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Japan’s Road Map for Fuel Ammonia

This month, the Japanese Ministry for Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) began promoting an updated Road Map for Fuel Ammonia, focused on the use of ammonia in thermal power plants and as a shipping fuel. By 2030, Japan expects to import 3 million tons of clean ammonia, with demand rising to 30 million tons by 2050. To secure these volumes, Japanese companies are now making investments up and down the supply chain. These are ambitious numbers, matching Japan’s recent commitment to reach net-zero emissions, but still they miss the big picture. The broader economic opportunity arrives when Japanese companies export their fuel ammonia technologies, decarbonizing coal-fired power plants across Asia, and then supply the fuel to these newly sustainable shipping and electricity sectors. By 2050, the METI Road Map expects Japanese trading companies to supply the wider region with 100 million tons per year of clean ammonia.

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Hydrogen Forward, as the United States pivots to clean energy policy

At the start of this month, a coalition of eleven corporations launched a new advocacy body, Hydrogen Forward, with the explicit purpose of lobbying the United States government to pursue a national hydrogen strategy. "While Europe and East Asia have committed to investing hundreds of billions of dollars into hydrogen solutions, the U.S. is the only major market without a national hydrogen strategy. A comprehensive approach is critical because it provides a much-needed framework to enable fast, large-scale adoption."

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Yara’s green ammonia project YURI gets further boosts

There were two new funding announcements last week concerning Yara’s YURI renewable ammonia project, to be built next to their Pilbara fertiliser plant in Western Australia. The Pilbara ammonia plant is an ideal demonstration site for green hydrogen and green ammonia at an industrial scale. This export-oriented plant has an annual capacity of 850,000 tons per year of ammonia, representing about 5% of the world’s merchant ammonia supply, and while the current site uses natural gas as fuel and feedstock it is situated adjacent to rich solar and wind energy resources. These announcements show that interest in YURI is strong from Australian local, state, and federal governments, with more funding opportunities in the pipeline.

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Ammonia Featured in Japan’s New Green Growth Strategy

Last month Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) unveiled a policy platform that will help the country realize its goal of achieving carbon-neutrality by 2050. According to a December 25, 2020 METI press release, the “Green Growth Strategy towards 2050 Carbon Neutrality” sets goals for 14 “priority fields” and “formulates action plans covering comprehensive policies in areas such as budgets, taxes, regulation reforms and standardization, and international collaboration.” “Ammonia fuel” and hydrogen are each the focus of a distinct priority field.

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METI Forms Ammonia Energy Council

Last week, Japan’s Ministry of Energy, Trade, and Industry (METI) announced the formation of a council to work on the implementation of ammonia as an energy commodity. The announcement came on the same day as a speech by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in which he established 2050 as the date certain for Japan to achieve carbon-neutrality. That was Monday October 26, 2020. The council held its first meeting on Tuesday October 27. The Council consists of four entities from the public sector and ten from the private sector. Members include companies that have previously been identified with the development of ammonia energy systems, including EPC firm JGC, capital goods manufacturer IHI, electric utility JERA, and shipping company NYK Line. The membership also reflects what appears to be the group’s central mission: positioning Japan as ammonia energy’s global leader via the dissemination of technology and the development of supply chains.

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Japan’s Electricity Sector: An Early Market for Low-Carbon Ammonia

This week, Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that by 2050 the country would drive its greenhouse gas emissions to zero and achieve carbon-neutrality. Earlier in the month, the Japanese electric utility JERA announced its intention of “achieving zero CO2 emissions by 2050.” Its first step toward this goal was its 'JERA Zero CO2 Emissions 2050 Roadmap for its Business in Japan.'

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US Senators Show Strong Interest in Ammonia-Fueled Shipping

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ranking Member Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), recently hosted a hearing on offshore energy technologies. I was invited to testify on technology and policy options for eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from the marine shipping sector, and I used the opportunity to spotlight ammonia's central role in that effort.

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Series Presents Japanese Perspective on Ammonia as a CO2-Free Fuel

From 2014 to 2018, I served as Deputy Program Director of SIP “Energy Carriers” under Mr. Shigeru Muraki, Program Director, and alongside my fellow Deputy Program Director, Dr. Ken-ichi Aika. After helping to bring the Energy Carriers' work to a successful conclusion, I decided to write a series of articles that describe prospects for ammonia as a CO2-free fuel and hydrogen carrier, as well as activities to construct a value chain of CO2-free ammonia. The articles were published in the on-line journal of Japan’s International Environment and Economy Institute (IEEI).

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Hyundai joins Fortescue and CSIRO to “fast track” ammonia to high-purity hydrogen system

Fortescue recently announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Hyundai Motor Company and CSIRO for the “development and future commercialisation” of its metal membrane technology. This technology, which produces high-purity compressed hydrogen from liquid ammonia, was demonstrated in 2018. It enables PEM fuel cell vehicles to refuel using hydrogen that is generated on demand from ammonia. At scale, this technology could enable an ammonia-based hydrogen production, storage, and distribution infrastructure, lowering the barriers to implementation of a national network of hydrogen filling stations. Now, “Hyundai will seek to demonstrate the viability of the technology for renewable hydrogen production and vehicle fuelling in Korea.”