RMP is 501(c)3 non-profit organization registered in Michigan. We are committed to protecting fresh water resources by advocating for: sustainable energy production, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, remediating environmental pollution & rethinking waste management.
After fighting for and securing Plug Power’s commitment to build their new ‘gigafactory’ for hydrogen fuel cell manufacturing in Rochester last month, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to support the newly proposed plan by New York-based Plug Power to create the first U.S.-wide network of green hydrogen production facilities. Plug Power plans on starting with the construction of a $290 million production facility at the Western New York STAMP site in Genesee county between Rochester and Buffalo. Schumer said DOE’s engagement will be a win-win in opening the door to additional federal resources to make Plug Power’s plans a reality while providing DOE with a first-ever national model for the creation of a domestic green hydrogen energy production supply chain. Schumer said with DOE support, the new 60+ job green hydrogen production facility eyed at STAMP could help lead the nation in producing carbon-free green power to run hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vehicles and equipment all while creating new green jobs.
“My message to the DOE is that with its support, New York’s own Plug Power can lead the charge in dramatically shifting the nation towards clean energy starting with the construction of its first green hydrogen production facility at the STAMP campus in Western New York,” said Senator Schumer. “The facility would create over 60 new good-paying green-energy jobs, boost the Western New York economy, and serve as a jumping-off point to create the nation’s first U.S.-wide network of green hydrogen production facilities to produce carbon-free fuel-cell power. With DOE support, this new green hydrogen fuel production facility in the heart of Western New York between Rochester and Buffalo can be a national model in efforts to achieve the Biden administration’s drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating and 10 million clean energy jobs.”
In his letter to DOE today, Schumer invited DOE officials to join him in meeting with Plug Power to discuss how DOE support, technical assistance, and resources can help supercharge Plug Power to new heights by making its plans to build its hydrogen fuel production facility in Genesee County a reality. Additionally, the senator explained that the expansion is part of Plug Power’s planned green hydrogen network to develop vertically integrated hydrogen infrastructure across the U.S. positioning the New York-based company to lead the charge in dramatically reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Plug Power’s new production facility at STAMP would produce 40 tons-per-day of green hydrogen to supply fuel-cell-powered equipment and vehicles such as freight transportation and logistics handling equipment – some powered by fuel cells that will be manufactured at the upcoming Plug Power Gigafactory slated to open in Rochester this summer. The facility would become the first nationally recognized green hydrogen production center and the first of its kind in the Northeast United States.
Plug Power, founded in 1997 and headquartered in Latham, NY, currently employs more than 400 workers in New York to innovate, manufacture and assemble hydrogen fuel cells including about 300 workers in the Capital Region at its headquarters and Capital Region manufacturing sites in Latham and Clifton Park, and about 70 workers at its Rochester, NY manufacturing site. In 2020, Schumer successfully fought for Plug Power to build their new ‘gigafactory’ in Rochester, which will manufacture hydrogen electrolyzers, used for the production of hydrogen fuel, and hydrogen PEM fuel cells used to produce electricity to power equipment. Slated to open in the middle of next year, the ‘gigafactory’ will add another 375 employees to Plug Power’s New York workforce.
Senator Schumer’s letter to the Department of Energy appears below:
Dear Acting Secretary,
I am writing to seek the Department of Energy’s (DOE) assistance in the newly proposed plan by New York-based Plug Power to create the nation’s first U.S.-wide network of green hydrogen production facilities, starting with the construction of a $264 million production facility at the Western New York STAMP site in Genesee county between Rochester and Buffalo. With a soon-to-be nearly 975 member New York workforce and a history of reliability and strong investment in the U.S. hydrogen economy, Plug Power is perfectly positioned to meaningfully contribute towards to Biden Administration’s goals of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating 10 million clean energy jobs.
