Thursday 20th Sep, 2018

SPECIAL REPORT: Containerisation


THE future of containerisation may be seen in Norway next year when the fully electric and fully autonomous YARA Birkeland starts operations.

Not only will the vessel’s propulsion be electric and automated, but the cranes that will unload YARA Birkeland will likewise be electric and automated.

The battery-powered open-top container vessel will have a capacity to carry 100-150 TEU, and it will be the world’s first fully electric and autonomous containership.

The ship will not be fully autonomous on its maiden voyage; it will initially operate as a manned vessel, moving to remote operation in 2019, and it is slated to begin performing fully autonomous operations in 2020.

It will move products from fertiliser producer Yara’s production plant in Porsgrunn to Brevik and Larvik – a journey of about 37 nautical miles in total.

Maritime technology company Kongsberg is supplying all key enabling technologies on the vessel, inclinding the sensors and integration required for remote and autonomous operations, as well as the electric drive, battery and propulsion control systems.

Kongsberg president and CEO Geir Håøy said that by moving container transport from land to sea, YARA Birkeland was the start of a major contribution to fulfilling national and international environmental impact goals.

“The new concept is also a giant step forward towards increased seaborne transportation in general,” he said.

YARA Birkeland will set the benchmark for the application of innovative maritime technology for more efficient and environmentally friendly shipping.”
Yara CEO Svein Tore Holsether said investing in this zero emission vessel to transport the company’s products fits its strategy well.

“Every day, more than 100 diesel truck journeys are needed to transport products from Yara’s Porsgrunn plant to ports in Brevik and Larvik where we ship products to customers around the world,” he said.

“With this new autonomous battery-driven container vessel we move transport from road to sea and thereby reduce noise and dust emissions, improve the safety of local roads, and reduce NOx and CO2 emissions.”

Mr Holsether said Yara was proud to work with Kongsberg to realise the world’s first autonomous, all-electric vessel to enter commercial operation.

The vessel will have a maximum speed of 10 knots, and a service speed of six knots, with a full draught of 5m and it will use an automatic mooring system.

Its length overall will be 70m, and its deadweight tonnage will be 3500-4500 tonnes.

YARA Birkeland will be equipped with two azimuth pods and two tunnel thrusters, powered by a 3.5-4 MWh battery pack.

The ship’s safety will be looked after by three control centres, which will handle emergency and exception handling, condition monitoring, operational monitoring, decision support, and surveillance of the ship and its surrounds.

From the print edition August 10, 2017

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