Kongsberg reports that testing of the forthcoming autonomous and all-electric container carrier, Yara Birkeland, has commenced in advance of her scheduled 2019 delivery. A 6m-long, 2.4tonne model of the ship, equipped with its own scaled-down thruster system, is currently being put through its paces at SINTEF Ocean’s 80m test tank facility in Trondheim, Norway.
The Yara Birkeland project has been spearheaded by Kongsberg and Norwegian agricultural company Yara International, in collaboration with classification society DNV GL, vessel designer Marin Teknikk, research facility SINTEF Ocean and Norwegian maritime authorities. The stated aim is to realise a vessel that can “set the benchmark for the application of innovative maritime technology for more efficient and environmentally friendly shipping,” according to Geir Håøy, Kongsberg president and chief executive.
Additionally, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy’s ENOVA initiative, which was created to back industry solutions dedicated to tackling greenhouse gas emissions, has announced that it will provide NOK 133 million (US$ 16.3 million) of funding to this project. At time of writing, the project partners had yet to select a shipyard to construct Yara Birkeland, though it is believed a builder will be named by the end of 2017.
The completed Yara Birkeland is planned to feature a length of 80m, a breadth of 14.8m, a depth of 12m and a draught of 6m. A combination of battery-powered motors, azimuth pods and tunnel thrusters will grant the vessel a predicted service speed of 6knots, increasing to 10knots max, and the vessel will feature a capacity of 120teu.
Yara International estimates that putting the vessel into service will reduce 40,000 road journeys per year between Yara’s Porsgrunn fertiliser plant in southern Norway and the ports of Brevik and Larvik, thereby slashing the amount of NOx and CO2 emissions that would have typically been generated through reliance on road haulage.