Industry Trend Creating a Revolutionary Impact with Green Ammonia

From Ahlam Rais*

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Green ammonia is gradually becoming popular within the industry due to its outstanding benefits such as the production of zero-carbon fertilizers and fuel. It is also an excellent energy storage medium and carrier of hydrogen which makes it more attractive to industry players. Many big-ticket projects with a dedicated focus on producing green ammonia have been announced worldwide in recent years and with time it’s only going to increase as more and more industrial firms join the net-zero objective.

Europe is expected to dominate the green ammonia market owing to the numerous upcoming green hydrogen projects in the region, followed by the Asia Pacific region.
Europe is expected to dominate the green ammonia market owing to the numerous upcoming green hydrogen projects in the region, followed by the Asia Pacific region.
(Source: Freepik)

Today, most of the ammonia is produced from fossil fuels through the Haber-Bosch process for fertilizer production but more recently, the concept of green ammonia has been trending. So, what is this all about? Green ammonia is produced when H2 is derived from water electrolysis which is powered by renewable energy. Also, when burned it does not produce CO2 emissions instead it turns back into nitrogen and water, thus making it a powerful tool to combat the global emissions problem. Green NH3 also acts as an excellent energy storage medium and hydrogen carrier as it is easy to store and transport. It can be used as a clean fuel source for generating electricity, powering ships in the form of marine fuels as well as for fertilizer production.

Market Scenario

Looking at the overall scenario, the global green ammonia market size is projected to grow from 17 million dollars in 2021 to 5,415 million dollars by 2030, at a CAGR of 90.2 % during the forecast period of 2021 to 2030, according to research firm Markets and Markets. The main growth driver for the rise of this market is the incorporation of green and energy-efficient technologies across the globe in the background of climate change concerns. In terms of geography, Europe is expected to dominate the market owing to the numerous upcoming green hydrogen projects in the region, followed by the Asia Pacific region.

Typical gross energy consumption for ammonia synthesis from various feedstocks, based on modern technology.
Typical gross energy consumption for ammonia synthesis from various feedstocks, based on modern technology.
(Source: Irena, AEA, © IRENA 2022)

Making news: Giant Ammonia Plants from Around the World

The Asian Renewable Energy Hub in Australia

Capacity: 10 million tons of green ammonia annually

Europe may be the leading region for producing green ammonia at scale but there are many big-league projects outside the region making headlines. For instance, the Asian Renewable Energy Hub in Australia is scheduled to produce up to 10 million tons of green ammonia annually from approximately 1.8 million tons of green hydrogen per year. With 26 GW of upstream wind and solar, the project is expected to be built at a total capital cost of 36 billion dollars by a consortium of five companies including BP, Inter Continental Energy, Vestas, Macquarie and CWP Energy Asia. It is claimed to be one of the largest energy projects across the globe.

Saudi Arabia’s Neom

Capacity: 1.2 million tons annually

One of the first world-scale green ammonia plants was announced by the US-based firm Air Products, the Middle-East company Acwa Power and the futuristic city of Neom which aims at developing a new model for sustainable living. Located in Saudi Arabia, the 5-billion-dollar green hydrogen-based ammonia production unit is expected to produce 650 tons per day of hydrogen by electrolysis and then produce 1.2 million tons of green ammonia annually which will be exported to global markets and then be dissociated to produce green hydrogen for the transportation market. Thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers has been selected by Air Products to install an electrolysis plant of over 2 GW for the plant. Scheduled to be complete by 2025, the project aims to eliminate over three million tons of CO2 emissions every year.

Comparison of renewable ammonia with other fuels based on the price per unit of energy.
Comparison of renewable ammonia with other fuels based on the price per unit of energy.
(Source: Irena, AEA, © IRENA 2022; Low-carbon fossil ammonia from Haldor Topsøe et al. (2020). Fossil fuel values are based on average values (2010-2020); see IRENA and Methanol Institute (2021). Methanol cost values are based on IRENA and Methanol Institute (2021). Bio-ethanol and bio-methane estimates are based on IRENA (n.d.)

Green Ammonia Hub in Oman

Capacity: 1.2 million tons of green ammonia annually

Recently, in the Gulf region, the petite country of Oman has also announced its big ambitions to contribute to the global decarbonization cause. Matching with the Kingdom’s Neom project target, the country is all set to produce up to 1.2 million tons of green ammonia annually. Led by the renewable energy firm Scatec and India’s Acme Group, the large-scale green ammonia project will be built under a 50:50 joint venture in the Duqm Special Economic Zone. After the completion of the first phase, the project will produce 100,000 tons of green ammonia every year with 300 MW of electrolyzer capacity and powered by 500 MW of solar. Off-takers are also being considered for the project in order to finance the mammoth project.

Norway’s Green Ammonia Project

Capacity: 20,500 tons of green ammonia annually

In Europe, the chemical company Yara International is also in the process of developing a large-scale green ammonia project in Norway. Equipped with a 24 MW electrolysis plant at the firm’s existing fertilizer factory at Herøya, the firm intends to partially replace the hydrocarbon-based hydrogen production in Yara’s plant with the proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology. Thus, producing an annual capacity of around 10,000 kg/day of clean hydrogen and ultimately produce 20,500 tons of green ammonia per year which can be converted to between 60,000 and 80,000 tons of green fertilizer and also be supplied as fuel for ships. The project has secured a funding of 31-million-dollars and will reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 41,000 tons per year. The first batch of green ammonia products will be delivered to the market by 2023.

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On a Concluding Note…

Green ammonia is the need of the hour as industries look to decarbonize their processes and plants in line with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change which aims to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit an increase in global temperature. Therefore, appealing incentives such as government grants, loans and easy investments should be encouraged by the head of states to develop more of such projects. After all, the time to act is now!

* The author is a freelance editor at PROCESS Worldwide. Contact: ahlam.rais@vogel.com

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