Their ancient ancestors brought many modern sailing techniques to the North Sea, and now the Norwegians have successfully launched the world's first electric autonomous container ship.
Built by Yara to transport their mineral fertilizer stocks between the towns of Porsgrunn and Brevik, a trip which normally requires 40,000 trips by diesel truck per year, the Yara Birkeland will save around 1,000 tons of CO2 annually.
On November 19th, Yara Birkeland departed for a crewed maiden voyage—which included Norway's prime minister—on a short 43-mile trip across the fjord from Horton to Oslo.
"We have been looking forward to this day for a long time," stated Svein Tore Holsether, CEO of Yara. "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."
Onboard the 262-foot (80 meter) vessel is a 6.8 megawatt-hours battery pack that can generate 17 mph (28 kph). It can carry 3,200 tons of fertilizer, and should begin commercial operations next year while it carries out lengthy certification for its autonomous navigation technology.