbon emissions by 1,000 tonnes per year, which is on par with 40,000 diesel-powered journeys by road, and go fully autonomous in two years. During the initial phase, though, the commercial transport operations will be manually-controlled. Subsequently, the ship will load and offload its cargo, recharge its batteries and navigate without human involvement whatsoever, as even the bridge will be removed.Norwegian shipbuilder Vard was commissioned to build the vessel. The ship, dubbed “the Tesla of the Seas”, is powered by batteries provided by Swiss Leclanche packing 7 megawatt hours over eight battery rooms, the equivalent of 100 Tesla cars.The electronic equipment including cameras and sensors was provided by the company Kongsberg, which builds guidance. systems for civilian and military uses.

The ship, expected to do two voyages per week to begin with, has capacity to ship 120 containers of fertiliser at a time.The project was part-financed by Enova, a government enterprise responsible for promoting renewable energy, which had allocated up to NOK 133.5 million (nearly $15 million).

Yara International is a Norwegian chemical company specialising in the production of nitrogen fertiliser, as well as nitrates, ammonia, urea and other nitrogen-based chemicals. Established in 1905 as Norsk Hydro as the world’s first producer of mineral nitrogen fertilisers, Yara is still going strong and has a strong market presence with operations in over 50 countries and sales to about 150 countries. The Norwegian government is its largest shareholder with more than a third of its stock.Oslo Port, where the “Yara Birkenland” maiden voyage took place, aims to cut 85 percent of emissions of carbon dioxide, sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter by 2030, with the goal of ultimately becoming the world’s first zero-emissions port.

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