September 28, 2017

Enova to support the building of Yara Birkeland

The Norwegian government enterprise Enova has decided to grant NOK 133.6 million to Yara to build the world's first electric and autonomous container ship.
Yara Birkeland model
Yara Birkeland model

"For the private sector, it is essential to have the government’s support when we develop new technology and deliver bold innovations. It allows us to be daring and explore the unknown. The making of Yara Birkeland is an excellent example of a public-private partnership in practice,” says Svein Tore Holsether, Yara’s CEO.

Enova is a Norwegian government enterprise responsible for promoting environmentally friendly production and consumption of energy. Its stated purpose is to explore new sources of clean energy, reduce overall energy consumption and to provide educational materials to the public promoting energy-efficient practices. Established in 2001, it is financed through government funding. The company is owned by the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy and based in Trondheim.

In May, Yara announced a collaboration with the technology company Kongsberg to build the world's first autonomous and zero emission container ship. The vessel, which will be named after Yaras’s founder, Kristian Birkeland, will transport fertilizer from Yara's production plant in Porsgrunn to the container ports in Brevik and Larvik. By moving this transport from road to sea, Yara will remove 40,000 journeys with diesel-powered truck transport every year.

"The interest in autonomous transport is great, but at the same time many are skeptical and question the safety. The key contribution from this project is to demonstrate that autonomous and electric sea transport is feasible, and will deliver the results we want, "says Nils Kristian Nakstad, CEO of ENOVA.

The design of Yara Birkeland is presented today when a 6 meter and 2.4 tonne test model of Yara Birkeland is launched in the 80 meter long sea laboratory at SINTEF Ocean in Trondheim. The ship model is designed by Marin Teknikk AS, and will undergo thorough testing in the coming weeks.

Yara Birkeland is the world's first autonomous and electric container ship, and is a maritime revolution, with Norway in the front.

"In order to succeed with this project we have to collaborate with leading competence hubs and companies within maritime technology, like Kongsberg on autonomous technology, Marin Teknikk on ship design, SINTEF Ocean on testing of the model and DNV GL on certification. In addition, an important job is now being done by Norwegian maritime authorities to adapt legislation and regulations, "says Yara CEO, Svein Tore Holsether.

The plan is to launch Yara Birkeland in the first quarter of 2019.