ACE Terminal: importing ammonia to Rotterdam from 2026

Gasunie, HES International and Vopak join forces

Concept design for ACE Terminal in Rotterdam.
Click to enlarge. Concept design for ACE Terminal in Rotterdam.

Together, the trio will develop an import terminal for ammonia on Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte. Design will begin this year, with operations to begin in 2026 under the name ACE Terminal. A detailed graphic visualisation of the proposed import terminal can be seen on the right. It indicates several interesting design features:

  • the terminal will be based on Gasunie’s existing ammonia storage infrastructure on the Maasvlakte, with room to build more on neighboring HES sites.
  • a deep-sea quay will allow access for VLGC vessels, with direct access to sea shipping lanes around Rotterdam.
  • to complement storage and allow for the use of hydrogen fuel, an ammonia cracker could possibly be a design feature.
  • there will also be a direct connection to Gasunie’s national hydrogen pipeline network in the Netherlands, which will in turn feed into European hydrogen grids.

The announcement makes clear that while green imports are the focus, blue ammonia imports are possible in the initial phase:

An import terminal for green ammonia will make a vital contribution to the import of hydrogen, an essential link in the hydrogen chain, alongside hydrogen production, transport and storage. A reliable logistic chain is essential for developing the market for green hydrogen and for achieving the climate goals for 2030 and 2050.

Vopak’s official press release, 11 Apr 2022

And that the ACE Terminals project will leverage the existing infrastructure & ammonia expertise of the three partners for maximum effect:

At the intended location on Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte, vessels from all over the world can moor to discharge green ammonia, and in the initial phase possibly also blue ammonia…On the Maasvlakte, HES operates a strategic location with quayside capacity and direct access from the sea. Gasunie has at this location infrastructure of existing storage tanks and a system of pipelines. Vopak, with six ammonia terminals around the world, has extensive experience in the safe storage of ammonia. By joining forces, an attractive starting point will be established from which within just a few years, the partners will be able to realise the import location for green ammonia in Rotterdam.

Vopak’s official press release, 11 Apr 2022

Netherlands, Germany

The announcement follows the news last month that RWE is planning a green ammonia import terminal in Brunsbüttel, Germany. Similarly to the Rotterdam project, RWE announced the immediate focus of their project would be gas imports, before a switch to green molecules by 2026. And of course work is still underway in Wilhelmshaven (also Germany), where Uniper are converting their existing coal power station into a climate-friendly hydrogen hub that will receive ammonia imports.

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