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Yara Birkeland – world’s first autonomous electric containership launched

Those clever Norwegians have gone and built the world’s first electric autonomous containership. Which is a big deal. The 80 metre long Yara Birkeland had its maiden voyage last week, and when operational will apparently cut the emissions of 40,000 truckloads of freight per year. Initial routes will be very local, delivering fertilizer from a factory to distribution depot down the Norwegian coast.Interestingly we’re not given any figures for the vessel’s range, which suggests that it’s not that large. The first trips look like they’ll top out at 30 nautical miles. The other facts worth mentioning are the service speed of 6 knots, a maximum speed of 13 knots and a 7 – 9 MWh battery pack. Ocean racer this ain’t. But it’s a fantastic milestone for a maritime industry desperately searching for an environmental win amongst a sea of depressing numbers.

Bunker fuel, which most large ships use as fuel, is probably the dirtiest, nastiest most polluting guck in the world. If we’re ever to start meeting our climate goals, this stuff has got to go. Anyway we’ll be watching these developments with interest to see how far and how fast things progress over the next five years.

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