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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.”

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Europe! (part 3)

The European Commission has added two building blocks to its burgeoning structure of economic and environmental policy initiatives. In separate communications on July 8, the EC announced An EU Strategy for Energy System Integration and A Hydrogen Strategy for a Climate-Neutral Europe. Together the two strategies present a practical pathway toward a sustainable energy economy.

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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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Europe! (continued)

Last week Ammonia Energy published “Europe!”, an article describing the European Commission’s Green Deal and the related appearance of national hydrogen strategies from several European countries. This week we have an article that describes another consequential European initiative that, while related to the Green Deal, is running on a distinct track: the Clean Hydrogen Alliance. Along the way a clear call to action has been sounded for the ammonia energy community.

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Europe!

Earlier this month Germany announced the adoption of a National Hydrogen Strategy. This is the latest piece to fall into place for the European Union’s broad strategy to become a zone of comprehensive sustainability. The German plan comes a few beats after the European Commission's unveiling of its Green Deal framework, but Germany is positioning itself as the organizational hub for the Green Deal's hydrogen energy elements.

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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.