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Ammonia plant revamp to decarbonize: Yara Sluiskil

Last year, Yara Sluiskil, in the Netherlands, upgraded its existing ammonia plant by introducing a hydrogen pipeline connection, thereby reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. The pipeline was commissioned in October 2018 and now "ensures the efficient and safe transport of hydrogen," which was previously a waste-product at Dow's nearby ethylene cracker. Already, the project "delivers a CO2 saving of 10,000 tons" and a decrease in energy consumption of "0.15 petajoules (PJ) per year." This is, perhaps, the first ammonia plant decarbonization revamp, and it shows that it is both possible and affordable to reduce emissions from existing ammonia plants today.

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New P2A2P Scheme Proposed in Norway

Svalbard, the Norwegian archipelago that sits far above the Arctic Circle, is being considered for the back end of an electricity-to-ammonia-to-electricity (P2A2P) scheme.  As reported in Norway's Teknisk Ukeblad (TU), the state-owned utility Statkraft has surfaced ammonia as one of four possible hydrogen-oriented solutions to meet Svalbard’s energy needs – and then short-listed it for further study.

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CSIRO Partner Revealed for NH3-to-H2 Technology

Last week Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) announced the formation of a partnership that will support commercialization of CSIRO’s high-purity ammonia-to-hydrogen conversion technology.  Michael Dolan, Principal Research Scientist for the ammonia-to-hydrogen project, had signaled such a development on the occasion of the technology’s first public demonstration in August 2018, saying in a contemporaneous Ammonia Energy post that the identity of “a major industrial partner” would be revealed shortly. The partner turns out to be Fortescue Metals Group (FMG).  A November 22 article in Business Insider Australia states that the company will invest “[AUD]$19.1 million [USD$13.8] in technology developed by the CSIRO to make hydrogen vehicles viable in a potential gamechanger for the transport industry.”

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NH3 Energy Implementation Conference: A Brief Report

The 2018 NH3 Energy Implementation Conference, the first of its kind, took place on November 1 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the U.S. The focus of the Conference was on steps – current and future – that will lead to implementation of ammonia energy in the global economy.  At the highest level, the Conference results validated the relevance and timeliness of the theme.  In the words of closing speaker Grigorii Soloveichik, Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s ARPA-E REFUEL Program, the Conference strengthened his confidence that “ammonia is a great energy carrier ... with billions of dollars of potential in prospective markets.”

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Fossil Energy Companies Turn to Ammonia

In the last 12 months ... National oil companies in Europe and the Middle East are looking to satisfy East Asian demand for clean hydrogen by exporting carbon-free ammonia. One of the biggest global LNG exporters is investigating ammonia for the same market, as it considers Australia's future as a renewable energy exporter. Oil majors are assessing ammonia's role in implementing an affordable hydrogen economy, looking toward fuel markets in California and Europe. And the biggest coal producer in China is funding the development of "the world’s first practical ammonia-powered vehicle."

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Maritime Industry Targets Ammonia Fuel to Decarbonize Shipping

In the last 12 months ... The International Maritime Organization issued its Initial GHG Strategy, committing the global shipping industry to emission reductions that cannot be achieved with carbon-based fuels. This single action is the regulatory trigger that unleashes a three-decade transition to carbon-free liquid fuels like ammonia. The target date for this 50% reduction in emissions is 2050 but, given the long economic life of ocean vessels, the transition must begin immediately.

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Targets, Limits, Pledges, Bans: Enforcing the Transition to Sustainable Energy

In the last 12 months ... California passed a law mandating 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045; then its governor announced that the state's entire energy system - not just its electricity - would be carbon-neutral by 2045. The Hydrogen Council announced its "goal of decarbonizing 100% of hydrogen fuel used in transport by 2030." The International Maritime Organization set targets for the global shipping sector to “reduce the total annual GHG emissions by at least 50% by 2050,” and completely “phase them out, as soon as possible in this century,” and these targets were swiftly endorsed by the International Chamber of Shipping. Regulators and self-regulating organizations around the world are enforcing systemic decarbonization and accelerating the transition to a hydrogen economy.

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Ammonia as a Grid-Supporting Energy Storage Solution

In the last 12 months ... We have seen repeated enunciations of a compelling logic chain: electricity generated by wind-based and photovoltaic systems is manifesting ever-more competitive economics; the greater the share of electricity generated by intermittently active resources, the greater will be the need for complementary energy storage systems; chemical forms of “X” in the power-to-X (P2X) stored-electricity construct will surely have a role to play in long-term, large-scale energy storage; ammonia may be the most advantageous chemical for such storage.

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This Week in Hydrogen

September 10–14 gave us five remarkable events both evidencing and advancing the rise of hydrogen in transportation and energy. Any one of them would have made it a significant week; together they make a sea change.

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ITM Power, Sumitomo Enter Strategic Partnership

ITM Power and Sumitomo Corporation have entered into a strategic partnership “for the development of multi-megawatt projects in Japan based exclusively on ITM Power’s electrolyser products.”  The two companies will also look for collaborative opportunities outside Japan.  In a July 9 press release, ITM refers to the two companies’ shared vision for “the use of hydrogen to decarbonise heat, transport and industrial processes” as the foundation for the arrangement.