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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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Green ammonia plant proposed for Orkney

Eneus Energy recently announced that it intends to build a green ammonia plant in Orkney, Scotland. Eneus describes itself as a “project developer and technology integrator for green ammonia,” and this announcement marks the first public disclosure of a site from its “portfolio” of projects under development. Orkney has been a net energy exporter since 2013, with wind, tidal, and wave energy generation far exceeding local demand; the islands have also been producing green hydrogen for some years. If this latest project moves ahead, the 11 ton per day green ammonia plant would be powered by two new wind turbines, each of 4.2 MW capacity, expanding the existing Hammars Hill wind farm and providing the island with a scalable solution for renewable energy storage and distribution that does not require grid transmission.

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Project GERI: BP’s green ammonia feasibility study

This week, ARENA announced funding for the Geraldton Export-Scale Renewable Investment (GERI) Feasibility Study, led by BP Australia. While this project begins small, with a pilot-scale 20,000 ton per year green ammonia plant selling into domestic markets, it could lead to a 1,000,000 ton per year (1.5 GW capacity), export-oriented green ammonia plant.

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A 100% Solution to Climate Change: Why is Ammonia Necessary?

It’s easy for people working on a particular technology or product to get overly focused on its wonderful promise. Sometimes we forget to consider whether or how our favorite idea fits into the larger issue. Of course, nearly everyone reading this piece in Ammonia Energy will be heartily into the idea of green ammonia as an energy carrier in a zero-emissions world. But let’s keep things in context – is green ammonia one good idea, one possibility, or is it an absolute requirement of a full solution to climate change? I looked at this question, not only for ammonia but for every category of technology, in the research and analysis project that became The 100% Solution, a recently-published book. It lays out five “pillars” that constitute the physical minimum steps needed to solve climate change.

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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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Green Financing Sighted in Australia’s Ammonia Industry

Last month the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) announced that it has “signed an AUD $400 million [USD $256 million] three-year bilateral sustainability-linked loan” with Australian conglomerate Wesfarmers. This represents at least the second occasion on which an ammonia producer has linked its cost of capital to progress in meeting sustainability goals. In July 2019, Yara announced that it had signed a USD $1.1 billion revolving credit facility with a group of 13 lenders whose margin “will be adjusted based on Yara’s progress to meet its carbon intensity target by 2025.”

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Green ammonia plants win financing in Australia and New Zealand

In recent weeks, governments in Australia and New Zealand have announced major financial awards to accelerate development of local green ammonia plants. In Australia, ARENA awarded AU $995,000 (US $0.6 million) to Yara and ENGIE for their solar ammonia pilot at Yara Pilbara. In New Zealand, the Provincial Growth Fund gave NZ $19.9 million (US $11.3 million) to Ballance-Agri Nutrients and Hiringa Energy for their wind-fed ammonia plant at Kapuni. Both projects will demonstrate that an existing fossil ammonia plant can be decarbonized in increments. Renewable hydrogen can be introduced in small amounts, displacing only a fraction of the plant's natural gas consumption but demonstrating and de-risking the technologies. Then, the renewable energy farms and electrolyzers can be scaled-up in stages, eventually replacing all the natural gas requirements and completing the conversion of a fossil asset to a renewable asset.

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South Australia Planning Hydrogen Export Strategy

The state of South Australia earlier this month issued a tender for professional services under the title “Hydrogen Export Study, Modelling Tool and Prospectus.” The tender is a further step in the state’s campaign to become a major exporter of renewable energy in the form of green and/or blue hydrogen. The results of the study are expected to “inform key considerations such as locations for hydrogen production and export, volume of supply potential, the interdependencies of hydrogen supply chain infrastructure, and the landed cost of clean hydrogen exported from South Australia.”