Article

The Future is Here for Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell Technology

Earlier this month the journal Science published “Recent advances in solid oxide cell technology for electrolysis." The paper advances two important theses: first, solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) technology has an important role to play in the sustainable energy economy of the future; second, SOEC technology has achieved a set of economics that make commercial viability possible today.

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Low-carbon ammonia in Nebraska and the Netherlands

Last week, two new low-carbon ammonia production projects were announced, both of them large-scale and largely CO2-free. Monolith Materials announced a 275,000 ton per year “clean ammonia” plant in Nebraska, in the heart of the US cornbelt. The plant will begin construction in 2021, expanding the existing demonstration plant, using Monolith’s methane pyrolysis process powered by 100% renewable electricity. Ørsted and Yara announced their plan to produce 75,000 tons per year of “green ammonia” at Yara’s existing Sluiskil plant in the Netherlands. They intend to install a 100 MW electrolyzer, using Ørsted’s offshore wind energy, with a final investment decision expected in 2021-2022, and production beginning in 2024-2025.

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Haldor Topsøe and Partners Issue Ammonfuel Report

Earlier this month Haldor Topsoe and four partners issued Ammonfuel - an industrial view of ammonia as marine fuel. According to the accompanying press release, the 59-page report provides “a comprehensive and up-to-date overview of the applicability, scalability, cost, and sustainability of ammonia as a marine fuel.” The partners include Vestas, Siemens Gamesa, Hafnia, and Alfa Laval.

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Hydrogen Stands Out in BP’s New Strategy

Last week oil major BP released its second quarter financial results – and used the occasion to share the company’s new strategy. “We aim to be a very different kind of energy company by 2030,” the company said, “as we scale up investment in low-carbon, focus our oil and gas production and make headway on reducing emissions.” “Investment in low-carbon” turns out to involve full embrace of the hydrogen paradigm circa 2020: power-to-gas; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; and the possibility of a “hydrogen export” business based on ammonia.

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Solar ammonia, available in Spain from 2021

Last week, Iberdrola and Fertiberia announced plans to start producing green ammonia for “fertilizantes libres de emisiones” (emission-free fertilizers). Iberdrola will invest EUR 150 million to build the 100 MW “Puertollano II” solar field, with a 20 MW electrolyzer bank to produce renewable hydrogen. Fertiberia will “update and modify” its existing Puertollano plant to consume this green hydrogen, reducing its natural gas use by “over 10%,” and producing green ammonia beginning in 2021.

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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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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.