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New Twists for Japanese Ene Farms

Over the last two months, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has selected at least four natural gas utilities to participate in “verification projects” under its Building Virtual Power Plant Using Customer-Side Energy Resources program. Participating utilities so far include Osaka Gas, Tokyo Gas, Seibu Gas, and J Power. The program is intended to facilitate the development of renewable electricity in Japan and is shining a new light on the deployment of fuel cells in the country's built environment.

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Wärtsilä, Repsol, and Knutsen to test ammonia four-stroke engine

This week, engine manufacturer Wärtsilä announced “the world’s first long term, full-scale, testing of ammonia as a fuel in a marine four-stroke combustion engine.” The project will begin in the first quarter of 2021, at the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre’s testing facilities at Stord, Norway. It is supported by a NOK 20 million (USD 2 million) grant from the Norwegian Research Council.

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Engie, Siemens, Ecuity, and STFC publish Feasibility of Ammonia-to-Hydrogen

The UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently published the feasibility study for its Ammonia to Green Hydrogen Project. This studies the techno-economic feasibility of importing green ammonia in order to supply large volumes of high-purity low-carbon hydrogen in the UK. The project has been designed and delivered by a heavyweight consortium of ENGIE, Siemens, Ecuity Consulting, and the UK’s STFC. The feasibility study, which is publicly available, represents the conclusion of Phase One of this project. Phase Two is demonstration: “to raise the TRL of a lithium imide based ammonia cracker from 4 to 6/7,” meaning that the technology is ready for deployment.

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Hydrogen in Australia: investments and jobs

There is so much hydrogen news coming out of Australia that it is hard to keep up. At the state level, Tasmania has released its draft plan to increase renewables to 200% of its electricity use by 2040. This marks a serious start to establishing a renewable energy export economy, and includes funding and policy support to ramp up green hydrogen and ammonia production and begin exports by 2027. At the federal level, ARENA announced that its AU$ 70 million funding round for large-scale, “shovel-ready,” renewable hydrogen projects received applications representing over $3 billion of commercial investments. Australia’s renewable hydrogen industry has appetite and momentum, “and we’re seeing a lot of projects ready to be built.” As if to prove the point, two developers in two weeks have each announced hydrogen projects that could produce a million tons per year of ammonia. These are at opposite ends of the low-carbon spectrum: Leigh Creek Energy's in-situ gasification (ISG) coal-to-ammonia plant; and Austom Hydrogen's 3.6 GW green hydrogen export project.

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AFC Energy to Demonstrate Ammonia-Fueled Gen-Sets in 2021

AFC Energy, the British fuel cell company, announced this week that it will demonstrate its H-Power fuel cell platform in collaboration with Spanish construction firm Acciona Construcción. In an interview with the “financial media portal” Proactive Investors, AFC’s Chief Executive Officer Adam Bond suggested that the collaboration could open the door for the company’s products as temporary power solutions at construction sites, saying “it does present us with some interesting and large opportunities.”

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Ammonia, Hydrogen P2X2P Demonstrations Slated for Europe

At this early point in the energy transition, many groups are formulating big-picture concepts for the design of a sustainable energy economy, and many more are developing discrete technologies that will be relevant as the transition advances. The multi-stakeholder H2020 European project known as “FLEXibilize combined cycle power plant through Power-to-X solutions using non-CONventional Fuels” (FLEXnCONFU) is coming from a different direction. Its premise is that construction of a bridge to the future should start now, and should be anchored in aspects of the current energy system that are likely to endure over the long-term.

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Green ammonia plant proposed for Orkney

Eneus Energy recently announced that it intends to build a green ammonia plant in Orkney, Scotland. Eneus describes itself as a “project developer and technology integrator for green ammonia,” and this announcement marks the first public disclosure of a site from its “portfolio” of projects under development. Orkney has been a net energy exporter since 2013, with wind, tidal, and wave energy generation far exceeding local demand; the islands have also been producing green hydrogen for some years. If this latest project moves ahead, the 11 ton per day green ammonia plant would be powered by two new wind turbines, each of 4.2 MW capacity, expanding the existing Hammars Hill wind farm and providing the island with a scalable solution for renewable energy storage and distribution that does not require grid transmission.

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Methane splitting and turquoise ammonia

Most hydrogen today is produced from fossil fuels – steam methane reforming of natural gas, partial oxidation of coal or oil residues – and entails large CO2 emissions. This fossil hydrogen can be called “grey hydrogen”. Or sometimes, brown. The same color scheme applies to the ammonia produced from it, so we have “grey ammonia.” Or brown ammonia, your call. The exact carbon footprint depends on the fuel used and the efficiency of the facility, so you could easily identify many shades of grey. There is, however, another option to deliver clean hydrogen – and now another colour: turquoise, or green-blue (or blue-green). This is the colour of hydrogen from methane pyrolysis, a process that directly splits methane into hydrogen and solid carbon. Instead of being a waste, like CO2, that must be disposed of safely, solid carbon is potentially a resource.

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Project GERI: BP’s green ammonia feasibility study

This week, ARENA announced funding for the Geraldton Export-Scale Renewable Investment (GERI) Feasibility Study, led by BP Australia. While this project begins small, with a pilot-scale 20,000 ton per year green ammonia plant selling into domestic markets, it could lead to a 1,000,000 ton per year (1.5 GW capacity), export-oriented green ammonia plant.

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Maritime Ammonia: ready for demonstration

At least four major maritime ammonia projects have been announced in the last few weeks, each of which aims to demonstrate an ammonia-fueled vessel operating at sea. In Norway, Color Fantasy, the world's largest RORO cruise liner, will pilot ammonia fuel. Across the broader Nordic region, the Global Maritime Forum has launched NoGAPS, a major consortium that aims to deploy "the world's first ammonia powered deep sea vessel" by 2025. In Japan, a new industry consortium has launched that goes beyond on-board ship technology to include "owning and operating the ships, supplying ammonia fuel and developing ammonia supply facilities." And the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), which published its roadmap last month, aims to demonstrate ammonia fuel on "an actual ship from 2028" — specifically, a 80,000 dwt ammonia-fueled bulk carrier.