Green Ammonia at Oil and Gas Scale

Green Ammonia demand will grow massively over the coming years as it takes a central role in decarbonization, particularly in hard to abate sectors. In order to meet this demand, the industry must respond with projects at oil and gas scale.  This is the only way to deliver the volumes required to decarbonize and to do it at the prices needed to accelerate the energy transition.  The project concept pioneered by Intercontinental Energy offers a way forward. This presentation will outline Intercontinental Energy’s view of the green ammonia market and summarize the project template used throughout the global portfolio, followed by an…


US House draft bill defines ammonia as low-carbon fuel

In January 2020, the US House of Representatives published draft legislation that explicitly defines ammonia as a "low-carbon fuel." This is a first. The CLEAN Future Act is focused on electricity generation, and aims "to build a clean and prosperous future by addressing the climate crisis, protecting the health and welfare of all Americans, and putting the Nation on the path to a net-zero greenhouse gas economy by 2050." The point isn't that this will become law — that seems unlikely anytime soon — but that a mature understanding of the potential benefits of ammonia energy has finally reached policymakers in the heart of Washington DC.


Tri-State announces clean energy plan, retires coal assets

Yesterday, Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association launched its "transformative" Responsible Energy Plan, which will "dramatically and rapidly advance the wholesale power supply cooperative’s clean energy portfolio." Last week, the utility announced the retirement of its last coal-fired power plants in New Mexico and Colorado. These two announcements provide context for a presentation at the Ammonia Energy Conference in November 2019, entitled Market Integrated Ammonia. Its conclusion — highly relevant for a utility that is closing its coal plants and increasing renewables to 50% by 2024 — is that in a wholesale electricity market with increased volatility, renewable ammonia could be produced at the extremely low cost of $96 per tonne.


Ammonia-to-Hydrogen Seen for Electricity Generation

Approximately 40% of the world’s energy budget is consumed in the generation of electricity.  This is by far the largest use of primary energy across major energy-consuming sectors (transportation, industry, etc.).  What role ammonia will play in the electricity sector is therefore a question of considerable importance for the sustainable energy system of the future.  One concept currently on the table is power-to-ammonia as a means of electricity storage, whereby electricity is used to produce hydrogen and the hydrogen is reacted with nitrogen to produce ammonia.  The other, mirror-image, concept is to use ammonia, or hydrogen derived from ammonia, as a fuel that can be turned into electricity. This “back-end” use case is the focus of recent announcements from Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS).  According to an April 5 story in the Nikkei Sangyo, MHPS plans to put a “hydrogen-dedicated gas turbine . . . into practical use by 2030.”  The company also stated that it has “started developing technology to extract hydrogen from ammonia,” citing ammonia’s ease “to store and transport.”


Green Ammonia Consortium Comes to the Fore in Japan

On December 8, the Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun ran a story about the future of coal-fired electricity generation in Japan.  The story touched on topics ranging from the plumbing in a Chugoku Electric generating station to the Trump administration’s idiosyncratic approach to environmental diplomacy.  And it contained this sentence: “Ammonia can become a ‘savior’ of coal-fired power.” Clearly an explanation is in order.


Power-to-Ammonia: the Economic Viability of Ammonia Energy

In the last 12 months ... The extensive Power-to-Ammonia feasibility study demonstrated that ammonia energy could be economically viable in different business cases. The report was a collaborative effort by large European corporations - power companies, electricity distributors, chemical producers, engineering firms - and it has already resulted in plans for one 440 MW power plant to be converted to carbon-free fuel by 2023.


Ammonia for grid-scale power: Nuon, Gasunie, and Statoil

A new collaboration was announced last week, between Dutch power company Nuon, European natural gas pipeline operator Gasunie, and Norwegian oil major Statoil. The joint venture will look at converting one of the Magnum power plant's three 440 MW gasifiers, with hopes to have it running on hydrogen fuel by 2023. This is the continuation of the Power to Ammonia project and, although ammonia is not expected to be used in this particular stage of the project, converting Magnum to hydrogen fuel represents the "intermediate step" to demonstrate that "where hydrogen could be produced using natural gas by 2023, from the year 2030 it could be possible to produce it with sustainably produced ammonia ... Ammonia then effectively serves as a storage medium for hydrogen, making Magnum a super battery."


Power to Ammonia: the Eemshaven case

The Institute for Sustainable Process Technology recently published a feasibility study, Power to Ammonia, looking at the possibility of producing and using ammonia in the renewable power sector. This project is based in The Netherlands and is led by a powerful industrial consortium. I wrote about the feasibility study last month, but it deserves closer attention because it examines three entirely separate business cases for integrating ammonia into a renewable energy economy, centered on three site-specific participants in the study: Nuon at Eemshaven, Stedin at Goeree-Overflakkee, and OCI Nitrogen at Geleen. Over the next few years, the group intends to build pilot projects to develop and demonstrate the necessary technologies. Next month, however, these projects will be an important part of the Power-to-Ammonia Conference, in Rotterdam on May 18-19. This article is the first in a series of three that aims to introduce each business case.


The Hydrogen Consensus

Let’s say there is such a thing as the “hydrogen consensus.” Most fundamentally, the consensus holds that hydrogen will be at the center of the sustainable energy economy of the future. By definition, hydrogen from fossil fuels will be off the table. Hydrogen from biomass will be on the table but the amount that can be derived sustainably will be limited by finite resources like land and water. This will leave a yawning gap (in the U.S., 60-70% of total energy consumption) that will be filled with the major renewables -- wind, solar, and geothermal -- and nuclear energy. This may be as far as the consensus goes today, but more detail is now emerging on the global system of production and use that could animate a hydrogen economy.