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The Los Angeles Clean Energy Target & ammonia energy (RFI now open)

This week the Los Angeles City Council voted to transition to 100% clean energy by 2035, in line with President Biden’s national goals and a decade earlier than the city originally planned. This huge rollout of renewable energy generation is expected to be accompanied by a keystone role for renewable hydrogen, ammonia and synthetic methane for combustion-based power generation.

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UK publishes national Hydrogen Strategy

The UK government has launched its vision for a society-wide hydrogen economy, with the first phase to entail 5 GW of low-carbon hydrogen production by 2030. Of huge interest to our readers here at Ammonia Energy are the explicit references in the report to the important future role of ammonia as: i) a maritime fuel, ii) a peaking power fuel for gas turbines, and iii) an export vector.

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bp & ARENA confirm feasibility of large-scale green ammonia production in Western Australia

bp and ARENA's eighteen-month feasibility study into the Geraldton Export-Scale Renewable Investment (GERI) project wrapped up this week - with encouraging results. The two organisations conclude that "Western Australia is an ideal place to develop large scale renewable energy assets that can in turn produce green hydrogen and/or green ammonia for domestic and export markets".

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Hydrogen Council publishes Life-Cycle Analysis of Decarbonization Pathways

The Hydrogen Council has published a valuable report with a rigorous life-cycle assessment (LCA) of greenhouse gas emissions from various hydrogen applications. It illustrates the report with eight specific examples, two of which focus on ammonia. With green hydrogen as an input to ammonia used in fertilizer production, we could deliver a 96% reduction in emissions. With blue hydrogen exported and combusted as ammonia for electric power generation, we could deliver an 84% reduction in emissions. As the report states at the start: “Life-cycle emissions are coming into focus with scaling-up of hydrogen … To deliver on the sustainability promise, it is … not only important to make it economically viable, but also maximize its decarbonization potential.”

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Carbon intensity of fossil ammonia in a net-zero world

In discussions of carbon capture technology for low-carbon ammonia production, there are two informal rule-of-thumb numbers: 60% and 90%. We know we can capture, at very little additional cost, over 60% of the CO2 from a natural gas-based ammonia plant because this is the process gas (the byproduct of hydrogen production). Many ammonia plants already utilize this pure CO2 stream to produce urea or to sell as food grade CO2. The remaining CO2 emissions are in the much more dilute flue gas (the product of fuel combustion to power the process). For some decades we have assumed we could capture most of this but the lingering question has always been: how much of that flue gas is economically feasible to capture? A team of researchers at Imperial College London has just published a fascinating study into this question, entitled “Beyond 90% capture: Possible, but at what cost?” The paper quantifies the tipping point — ranging from 90% to 99%, depending on flow rates and concentration — beyond which it is easier to capture CO2 directly from the air than it is to capture more flue gas emissions.

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Techno-Economic Challenges of Green Ammonia as an Energy Vector

Techno-Economic Challenges of Green Ammonia as an Energy Vector, a new textbook, was issued in September by scientific and technical publisher Elsevier. The 340-page volume was written by Agustin Valera-Medina of Cardiff University and Rene Banares-Alcantara of Oxford University. The book is a valuable consolidation of knowledge across the many aspects of ammonia energy, and seems destined to become a go-to reference for current and future technologists, project developers, and policy makers.

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The Cost of CO2-free Ammonia

If ammonia is to be introduced into the energy system as a CO2-free fuel, its cost must be at least competitive with that of other CO2-free fuels such as CO2-free hydrogen. In the discussion below I consider the cost aspect of CO2-free ammonia. To state my conclusion at the beginning, the cost of CO2-free ammonia can be less than 30 yen/Nm3-H2, which is the 2030 cost target for hydrogen energy set by the Japanese government in its "Basic Hydrogen Strategy” for introducing hydrogen energy into Japan.

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Picking bunker winners: the mono-fuel / dual-fuel duel

This week, DNV GL published its annual Maritime Forecast to 2050, concluding that “e-ammonia, blue ammonia and bio-methanol are the most promising carbon-neutral fuels in the long run.” DNV GL’s assumptions that determine this long run, however, suggest a significant mid-term reliance on fossil LNG. This risks locking the industry into a long-term emissions trajectory incompatible with the IMO’s 2050 GHG targets, in part because of significant fuel supply and infrastructure investments. These investments could become more ‘sticky’ than expected. A host of alternative opinions have been published in the days before and after DNV GL published its report. These suggest that, for ammonia, the long run could begin this decade. Among others, MAN ES has announced that its ammonia engine will be available for retrofits by 2025.