Cepsa: renewable ammonia in Spain

Spanish energy & chemicals giant Cepsa has announced two new, significant ammonia partnerships this week, boosting prospects for renewable ammonia production on the Iberian peninsula.

ACE Terminal, Rotterdam

A green hydrogen corridor between southern Spain and the Netherlands, with Cepsa to supply ammonia imports to ACE Terminal in Rotterdam. Source: Cepsa.
Click to enlarge. A green hydrogen corridor between southern Spain and the Netherlands, with Cepsa to supply ammonia imports to ACE Terminal in Rotterdam. Source: Cepsa.

Cepsa will supply renewable ammonia imports to ACE Terminal in Rotterdam from 2027, realizing the vision for a green maritime corridor between the Netherlands and the Mediterranean that was announced in October last year. The ammonia imports will be used directly in industrial processes or as maritime fuel, or cracked back into hydrogen at the Port of Rotterdam. ACE Terminal was launched in April last year, with Gasunie’s existing ammonia storage infrastructure on the Maasvlakte to be revamped to include deep-sea berths, additional storage and connections to the Netherland’s under-development hydrogen pipeline network.

Based at its two “energy parks” in southern Spain (San Roque and La Rábida), Cepsa is planning 1 GW-worth of renewable hydrogen production capacity near each site, powered by wind and solar (see below for the first example). Two electrolysis plants totalling €3 billion in investment will become part of a larger Andalusian Green Hydrogen Valley.

The MoU between Cepsa and ACE Terminal entails a cooperation intended to lead to a binding commercial agreement to facilitate the oversea transport of green ammonia, to redistribute the green ammonia to end markets in the hinterland, and to process the green ammonia into green hydrogen ready for use by end customers in Northwest Europe. The location of ACE Terminal in the port of Rotterdam offers direct connection to Rotterdam’s industry and the planned national hydrogen network, and has an excellent connection to the infrastructure into Northwest Europe.

By importing green energy that can be produced competitively by Cepsa in southern Spain thanks to conditions such as ample sun, wind and land, a solid electricity grid and access to high traffic ports, the alliance helps to decarbonize industry and transport in the North and ensure energy independence, security and affordability in Europe.

MoU details in Cepsa’s official press release, 20 Feb 2023

Partnerships like these are examples of the collaboration needed across Europe to ensure energy security without jeopardising climate targets, and the important role that Cepsa, and Spain, can and must play in this journey.

Cepsa CEO Maarten Wetselaar in his organisation’s official press release, 20 Feb 2023

Fertiberia, Palos de la Frontera

Cepsa’s La Rábida energy park is located close to Palos de la Frontera, where Fertiberia currently operates a 400,000 tonnes per year ammonia production plant (as well as other fertiliser manufacturing facilities). Fertiberia first launched a decarbonisation initiative at Palos de la Frontera in 2020, and selected Cummins to provide electrolysers for such a project in May 2021. Now, the pair will come together to develop a 1 GW renewable hydrogen plant near La Rábida energy park, producing hydrogen feedstock for Fertiberia’s Palos de la Frontera complex and Cepsa’s own industrial needs.

Cepsa and Fertbiera are two of Spain’s largest consumers of hydrogen, and – via this agreement alone – will meet the Spanish government’s target for 25% of national hydrogen consumption in industry to be renewable by 2030. The pair will also consider additional production of renewable fuels (ammonia and methanol) in the region and elsewhere in Spain.

Our alliance with Cepsa is significant, as it implies a collaboration between the two companies with the longest industrial tradition in the province of Huelva and which account for nearly all the hydrogen consumption in Andalusia today…It will also further the full decarbonization of our assets and our positioning as a leader in green ammonia and sustainable crop nutrition solutions.

CEO of Grupo Fertiberia Javier Goñi in Cepsa’s official press release, 22 Feb 2023
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