Norwegian Government enterprise Enova has announced plans to provide a Nkr133.6m ($17m) grant to Yara to help construct an electric and autonomous container ship.

Yara previously formed a partnership with technology company Kongsberg to build the ship, named Yara Birkeland, in May.

Yara Birkeland is expected to be launched by the first quarter of 2019 and will be used to transport fertiliser from the company’s production plant in Porsgrunn to container ports in Brevik and Larvikin, Norway.

Yara will be able to eliminate roughly 40,000 diesel-powered truck transport journeys per year by deploying the vessel.

Yara CEO Svein Tore Holsether said: “For the private sector, it is essential to have the government’s support when we develop new technology and deliver bold innovations.

“It allows us to be daring and explore the unknown.

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“The making of Yara Birkeland is an excellent example of a public-private partnership in practice.”

The company has also launched a test model of Yara Birkeland in the 80m-long sea laboratory at SINTEF Ocean in Trondheim, Norway.

The 6m-long model vessel weighs approximately 2.4t and was designed by Marin Teknikk. 

"In order to succeed with this project we have to collaborate with leading competence hubs and companies within maritime technology."

Yara expects to carry out further testing of the model in the coming weeks.

Yara CEO Svein Tore Holsether said: “In order to succeed with this project we have to collaborate with leading competence hubs and companies within maritime technology, like Kongsberg on autonomous technology, Marin Teknikk on ship design, SINTEF Ocean on testing of the model and DNV GL on certification.

“In addition, an important job is now being done by Norwegian maritime authorities to adapt legislation and regulations.”

Yara Birkeland will be the world’s first electric and autonomous container ship upon completion.

Image: Yara Birkeland model. Photo: courtesy of Yara.