The first electric and autonomous container ship will sail at the end of the year

If cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles or even scooters can run on electricity, why not… container ships? The Yara Birkeland is the first container transport vessel to operate entirely on electricity and independently.

This is a first that could make children. Yara Norge AS, a Norwegian company specializing in fertilizers, received last November the Yara Birkeland, a container ship of a new kind: autonomous, it sails not on polluting fuels, but only on electricity.

Batteries with a capacity of 7 MWh

The ship, 80 meters long and 15 m wide, can carry up to 120 containers. Its motor is powered by batteries with a total capacity of 7 MWh, the equivalent of 100 Model 3. The technical sheet does not say the time required to recharge them all! Its cruising speed is 6 to 7 knots, for a top speed of 13 knots.

Yara Norge wants to use her brand new container ship to transport fertilizer from one factory to another. Ultimately, the ship must cover 40 to 60% of the company’s needs, without therefore polluting and with a very small human presence on board since the boat is piloted by itself thanks to its sensors and radars. Better yet, Yara Norge has also thought about the automation of container loading and unloading operations.

Originally, the group wanted to start operating the Yara Birkeland at the end of 2018, but in this kind of project, delays are always to be feared. The order was placed in 2017 with the shipyards of Vard Brattvag, in Romania. The Swiss company Leclanché supplied the batteries, while the technology was developed by Kongsberg Maritime.

After taking delivery of the vessel at the end of last year, Yara Norge is preparing its operation, which should begin at the end of the year.

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