Yara Discloses First Autonomous Electric Cargo Ship


Noveragian fertilizer giant Yara, on Friday 19th, unveiled their long-waited electric and autonomous cargo ship, Yara Birkeland, paving its way without any human intervention. Yara is getting ready to sail Norway’s southern shore and contribute to the country’s attempts to clean up its industries.

The ship was shown off to the media when it sailed its first journey carrying 120 containers of fertilizers from a facility in the southwestern town of Porsgrunn to the Brevik port, which is 8.7 miles (14 km) via road.

Starting from next year, the 80-meter self-operating ship will replace the lorry transport from the Yara’s plant in Porsgrunn to the Brevik port, which accounts for cutting the emission of 1,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, which again is equivalent to the emission from 40,000 diesel-fueled trucks in a year running between the distance.

Svein Tore Holsether, Yara’s CEO, in conversation with the media, poured his heart out saying that many setbacks have been faced to reach where we stand now and that it feels more rewarding. 

“Now we have taken this technological leap to show it is possible, and I’m thinking there are so many routes in the world where it is possible to implement the same type of ship,” Svein stated further.

During its two-year trial period, this massive autonomous cargo ship will be manoeuvred to fine-tune its capabilities and technology for sensors and integration required for distant and automated operations.

The ship is meant to do duties like cargo loading and unloading, battery charging, and navigation without the need for human intervention. Sensors will indeed make it possible to perceive and analyse items in the water, such as kayaks, so the ship can determine what action to take to prevent colliding with anything.

Jostein Braaten, project manager for the ship said, “We’ve taken away the human element, which today is also the cause of many of the accidents we see,”. The autonomous operation of the ship can help to ensure a safe voyage, he added.

The usual machine room onboard has been substituted by eight battery compartments, giving the vessel a capability of 6.8 MWh, equivalent to 100 Teslas, generated by renewable hydroelectricity.

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