As a joint venture between chemical production firm Yara and maritime technology company Kongsberg, the Yara Birkeland was announced back in 2017 as the world's first all-electric and autonomous container ship. The plan is to use the ship to ferry chemicals and fertilizer from Yara's production plant in Prosgrunn to nearby towns, making significant reductions in NOx and CO2 emissions by negating the need for diesel-powered truck transport.
The 80-meter-long (262-ft) vessel is powered by a 6.8-mWh battery pack and can carry up to 3,200 tons at a maximum speed of 15 knots (28 km/h, 17 mph). Alongside production of the ship itself, Yara is tapping into its own stocks of ammonia used in its fertilizer production to develop a zero-carbon fuel source for eventual use aboard the Yara Birkeland. There is considerable and growing interest in ammonia as an alternative to diesel for long-haul shipping, though there are many kinks to iron out in terms of its production and how it can best be used.