Norway is building the first autonomous electric freighter —

Attention: text has been trasnlated from german into english with google translate

Two Norwegian companies want to ease the burden on the environment and deliver their cargo in the future using an electric ship. The right boat is currently under development and is to operate completely independently from 2020 onwards.

Numerous companies are driving forward the research and construction of electric cars to reduce pollutant emissions. The air pollution of passenger cars is comparatively low in comparison to the emission values of container ships – the freighters produce approximately as many pollutants per year as 50 million cars per year . Nevertheless, there is little in this sector, and large-scale concepts for emission-free ships have not existed, at least so far.
The Norwegian chemical company Yara is currently developing, in cooperation with the shipbuilding company Kongsberg, the first 100% electric container ship. From 2018, this will be used to transport Yaras export goods to the nearest ports. To date, around 20,000 containers have been relocated this year with trucks. This does not only cost a lot of gasoline, it also pollutes the environment. Therefore, the company has decided to build the Yara Birkeland. The ship was named after company founder Kristian Birkeland .

“Every day, we need more than 100 diesel-powered trucks to move our products from our production facility to the ports of Brevik and Larvik, from where the goods are transported all over the world,” says Yara CEO Svein Holsether. “With the battery operated container ship we can move the transport from the road to the water. This reduces dust and noise, increases safety on the roads and reduces the negative impact on the environment. ”

Yaras production site in the Norwegian port and industrial city of Porsgrunn is located 14 kilometers from Breivik and 26 kilometers from Larvik . In the first years, the Birkeland is to cover these routes with crew on board, 2019 Yaras wants to switch to remote control and by 2020 the ship is to drive completely autonomously. Kongsberg has set itself high goals in the development of the required systems: “The development of autonomous systems is a decisive and natural step for Kongsberg, ” said CEO Geir Håøy. “The Yara Birkeland will set standards in the application of maritime technologies to increase efficiency and environmental compatibility in shipping.”


From 2020 the Birkeland will deliver Yaras cargo without crew


As a matter of fact, Kongsberg and Yara could make an important contribution to reducing the environmental impact of container ships and pushing further developments in this direction with their electric boats. Environmentalists have long been concerned with pollution caused by shipping. With smaller initiatives, they are trying to counter the destruction of the environment. For example, the Ocean Foundation’s SeaGrass Grow organization is helping to reduce the environmental footprint of shipping operators. To this end, they send the pollutant emissions of their machines and the organization plants in turn new seagrass fields.


A study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from the year 2009 showed that a reduction in the emission of pollutants in shipping is urgently needed . After that, 15 large container ships produce the same high emission values as all cars used in the world. US scientists found that the 90,000 cargo ships currently in operation are responsible for 60,000 deaths a year, and the treatment of pollutant emissions annually costs about 330 billion dollars.


Author: Benedikt Plass-Flessenkämper (
Published: May 17,  2017
Original Source:

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