Ammonia and Hydrogen

Immersed in the world of hydrogen and offshore wind, I’ve been struck by how quickly both sectors have grown. One of the technologies or enablers, which may help take them both to the next level may lie rather bizarrely in the form of ammonia.

Ammonia is an important element of the nitrogen fertiliser industry and can be used as a storage mechanism. Some are saying that ammonia may be a missing link in making decarbonisation happen. In the last couple of years, I’ve been involved with a number of projects involving ammonia ranging from advising supply chain entrants to integrated major renewable energy proposals. In the short run ammonia may be well suited for decarbonising sometimes remote islands particularly where its use as a liquid carrier for hydrogen can be integrated into a wind farm scheme, green-ammonia-plant-proposed-for-orkney

Paradoxically ammonia is a better carrier of hydrogen than hydrogen itself as its properties make transportation and storage straightforward. In some ways it makes more sense to transport hydrogen as ammonia, and then back to hydrogen.

Ammonia could be particularly useful for a number of key enablers listed in the European hydrogen strategy including the shipping sector which is looking to reduce its emissions by 95% by 2035. Indeed, with limited modifications and technology improvements, ammonia could be directly used in combustion engines of deep-sea vessels; the Lloyd’s shipping register ‘2030. How do we get there’ acknowledges this.

The ammonia molecule is probably one of the best alternatives to mid to long-term storage of electricity; as a chemical element as it converts electron into molecules that can then be used as a buffering of renewables electricity system.

Ammonia is already well known in the agriculture and chemical industries and can aid their route to net zero by 2050. Both sectors are seeking to couple to Europe’s future renewables aspirations – see my article through-blue-to-green

I’m tracking ammonia and hydrogen related business developments closely; German companies in particular are leading the charge and even Saudi Arabia, the home of the oil and gas industry is looking towards using ammonia as an export in coming years: Saudi-arabia-to-export-renewable-energy-using-green-ammonia. We can expect more announcements in the future as this nascent industry gathers pace on a global basis.

If you would like to keep up to date with developments from this burgeoning industry join the Ammonia and Hydrogen
professional group here