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Tri-State announces clean energy plan, retires coal assets

Yesterday, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association launched its "transformative" Responsible Energy Plan, which will "dramatically and rapidly advance the wholesale power supply cooperative’s clean energy portfolio." Last week, the utility announced the retirement of its last coal-fired power plants in New Mexico and Colorado. These two announcements provide context for a presentation at the Ammonia Energy Conference in November 2019, entitled Market Integrated Ammonia. Its conclusion — highly relevant for a utility that is closing its coal plants and increasing renewables to 50% by 2024 — is that in a wholesale electricity market with increased volatility, renewable ammonia could be produced at the extremely low cost of $96 per tonne.

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Ammonia energy is now a talking point for CEOs

Chief executives of major corporations are now talking about ammonia energy. This represents another crucial step up the learning curve for clean industry: knowledge about ammonia's potential has successfully spread from the R&D department to the executive suite. This is the difference between development and deployment. The fertilizer industry saw this in 2018, when the CEOs of first movers like Yara and OCP announced green ammonia pilot plants. These latest announcements come, however, from the shipping and power sectors — far bigger industries, with no existing ammonia business — and they focus on the use of green ammonia: for fuel and for profit.

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Green Ammonia Consortium: A Force for Ammonia Energy

Japan’s Green Ammonia Consortium, an industry body dedicated to building “a value chain from supply to use of CO2-free ammonia,” launched its Web site on December 5. The site features plenty of interesting content, but most significant may be the roster of members. Eighty seven companies, public organizations, and individuals are listed. Taken together they represent a significant force for ammonia energy implementation in Japan and beyond.

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The cost of hydrogen: Platts launches Hydrogen Price Assessment

What does hydrogen really cost? Apparently, there's now a good answer to this question. $0.7955 per kg. This is according to the new daily hydrogen price assessment launched yesterday by Platts. Price assessments like this are invaluable for thriving markets, supporting transparency and developing into the benchmarks and indexes that underpin investments, trade, and regulations. This is a welcome innovation from the universe of financial product development. It will be interesting to see how Platts's hydrogen prices evolve, in terms of the cost structure of hydrogen production, of course, but also from the perspective of ammonia energy. If the purpose is to support commodity trading, these price assessments must eventually expand to include hydrogen carriers — molecules, like ammonia, that can be stored and transported more economically than hydrogen itself — in other words, commoditized hydrogen.

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Green Finance Prospects for Ammonia Energy

ANNUAL REVIEW 2019: Green finance, the deployment of capital to sustainable pursuits, has been gathering momentum for a decade. Kristoffer Olsen, now an independent consultant and formerly a member of the Ammonia Energy Association’s Board of Directors, argued in an August 2019 Ammonia Energy post that “Green Finance and Green Bonds can directly contribute to the decarbonisation of ammonia and future production of green ammonia fuel.” Other recent indications lend credence to Olsen’s assertion.

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The mining industry: a driving force behind green ammonia

ANNUAL REVIEW 2019: Ammonia is too often assumed to be only a fertilizer. This assumption overlooks other important uses for the chemical, large and small, in every corner of our economy. Some of the recent green ammonia announcements suggest that these other industries might, in fact, present better economic fundamentals for green ammonia investments than the fertilizer industry. Alternatively, these companies might have set their sights on becoming first movers in developing the commodities of the future. Time will tell but, if the last 12 months is any guide, the mining industry could be a force for change in the ammonia industry.

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Ammonia in the Mix as an Industrial Energy Source

ANNUAL REVIEW 2019: The generation of heat for industrial processes accounts for approximately 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions – which means that finding ways to eliminate this climate footprint is among the pressing technology tasks on our societal to-do list. Developments over the last 12 months suggest that ammonia could play an important role in meeting this challenge.

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Israeli Group Develops New Electrolysis Technology

Last month a group of researchers from the Technion Israel Institute of Technology published a paper, “Decoupled hydrogen and oxygen evolution by a two-step electrochemical–chemical cycle for efficient overall water splitting,” in the journal Nature Energy.  The key word in the title is “efficient.”  In a September 15 Technion press release, the researchers state that their technology “facilitates an unprecedented energetic efficiency of 98.7% in the production of hydrogen from water.”  Applied to the appropriate use case, the technology could lead to a major improvement in green ammonia’s ability to compete with brown ammonia and other low-carbon energy carriers.

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Green Bonds for Green Ammonia

Access to significant and competitively priced long-term financing is a crucial piece of the puzzle to enable the energy transition. Green Finance and Green Bonds can directly contribute to the decarbonisation of ammonia and future production of green ammonia fuel, helping to deliver the Paris Agreement’s preferred target of keeping warming below 1.5 °C.

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Yara and Nel collaborate to reduce electrolyzer costs; announce green ammonia pilot in Norway by 2022

This week, two Norwegian companies, fertilizer producer Yara and electrolyzer manufacturer Nel, announced an agreement to test Nel's "next generation" alkaline electrolyzer at an ammonia production site. The parties expect to begin operating a 5 MW prototype in 2022, feeding green hydrogen directly into Yara's 500,000 ton per year ammonia plant at Porsgrunn.