Electric propulsion as the future of cargo shipping: The Norwegian company Yara is currently working on an electric freighter. "Yara Birkeland" is to be launched in 2020 as an emission-free, fully electrically powered container ship. The Norwegian government is supporting the development with more than 13 million euros - one third of the total costs.
By 2022 "Yara Birkeland" is to be gradually converted to fully autonomous operation. The independently navigating electric freighter would be the first of its kind.
Norwegian company Yara is behind the construction. It takes its products to nearby ports by truck, from where they are shipped all over the world. The transport distance is relatively short, but due to the large volumes 40,000 trips are made every year. "With the freighter, we are shifting the transport from road to sea, thereby reducing noise and dust pollution and saving NOX and CO2 emissions," says Yara boss Tore Holsether.
Norway already deploys an electric car ferry. The Netherlands are also working on an ambitious project with the construction of an electric freighter as a feeder to the port of Rotterdam. For ocean shipping, however, battery propulsion with its limited range is not a solution. Hopes are pinned on hydrogen, especially so-called liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC). However, the use of such technologies is still in its infancy.