Plug Power is striving to build five new green hydrogen fuel production facilities across the U.S., including a proposed $290 million production facility at the Western New York Science and Technology Advance Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP) that will produce 40 tons-per-day of green hydrogen to supply the fuel-cells in advanced freight transportation vehicles and logistics handling equipment. Support and technical assistance from DOE now would create a win-win in both opening the door to additional federal resources to make Plug Power’s plans a reality while providing DOE with a first-ever national model for the creation of a domestic green hydrogen energy production supply chain. This new 60+ job green hydrogen production facility eyed at STAMP could help lead the nation in producing carbon-free green power to run hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vehicles and equipment all while creating new green jobs.
Plug Power is focused on serving the zero-emissions material handling, transportation, and industrial sectors with low-cost green hydrogen fuel that is generated using 100% renewable, zero carbon energy. This project aims to strengthen our country’s economic, environmental, and national security by utilizing domestic energy resources, including low-cost renewable energy from solar photovoltaic, wind, and hydro-electric generation facilities to produce green hydrogen. It will decrease the need for energy imports while creating industry and employment growth opportunities across a variety of markets.
Plug Power, founded in 1997 and headquartered in Latham, NY, employs over 1,217 across the world, including over 600 employees in New York with another 375 expected to be added in the coming years at the company’s new gigafactory slated to open in Rochester, NY this summer. The company is focused on building the hydrogen economy as the leading provider of comprehensive hydrogen fuel cell turnkey solutions. Plug Power created the first commercially viable market for hydrogen fuel cell technology, deploying approximately 40,000 fuel cell systems, more than any other company in the world.
I would welcome the opportunity to host DOE officials for a meeting with Plug Power to discuss how DOE can provide technical assistance, support, and resource access to this cutting-edge company to help drive the construction of this new WNY green hydrogen production facility, a strong step towards a nationwide green hydrogen supply chain.
Less than two months ago, RMP published our quarterly hydrogen infrastructure report saying that a 20MW PEM electrolyzer in Bécancour, Quebec, would become the world’s largest PEM electrolyzer in operation. Less than 1 week after that, Saudi Arabia announced plans to build a green hydrogen plant producing up to 650 tons per day. Now, Plug Power, an New York based company, has plans to build a green hydrogen plant just east of Buffalo New York that will produce 45 tons per day of green hydrogen. Plug Power’s new plant will be less than 450 miles from the Air Liquide’s Bécancour plant.
Plug Power is growing its green hydrogen footprint in New York with the construction of this new state-of-the-art green hydrogen production facility and electric substation in the New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP).
As North America’s largest green hydrogen production facility, the plant will produce 45 metric tons of green liquid hydrogen daily servicing the Northeast region. The plant will use 120 MW of Plug’s state-of-the-art PEM electrolyzers to make the hydrogen using clean NY hydropower. The New York plant joins our existing Tennessee plant in a network that aims to supply 500 tons per day of green hydrogen by 2025, 1,000 tons per day globally by 2028 and that when fully built will offer our transportation fuel customers pricing competitive to diesel. This $290 million investment in green hydrogen production leads the way to decarbonizing freight-transportation and logistics and supports the Empire State’s path to achieving carbon-neutrality by 2050. The project includes a 450 MW electrical substation that will service the entire STAMP site.
“Plug Power’s future rightfully revolves around building the green hydrogen economy,” said Andy Marsh, CEO for Plug Power. “We are grateful that our home state of New York is helping lead the way on climate and clean energy initiatives. And, that Plug Power’s green hydrogen solutions can make such a positive impact on the environmental and economic climates in the state. We thank our elected officials and partners for their leadership.”
Plug Power’s ability to develop its new green hydrogen fuel production facility in New York is the result of a comprehensive state and local incentive package from the New York Power Authority, Empire State Development and Genesee County.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said, “Today we usher in a winning combination of firsts: Plug Power is creating its first ever green hydrogen production facility and we have secured the first tenant at the WNY STAMP site. This facility will create over 60 new good-paying green-energy jobs, boost the Western New York economy, and serve as a jumping-off point to create the nation’s first U.S.-wide network of green hydrogen production facilities to produce carbon-free fuel cell power. After securing its new over 375 job gigafactory in Rochester last month, I applaud Plug Power, a proud Upstate NY-based business with deep roots and hundreds of NYS workers, for doubling down and selecting STAMP as the home of this new production facility. I will continue to advocate with the U.S. Department of Energy to secure federal support to help bring this development to full fruition.”
