The world’s first autonomous and electric container ship is one step closer to reality with a shipbuilding contract now in signed and sealed for the vessel.
Norwegian technology firm Kongsberg, who is partnering with Yara on the project, announced today that Yara has signed a deal worth NOK 250 million ($25.9 million) with VARD to build the vessel with launch scheduled for early 2020.
The vessel will initially start out with manned operation but quickly move to fully autonomous operation by 2022.
In May 2017, YARA and Kongsberg announced a partnership to build the world’s first autonomous, electric containership.
The vessel, named Yara Birkeland, will replace 40,000 truckloads per year, reducing NOx and CO2 emissions in the process. With the shipyard, selected, construction is now set to begin.
“A vessel like Yara Birkeland has never been built before, and we rely on teaming up with partners with an entrepreneurial mindset and cutting edge expertise. VARD combines experience in customized ship building with leading innovation, and will deliver a game-changing vessel which will help us lower our emissions, and contribute to feeding the world while protecting the planet,” says Svein Tore Holsether, President and CEO of YARA.
VARD is a leading global shipbuilder of specialized vessels.
Yara Birkeland is scheduled to be delivered from Vard Brevik in Norway in Q1 2020. The hull will be delivered from Vard Braila in Romania.
Roy Reite, CEO and Executive Director of VARD, commented: “We are honored to be chosen as Yara’s partner in this innovative and exciting project. With a longstanding experience in building state-of-the-art and tailor-made specialized vessels, we are excited to be given the opportunity to build the world’s first autonomous and electric-driven container vessel. It is a pleasure to welcome Yara and Kongsberg to VARD, and we look forward to working closely with all parties involved.”
The project has received NOK 133.6 million in support from the Norwegian government enterprise ENOVA. Prime Minister Erna Solberg was present for the signing at the shipyard in Brevik, Norway.
“This is a good example of how Norwegian industry can collaborate to create new solutions and green jobs. YARA, KONGSBERG and VARD have built on their knowledge about technology, logistics and ship building with an ambition to create sustainable innovation together. The result is exciting pioneer projects like this one. I am proud that the Government has supported the development of Yara Birkeland through ENOVA and send my best wishes for the construction,” says Prime Minister Solberg.
Kongsberg is a key partner in the project, responsible for providing the technology including the sensors and integration that will enable remote and autonomous operation.
“Yara Birkeland represents an important next step for the entire maritime industry, representing a major technological and sustainable advancement. The Norwegian maritime cluster has taken a leading position within technology, design, legislation, testing and all other aspects of the development,” says Geir Håøy, CEO of KONGSBERG.
The project was initiated in an effort to improve the logistics at Yara’s Porsgrunn fertilizer plant. Each day, more than 100 diesel truck journeys are needed to transport products from Yara’s Porsgrunn plant to ports in Brevik and Larvik where the company ships products to customers around the world.
With this new autonomous battery-driven containership, YARA moves transport from road to sea, thereby reducing noise and dust, improving the safety of local roads, and reducing NOx and CO2 emissions.