Yara International has announced that it will soon commence commercial operations of its long-awaited Yara Birkeland, the world’s first electric and self-propelled container ship. It will also begin a two-year test period prior to entering full autonomous operation on a route off the coast of Norway.
The Yara Birkeland has completed its maiden voyage to Oslo in mid-November and then sailed on to Porsgrunn, the southern Norwegian production site of Yara International, a fertilizer manufacturer, and the vessel owner.
The container ship is approximately 80 meters long and 15 meters wide, with a deadweight of 3,120 tonnes or 120 standard containers (TEU). This electrically powered green vessel will operate at a service speed of approximately 6 knots (11 km/h, 7 mph), with a maximum speed of 13 knots (24 km/h, 15 mph).
The Yara Birkeland is powered by a Leclanché high-energy lithium-ion battery system. Leclanché supplied a 6.7 MWh battery system for the ship’s emission-free and safe energy supply. The battery system is provided with integrated liquid cooling to ensure optimum operating temperature that ranges from -20 to +55°C.
This Leclanché Marine Rack System consists of 20 strings with 51 modules of 32 cells each, for a total of 32,640 cells. The battery system has built-in redundancy, with eight separate battery rooms, so if multiple strings are emptied or stop working, the vessel can continue its operations. Each battery string contains gas and smoke detectors, redundant thermal monitoring, and a cooling system to prevent overheating and thermal incidents.
According to the company, the vessel’s operation will displace around 40,000 truck journeys per year and the associated NOx and CO2 emissions. It also reduces noise and air pollution while in port. The batteries are charged automatically with electricity from renewable sources.
“Leclanché’s marine rack system provides 30% higher energy density and up to a 230% greater life cycle than competitive systems – in addition to its reputation for having the safest battery system design,” said Guillaume Clement, VP e-Marine, Leclanché. “Thanks to Yara, the maritime industry has entered a new era where sustainable shipping is demonstrated as a viable solution for a very large range of ships and businesses.”