“Plug Power has quickly become a leader in alternative energy technology and I am thrilled they are further expanding their footprint here in New York,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “During my time as NYS Assembly Majority Leader I was proud to help bring the STAMP Business Park from concept to reality, and this is exactly the type of advanced manufacturing investment and growth we always knew the Park would facilitate. I’m grateful to Plug Power for their commitment to creating jobs, strengthening our economy, and building a cleaner, more sustainable future.”
“New York State is committed to establishing itself as the leader in the national effort toward a more renewable future focused on green energy excellence, and we’re showing that protecting the economy and encouraging economic growth aren’t mutually exclusive,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are incredibly proud to partner with Plug Power once again and applaud the company’s continued investment in the Finger Lakes region and to its commitment to creating top-quality green jobs as we work to foster new investment and job growth during a difficult economic time for many New Yorkers.”
Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “Plug Power’s forward-thinking innovation and ongoing commitment to New York State are helping to advance Governor Cuomo’s clean energy vision. This hydrogen fuel manufacturing facility using local hydro power at the STAMP mega-site will strengthen New York’s green economy by creating top quality, high-tech manufacturing jobs.”
Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA president and CEO, said, “The state’s clean energy economy is growing rapidly under the Governor’s leadership and Plug Power is seizing the plentiful opportunities for green energy companies to expand and flourish in New York. Leveraging NYPA’s carbon-free hydropower from the Niagara Power Project to attract a firm dedicated to the development of green hydrogen for fuel cell applications is an example of how we should address the climate crisis.”
STAMP is a 1,250-acre mega site located at the center of upstate New York’s largest population, research, and workforce training hubs. Connected with New York’s high-tech corridor by the New York State Thruway, STAMP has completed all site-level design and engineering, and all-site level environmental and zoning approvals to house projects including semiconductor manufacturing, renewables manufacturing, biopharma manufacturing, and other high-capacity industries. The mega site is strategically located in NYPA’s low-cost hydropower zone and will be serviced by high-capacity, 100% renewable, reliable and local power sources. STAMP has been validated as a regional priority project by the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and has been supported by local, regional, and state governments, as well as business, university, and utility partners.
Greater Rochester Enterprise President and CEO Matt Hurlbutt said, “Plug Power plans to establish a hydrogen generation facility at the STAMP mega-site in Genesee County because of its unique infrastructure, including low-cost, clean hydropower. The power generated at this new facility will also support Plug Power’s Giga factory in Rochester, NY.”
Faurecia, one of the world’s leading automotive technology companies, announced today that it has acquired a majority of CLD, one of China’s largest high-pressure tank manufacturers. The transaction will be completed once regulatory approvals are obtained in China.
Faurecia and CLD will develop and manufacture homologated type III and IV hydrogen storage tanks for the Chinese market. Headquartered in ShenYang, CLD has around 200 employees and 2 plants in Liaoning with a capacity of 30,000 tanks per year. The company is already an established and recognized player providing homologated hydrogen tanks to leading Asian commercial and light vehicle automakers.
Mathias Miedreich, Faurecia Clean Mobility EVP said. “CLD is the right partner for Faurecia to accelerate hydrogen mobility in China. By 2030, China will represent a market of at least one million fuel cell vehicles. Through our complementary technologies and industrial expertise, we will further develop CLD’s leadership.”
“We are very pleased to welcome Faurecia, one of the global leading technology companies, through its investment in CLD equity. We believe that by joining the strengths of both parties, Faurecia_CLD will become one of the major fuel cell tank manufacturers in China.” added Mrs Jiang Jiang, Chairman of CLD.
