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The Ammonia Wrap: world’s largest ammonia manufacturing complex begins decarbonising, and a welcome boost for EU fertiliser producers

Welcome to the Ammonia Wrap: a summary of all the latest announcements, news items and publications about ammonia energy. This week: the world's largest ammonia manufacturing complex begins decarbonising, a call for green hydrogen projects in Chile, new maritime decarbonisation forecast from MAN ES, decarbonised shipping at the Biden climate summit and Fertilizers Europe welcomes the new Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism.

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The Ammonia Wrap: Haldor Topsøe and Aquamarine to deploy solid oxide electrolysis, green ammonia to carry hydrogen for South Korean steel, and Namibia’s national green ammonia strategy

Welcome to the Ammonia Wrap: a summary of all the latest announcements, news items and publications about ammonia energy. This week: green ammonia from Haldor Topsøe and Aquamarine, "Transhydrogen Alliance", Origin Energy signs deal with Korean steel maker POSCO, Japanese electric utilities move towards ammonia, new funding for CF Industries low-carbon fertiliser in the UK, Japanese partners to study Indonesian blue ammonia output and Namibia's national hydrogen & ammonia strategy.

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The Ammonia Transition: panel wrap-up from the Ammonia Energy Conference

What key challenges lie ahead as ammonia producers embark on the transition to low and zero-carbon ammonia? What are the big producers already doing to smooth and later accelerate this transition? On November 19, 2020, the Ammonia Energy Association (AEA) hosted a panel discussion moderated by Steve Crolius from Carbon Neutral Consulting, as well as panel members Sammy van den Broeck from Yara, Ashraf Malik from CF Industries, and Trevor Williams from Nutrien as part of the recent Ammonia Energy Conference.

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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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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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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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Trammo-Proton Ventures Tie-Up May Be Good News for Developers

Last month Trammo and Proton Ventures signed an agreement to cooperate on green ammonia projects. At face value, this is simply a case of two companies from different corners of the ammonia ecosystem coming together to leverage their complementary competencies. But a careful look at the tie-up reveals intriguing possibilities for companies looking to develop green ammonia production capacity.

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United Nations Sparks Green Hydrogen Initiative

Last month UN Climate Change announced an initiative whose goal is to scale up green hydrogen production significantly over the next six years. “The new ‘Green Hydrogen Catapult’ initiative will see green hydrogen industry leaders, including ACWA Power, CWP Renewables, Envision, Iberdrola, Ørsted, Snam, and Yara, target the deployment of 25 gigawatts through 2026 of renewables-based hydrogen production, with a view to halve the current cost of hydrogen to below US$2 per kilogram.”

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Full electrification: Yara plans 500,000 tons of green ammonia in Norway by 2026

Green ammonia projects continue to be announced at dizzying speed and scale. A few weeks ago, Origin Energy disclosed its feasibility study to develop 500 MW (hydro) / 420,000 tons per year of green ammonia in Tasmania, with first production targeted for mid-2020s. This week, a consortium led by Haldor Topsoe and Vestas announced 10 MW (wind+solar) / 5,000 tons of green ammonia in Denmark, which could be operational in 2022, making it the first green ammonia plant at this scale. Also this week, Yara made a significant corporate announcement, detailing a “transformation of its commercial business models, sales channels and offerings,” with the full decarbonization of its Porsgrunn plant at the heart of its strategy to use green ammonia “to enable the hydrogen economy.”