Its name is Yara Birkeland, and before being “born” – because it is still a project on paper – it has already become a news item. And with good reason, because it is quite the revolution in the ocean freight transport sector. The reasons are two-fold: it generates its own propulsion power, which will be entirely electric, and its goal is to be autonomous.
The most eye-catching feature of a container ship that all the experts say would be a true technological innovation. Behind the project are two noteworthy private Norwegian companies, the chemical company Yara – specialised in fertiliser production – and the technological company Kongsberg, that develops sea technology solutions.
The Yara Birkeland – which takes its name from the founder of Norwegian chemistry, the physicist and inventor Kristian Birkeland- will be built in Norway, ready to begin operations in 2018, specifically during the second half of the year. Since the very beginning, it was designed to bring the maritime sector closer to meeting the sustainable development objectives set by the United Nations (UN).
How? Since it is totally electric, and therefore puts out zero emissions. Thus, it would replace more than one hundred diesel trucks that transport the products from the Norwegian chemical company by roadway from its plant in Porsgrunn to the ports of Brevik and Larvik, 15 and 35 kilometres away, respectively.
It is calculated that 40,000 heavy vehicle roadway trips per year will no longer be made, which will lead to a reduction in CO2 and NOx emissions, a reduction in noise pollution and increased safety on the roadways where the transport trucks drive. As highlighted by Geir Håøy, president and CEO of Kongberg, “by moving container transport from land to sea, Yara Birkeland marks the beginning of a huge contribution toward meeting national and international environmental impact objectives. This new concept is also taking a huge step to increase sea transport in general.”
On the other hand, Svein Tore Holsether (president and CEO of Yara), explained that “every day, over 100 diesel truck trips are necessary to transport products from the Yara Porsgrunn plant to the Brevik and Larvik ports where we ship products to clients around the world. Now, with this new battery-powered autonomous container ship, we can move transport from the road to the sea.”
And this change will affect the equipment that the ports need, since, for example, it is an entirely electric ship that does not require traditional refuelling. To this end, industry companies need to be prepared. This is Prosertek’s case, an innovative company that offers a wide range of port equipment and turnkey solutions to meet its clients’ needs.