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Administration Herøya Industripark AS

Phone: +47 35 92 65 00  


Hydrovegen 55, 3936 Porsgrunn, Norway

Yara and the Kongsberg Group cooperate on the construction of the world's first autonomous and emissions-free container ship.

The autonomous and 100% electric "YARA Birkeland" will be the world's most advanced container ship.

Yara hopes to dispense with 40,000 trips a year in diesel-powered lorries by switching goods transport from the roads to the sea. The Kongsberg Group is to deliver the technology, and regards sea transport as a main focus area, with autonomous control as a vital core technology.

09.05.2017, written by Åse Himle

The autonomous and 100% electric "YARA Birkeland" will be the world's most advanced container ship.

The vessel "Yara Birkeland" will be the world's first electric, self-steering container ship with zero emissions. Start of operations is planned for the second half of 2018. The ship will transport products between Yara's Porsgrunn production plant and Brevik and Larvik in Norway.

Proud about cooperation

"Yara's goal is to help secure sufficient food in the world, while protecting and managing the environment and climate. To do so, we have to dare to be first off with innovative new solutions, like this emissions-free container ship for transporting fertiliser. We are proud to have entered into cooperation with the Kongsberg Group for realising the world's first autonomous fully-electric vessel for commercial operations," says Yara Group President, Svein Tore Holsether.

Yara Birkeland is named after Yara's founder, the well-known scientist and innovator Kristian Birkeland, and will be the world's first electric container ship. Yara's new vessel will reduce NOx and CO2 emissions and simultaneously improve road safety by eliminating up to 40,000 lorry journeys per year from urban and populated areas.

From road to ship

"With the shift of transport from road to sea, Yara Birkeland is the forerunner in a significant move towards fulfilling national and international sustainability targets. The new concept is also a big step towards a general increase in maritime transport," says Geir Håøy, Kongsberg Group President. 

During the start-up phase, the ship will be manned, but the ship will transition to remote operation in 2019. Fully autonomous operations are expected from 2020. The new zero-emissions vessel is a true pioneer and will change the nature of international maritime transport. The ship embodies a commercialisation of technology which will make an important contribution to meeting the UN's world sustainability targets.

Secured position

This battery-driven container vessel shifts transport from road to sea and thereby reduces noise, local air pollution and climatic impacts.

"Up to 100 diesel-powered lorry tips are required every day for transporting products from the Yara factory at Porsgrunn to Brevik and Larvik, from where we send the products in large container ships to customers throughout the world. With this battery-driven container vessel, we shift transport from road to sea and thereby reduce noise, local air pollution and climatic impacts. At the same time we improve local road safety," Holsether says.

With this ship, Norway secures its position as a leading seafaring nation for the next generation, in which autonomous control and electrification will be all-important.

The Kongsberg Group is responsible for developing and delivering all the key technology on board the Yara Birkeland, including control systems, sensors and necessary integration for remote-controlled and autonomous operation, in addition to electric propulsion, batteries and control systems.  As a leading technology company, the Kongsberg Group already supplies integrated sensing and monitoring systems with technology for remote control and autonomous operation. Yara Birkeland will profit from skills and technology developed across the Kongsberg Group's business areas.  

Natural step

"The development of systems for autonomous operation is an important opportunity and a natural step for the Kongsberg Group, bearing in mind our long experience in developing and integrating advanced sensors and monitoring and communications systems within all areas of shipping operations. Yara Birkeland will set the standard for the use of innovative maritime technology for more efficient and environmentally friendly operations at sea," Håøy says.

For further information:
Kristin Nordal, Head of External Communications; Yara, Mobile: +47 900 15 550, Email:
Johannes Dobson, Communications Manager, Kongsberg Group, 906 77 262,

About Yara

Yara's knowledge, products and solutions go into profitable and responsible growth for farmers, distributors and industrial customers, while preserving and managing the earth's resources, food and environment.
Our mineral fertilisers, plant nutrition programmes and technology improve product quality and reduce the environmental impact of agriculture. Our industrial and environmental solutions lead to better air quality by reducing emissions from industry and transport, and constitute the key ingredients in the production of many different products. We encourage a culture which promotes safety for our employees, contractors and communities.
Yara was founded in 1905 as a response to growing hunger in Europe, and today has a presence over the whole world, with almost 15,000 employees and sales to some 160 countries.

About the Kongsberg Group (KONGSBERG)

KONGSBERG (OSE ticker symbol: KOG) is an international, knowledge-based group supplying high-technology systems and solutions to customers in the oil and gas industry, the merchant navy, the armed forces and aerospace. KONGSBERG has 7200 employees in more than 25 countries, and in 2106 had operating revenues of NOK 15.8 bn. Follow us on Twitter: @kongsbergasa.

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