World’s first zero emissions, crewless ship to set sail in Norway

An autonomous, zero-emission cargo ship by a Norwegian company will set sail before the end of the year.

Chemical company Yara International designed the first fully electric container ship in order to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

The ship is set to travel between two Norwegian towns before the year ends, without a crew onboard. The movement of the ship will be monitored from three data control centers onshore.

According to the International Maritime Organisation, the shipping industry currently accounts for between 2.5% and 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Jon Sletten, the plant manager of Yara’s factory in Porsgrunn, Norway, said that the ship can carry 103 containers and that it has “about a thousand times the capacity of one electrical car.” He added that one back and forth journey of this ship could replace 40,000 truck journeys a year.

However, Rudy Negenborn, a maritime and transport technology professor at Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands, says there are still challenges to overcome before autonomous ships can be used for commercial long sea journeys. He said navigating traffic in large ports may be an obstacle.

“The Yara Birkeland operates along the Norwegian coast, but if it went further, then it might encounter other territorial regions with perhaps different rules and regulations that need to be met,” said Negenborn.

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