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Green ammonia demonstration plant in The Netherlands

Last month, a heavyweight consortium of local and global companies announced plans to collaborate on a project to design, build, operate, and evaluate a demonstration plant to produce "green ammonia" from water, air, and renewable energy in The Netherlands. This is one practical outcome of last year's Power-to-Ammonia study, which examined the economic and technical feasibility of using tidal power off the island of Goeree-Overflakkee in Zuid-Holland to power a 25 MWe electrolyzer unit, and feed renewable hydrogen to a 20,000 ton per year green ammonia plant. This new demonstration plant phase of the project will still be led by the original developer, Dutch mini-ammonia plant developer Proton Ventures. However, its partners in the venture now include Yara and Siemens, as well as speciality fertilizer producer Van Iperen, and local sustainable agricultural producer, the Van Peperstraten Groep.

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Renewable Hydrogen in Fukushima and a Bridge to the Future

On August 1, 2017 the Japan Government’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) announced that it will proceed with funding for the construction of a hydrogen production plant in Namie Township, about ten kilometers from the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  The project’s budget is not mentioned, but the installation is projected to be “the largest scale in the world” -- in other words, a real bridge to the future and not a demonstration project.  The project no doubt has a variety of motivations, not least the symbolic value of a renewable hydrogen plant rising in the shadow of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station.  In economic terms, though, it appears to be a dead end.  This is unfortunate because a similarly conceived project based on ammonia could be a true bridge-building step that aligns with leading-edge developments elsewhere in the world.

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On the Ground in Japan: Residential Fuel Cells

Last week Kaden Watch, a Japanese Web site for appliance news, reported that Tokyo Gas had delivered its 80,000th Ene Farm residential fuel cell system. This small news item, delivered by a niche media outlet, lifts a critical corner of the decidedly “big-tent” story of Japan’s strategy to develop a hydrogen-based energy economy. How the Ene Farm topic develops is likely to be a major factor in Japan’s ability to sustain its hydrogen vision -- and possibly a determinant of the role ammonia could play within it.

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On the Ground in Japan: LH2 and MCH Hydrogen Fueling Stations

While Japan’s Cross-Ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program (SIP) continues to evaluate liquid hydrogen (LH2), methylcyclohexane (MCH), and ammonia as hydrogen energy carriers, Japanese press reports show that the backers of liquid hydrogen and MCH are building an early lead over ammonia with hydrogen fueling stations based on their favored commodities.

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Industrial demonstrations of ammonia fuel in Japan

Most of the ammonia energy projects I write about are in the research and development phase but, as I've said before, technology transfer from the academic lab to commercial deployment is moving swiftly - especially in Japan. Last week, Nikkei Asian Review published two articles outlining plans by major engineering and power firms to build utility-scale demonstrations using ammonia as a fuel for electricity generation. Both projects aim to reduce the carbon intensity of the Japanese electrical grid, incrementally but significantly, by displacing a portion of the fossil fuels with ammonia. The first project will generate power using an ammonia-coal mix, while the second will combine ammonia with natural gas.