Yara launches world's first fully emission-free container ship

Norwegian shipping company Yara on Friday announced the maiden voyage of the world's first electric and self-propelled container ship – Yara Birkeland – which departed for its maiden voyage.

On Friday morning, he welcomed Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store and minister of fisheries and ocean policy Bjornar Skjaeran on Yara Birkeland, after the ship had completed its maiden voyage to Oslo, Norway.
The prime minister was given a tour of the vessel by CEO of Yara, Svein Tore Holsether in the Oslo fjord.
“We are proud to be able to showcase the world's first fully electric and self-propelled container ship. It will cut 1,000 tonnes of CO2 and replace 40,000 trips by diesel-powered trucks a year, says Svein Tore Holsether, CEO of Yara.
Yara Birkeland, which has already received wide coverage in Norwegian and international media, has been developed in collaboration with the Kongsberg Group. The ship was built by VARD with financial support from Enova, and will be in commercial operation from 2022.
“We have been looking forward to this day for a long time. Yara Birkeland will transport mineral fertiliser between Porsgrunn and Brevik and will contribute to significant emission cuts during transport. This is an excellent example of green transition in practice, and we hope this ship will be the start of a new type of emission-free container ships. There are a lot of places in the world with congested roads that will benefit from a high-tech solution like this,” said Holsether.
The ship will now undergo a two-year testing period of the technology that will make the ship self-propelled, and finally certified as an autonomous, all-electric container ship.
Yara Birkeland is a collaborative project between several actors, where Kongsberg is responsible for the development and delivery of all newly developed technology on the ship. The ship will be operated from Massterlys’ monitoring and operations centre in Horten. Massterly is a joint venture between Kongsberg and Wilhelmsen.
“Norway is a big ocean and maritime nation, and other nations look to Norway for green solutions at sea. Yara Birkeland is the result of the strong knowledge and experience we have in the Norwegian maritime cluster and industry. The project demonstrates how we have developed a world-leading innovation that contributes to the green transition and provides great export opportunities for Norwegian technology and industry,” said Geir Håøy, CEO of the Kongsberg Group.
Enova, a government enterprise responsible for promotion of renewable energy, has allocated up to NOK 133.5 million to build the world's first electric and autonomous container ship.
“On the way to a low-emission society, transport emissions must come down to almost zero. To achieve that, we need projects that can transform the market - projects that have the potential to pave the way for others and increase the pace of change in their sector. This is exactly what we believe the world's first autonomous and all-electric container ship will do,” said Nils Kristian Nakstad, CEO of Enova.
In parallel with the construction of Yara Birkeland, Yara has initiated the development of green ammonia as an emission-free fuel for shipping, through the newly started Yara Clean Ammonia.
“Renewable energy was our starting point in 1905. Now, ammonia can bring us back to our roots. Our large shipping network and existing infrastructure means that ammonia has the potential to become the leading fuel for long-distance shipping globally,” said Magnus Krogh Ankarstrand, CEO of Yara Clean Ammonia.
As the world's largest producer of fertilizers, Yara relies on ammonia to make fertilizer, and to help feed an ever-growing population. At the same time, current ammonia production represents 2 per cent of the world's fossil energy consumption. This corresponds to about 1.2 per cent of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions.
"As the world's largest producer of ammonia, Yara has launched an offensive plan of international scale, both to remove current emissions and to establish the production of new, clean ammonia," says Ankarstrand.
Yara pursues a strategy of sustainable value growth, promoting climate-friendly crop nutrition and zero-emission energy solutions. Yara is focused on growing a climate positive food future that creates value for customers, shareholders and society at large and delivers a more sustainable food value chain.
It has taken the lead in developing digital farming tools for precision farming, and is working closely with partners throughout the food value chain to improve the efficiency and sustainability of food production. 
Through its focus on clean ammonia production, Yara is aiming to enable the hydrogen economy, driving a green transition of shipping, fertiliser production and other energy intensive industries.
Founded in 1905 to solve the emerging famine in Europe, Yara has established a unique position as the industry’s only global crop nutrition company. The group operates an integrated business model with around 17,000 employees and operations in over 60 countries, with a proven track record of strong returns. In 2020, Yara reported revenues of $11.6 billion.