As hydrogen mobility rapidly gains momentum, the Group is now uniquely positioned to develop hydrogen storage systems and distribution services and as well as fuel cell systems (through Symbio, a joint venture with Michelin). This scope represents 75% of the full system value chain. By 2030, Faurecia forecasts the annual hydrogen vehicle production to be two and half million vehicles. Faurecia is committed to continue to invest significantly with the ambition to become a world leader in hydrogen mobility.
Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is initiating an ambitious innovation effort to create American jobs while tackling the climate crisis, which includes the launch of a new research working group, an outline of the Administration’s innovation agenda, and a new $100 million funding opportunity from the U.S. Department of Energy to support transformational low-carbon energy technologies. The announcements kickstart the Administration’s undertaking to spur the creation of new jobs, technology, and tools that empower the United States to innovate and lead the world in addressing the climate crisis.
President Biden is fulfilling his promise to accelerate R&D investments, creating a new Climate Innovation Working Group as part of the National Climate Task Force to advance his commitment to launching an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Climate (ARPA-C). The working group will help coordinate and strengthen federal government-wide efforts to foster affordable, game-changing technologies that can help America achieve the President’s goal of net zero economy-wide emissions by 2050 and can protect the American people from the impacts of droughts and flooding, bigger wildfires, and stronger hurricanes. The working group will be co-chaired by the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy, Office of Science of Technology and Policy, and Office of Management and Budget.
“We are tapping into the imagination, talent, and grit of America’s innovators, scientists, and workers to spearhead a national effort that empowers the United States to lead the world in tackling the climate crisis,” said Gina McCarthy, President Biden’s National Climate Advisor. “At the same time, we are positioning America to create good-paying, union jobs in a just and equitable way in communities across the nation that will be at the forefront of new manufacturing for clean energy and new technology, tools, and infrastructure that will help us adapt to a changing climate.”
As the opportunity for American leadership in climate innovation is vast, the Administration is outlining key planks of an agenda the Climate Innovation Working Group will help advance:
zero net carbon buildings at zero net cost, including carbon-neutral construction materials;
energy storage at one-tenth the cost of today’s alternatives;
advanced energy system management tools to plan for and operate a grid powered by zero carbon power plants;
very low-cost zero carbon on-road vehicles and transit systems;
new, sustainable fuels for aircraft and ships, as well as improvements in broader aircraft and ship efficiency and transportation management;
affordable refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pumps made without refrigerants that warm the planet;
carbon-free heat and industrial processes that capture emissions for making steel, concrete, chemicals, and other important industrial products;
carbon-free hydrogen at a lower cost than hydrogen made from polluting alternatives;
innovative soil management, plant biologies, and agricultural techniques to remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it in the ground;
direct air capture systems and retrofits to existing industrial and power plant exhausts to capture carbon dioxide and use it to make alternative products or permanently sequester it deep underground.
As a first example of the widespread innovation effort, the U.S. Department of Energy is announcing $100 million in funding via the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to support transformational low-carbon energy technologies. The ARPA-E announcement invites experts across the country to submit proposals for funding to support early-stage research into potentially disruptive energy technologies, specifically encouraging inter-disciplinary approaches and collaboration across sectors.
“Today we are inviting scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers across America to join us in developing the clean energy technologies we need to tackle the climate crisis and build a new more equitable clean energy economy,” said DOE Chief of Staff Tarak Shah. “The Department of Energy is committed to empowering innovators to think boldly and create the cutting-edge technologies that will usher in our clean energy future and create millions of good-paying jobs.”
In addition to supporting technologies that are near commercialization, the Climate Innovation Working Group will also emphasize research to bolster and build critical clean energy supply chains in the United States and strengthen American manufacturing. As it coordinates climate innovation across the federal government, it will focus on programs at land-grant universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and other minority-serving institutions.
