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The Ammonia Wrap: Ørsted’s P2X vision for the North Sea, Gunvor’s new sustainability commitments, the finance world backs green hydrogen and Hydrofuel-Ontario Tech’s new partnership

Welcome to the Ammonia Wrap: a summary of all the latest announcements, news items and publications about ammonia energy. This week: Ørsted unveils its P2X vision for the North Sea, energy trader Gunvor commits $500 million to sustainability, emissions reductions, finance world backs green hydrogen, Hydrofuel and Ontario Tech join forces and a new blue hydrogen/ammonia collaboration.

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The Ammonia Wrap: OCI to charter ammonia-fueled vessels, Japanese CCGT units await ammonia, more green ammonia for Chile, new South Korea and Uruguay updates

Welcome to the Ammonia Wrap: a summary of all the latest announcements, news items and publications about ammonia energy. This week: OCI to charter ammonia-fueled vessels, new carbon-free maritime fuels forecast, Hokkaido Electric postpones CCGT deployment, awaits ammonia, more green ammonia for Chile, Net-zero Teesside to include CF Industries ammonia production, South Korea and Uruguay.

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Hydrogen Council publishes Life-Cycle Analysis of Decarbonization Pathways

The Hydrogen Council has published a valuable report with a rigorous life-cycle assessment (LCA) of greenhouse gas emissions from various hydrogen applications. It illustrates the report with eight specific examples, two of which focus on ammonia. With green hydrogen as an input to ammonia used in fertilizer production, we could deliver a 96% reduction in emissions. With blue hydrogen exported and combusted as ammonia for electric power generation, we could deliver an 84% reduction in emissions. As the report states at the start: “Life-cycle emissions are coming into focus with scaling-up of hydrogen … To deliver on the sustainability promise, it is … not only important to make it economically viable, but also maximize its decarbonization potential.”

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Ammonia Asset Transition for New Markets

With over $900 billion worth of assets at risk of being stranded by the energy transition, operators must act now in order to compete in the future. Ammonia, as an already widely traded commodity, may prove to be the vehicle to deliver decarbonised gas resources ahead of a completed transition. Reimagining how we deliver energy is essential to people, planet and economy. Blue ammonia offers a step to realise national gas monetization objectives with the utopia of green ammonia. This presentation with showcase the challenges and opportunities that await and how well we are prepared.

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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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Saudi Arabia ships low-carbon ammonia to Japan

Last week, Saudi Aramco and the IEEJ attracted significant media attention when they announced that the first “blue” ammonia has been shipped to Japan. Aramco’s celebration of this shipment of 40 tons of ammonia (not 40 thousand or 40 million, just 40 tons) raises many questions, but makes three things clear. First, projects to demonstrate the carbon footprint of specific batches of low-carbon ammonia are now underway, and these case studies will inform the design of an international low-carbon ammonia certification scheme. Second, there is an urgent need to establish definitions across the industry, or risk losing credibility. Third, Aramco (absolutely the most profitable company in the world, with over a hundred oil and gas fields and almost 300 trillion scf of natural gas reserves) has sent a clear signal that it intends to make and sell ammonia as a decarbonized energy commodity.

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Monash team publishes Ammonia Economy Roadmap

Earlier this month, Doug MacFarlane and his team of researchers at Monash University published A Roadmap to the Ammonia Economy in the journal Joule. The paper charts an evolution of ammonia synthesis “through multiple generations of technology development and scale-up.” It provides a clear assessment of “the increasingly diverse range of applications of ammonia as a fuel that is emerging,” and concludes with perspectives on the “broader scale sustainability of an ammonia economy,” with emphasis on the Nitrogen Cycle. The Roadmap is brilliant in its simple distillation of complex and competing technology developments across decades. It assesses the sustainability and scalability of three generations of ammonia synthesis technologies. Put simply, Gen1 is blue ammonia, Gen2 is green ammonia, and Gen3 is electrochemical ammonia. It also outlines the amount of research and development required before each could be broadly adopted (“commercial readiness”). The paper thus provides vital clarity on the role that each generation of technology could play in the energy transition, and the timing at which it could make its impact.

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Industry consortium announces feasibility study for co-firing ammonia in thermal power plants

In March 2020, IHI Corporation, JERA Co., and Marubeni Corporation announced a feasibility study "to evaluate possible applications for the co-firing of ammonia in thermal power plants." The Japanese companies have contracted with NEDO to deliver detailed technical and economic analysis on the use of ammonia as a direct fuel for power generation. In addition, with support from Woodside Energy in Australia, they "will examine the construction and operation of world-scale ammonia facilities and the optimisation of supply chain costs" to support "large-scale export of hydrogen as ammonia."

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Australian Company Advances Low-Carbon Hydrogen from Methane

Hazer Group, an Australian company with technology in development for the production of low-carbon hydrogen, had a busy 2019. In April the company announced that it had received its first Australian patent. In September, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced the approval of “up to [AUD]$9.41 million in funding to Hazer … for the construction and operation of a groundbreaking hydrogen production facility in Munster, Western Australia.” In December Hazer announced that it was negotiating an agreement with industrial gas distributor BOC related to its Munster project. Last week the company announced that it had secured up to AUD$250,000 in grant funding from the Government of Western Australia for “a feasibility study on the creation of a renewable hydrogen transport hub." in the City of Mandurah.

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Technology Advances for Blue Hydrogen and Blue Ammonia

ANNUAL REVIEW 2019: Blue hydrogen – defined as the version of the element whose production involves carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) – represents an alluring prospect for the energy transition.  The primary “blue” feedstocks, natural gas and coal, currently set the low-cost benchmarks for storable energy commodities.  With the addition of CCS, they are expected to set the low-cost benchmarks for low-carbon storable energy commodities.  Blue ammonia is very much included in this frame of reference since CCS could be applied to the CO2 waste stream from the Haber-Bosch process.  But neither blue hydrogen nor blue ammonia are sure things; a variety of technical, financial, regulatory, and social issues could stand in the way of their widespread adoption. But work on new technologies that have the potential to ease the way for blue products has come increasingly into view over the last twelve months.