“Today is an important day for tackling the climate crisis through cutting-edge science, technology, and innovation. The Office of Science and Technology Policy is ready to help turbocharge climate-related innovation, and we look forward to engaging with scientists, engineers, students, and innovators all across America to build a future in which not only jobs and economic benefits but also opportunities to participate in climate innovation are shared equitably by all Americans,” said Kei Koizumi, Acting Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“I’m pleased that the committee passed this bill so early,” said Hawkins, who serves the 12th Legislative District. “The bill received a positive response during its public hearing, and I’m hopeful it will continue moving forward this session. The bill is off to a terrific start but still has a ways to go in the weeks ahead.”
Senate Bill 5000, which has bipartisan support and nearly 30 co-sponsors, has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee for further consideration.
Back in 2019, the Legislature approved Hawkins-sponsored Senate Bill 5588, which authorizes public utility districts to produce and sell “renewable hydrogen.”
“The people of North Central Washington have been leaders in clean energy for decades and new state efforts to promote renewable hydrogen and zero-emissions vehicles will help us continue our innovative work,” said Hawkins. He added, “North Central Washington is in a real position to lead the state and perhaps the entire United States on renewable hydrogen use in transportation, from production, distribution, vehicles, buses, short haul agriculture, and other opportunities locally. It’s pretty exciting when you think big about it. Our region has a long and proud history of thinking big about clean energy.”
Hydrogen can be created from a process that separates the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in water. The Douglas County Public Utility District in Hawkins’ district plans to utilize its surplus hydropower to do just that, creating renewable hydrogen from excess renewable hydropower and possibly also building hydrogen fueling stations.
SB 5000 aims to extend a similar exemption on vehicle sales tax that purchasers of traditional electric vehicles receive. With the first hydrogen-fueling stations in Washington expected to be operational by 2022, the bill would allow a total of 650 vehicles to receive a 50-percent sales tax exemption in fiscal years 2023 through 2029.
Even though hydrogen vehicles are newer to the market and slightly more expensive due to having not been in mass production nationwide, they have shown tremendous promise given how quickly they refuel and the limited infrastructure required to get the fuel to the station.
Hawkins said his bill would help establish important parity between fuel-cell electric vehicles and traditional plug-in electrics.
“In our efforts to promote carbon-free vehicles, our state policies should be ‘technologically neutral’ so that we can give ourselves varied opportunities to reduce emissions and not unintentionally bias ourselves in the process,” Hawkins said. “Similar to diesel and gas, maybe there will always be multiple fuel sources for next-generation cars or maybe someday hydrogen vehicles will be the preferred choice.”
What the bill’s supporters are saying:
“We are thankful for Senator Hawkins’ leadership for renewable hydrogen. His support has created an opportunity for us to increase efficiencies at our Wells Hydroelectric Project and increase value for our customers.” – Molly Simpson, Douglas County PUD Commission President
“The Renewable Hydrogen Alliance is proud to support the expansion of clean vehicle incentives to fuel cell electric cars just as Washington begins creating clean hydrogen from the state’s ample supply of renewable electricity.” – Ken Dragoon, Executive Director of the Renewable Hydrogen Alliance
“Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will be critical to the future of a decarbonized transportation sector. This bill is a meaningful step to ensuring the state incentivizes a portfolio approach to electrifying Washington’s transportation sector. WSHA could not be more pleased to support Senator Hawkins in this effort.” – Roxana Bekemohammadi, Executive Director of the Western States Hydrogen Alliance
“Senator Hawkins’ pilot incentive program is an important first step to help accelerate the adoption of hydrogen, fuel cell and electrification accessibility in Washington state. Paving the way for emissions-free technologies will further generate awareness, interest and acceptance in communities seeking cleaner options.” – Doug Murtha, Group Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Planning at Toyota Motor North America
“As we work to reduce transportation emissions in Washington state, incentivizing clean energy through an increased use of hydrogen could play a significant role toward accomplishing our climate goals. I look forward to working across the aisle with Senator Hawkins on this policy, and to continue protecting our state’s incredible natural environment.” – Sen. Liz Lovelett, 40th District, D-Anacortes, Lead Co-Sponsor
Here are links to news stories or other helpful information about this bill:
The Sunnyvale True Zero station, located in Silicon Valley, was developed by FirstElement Fuel. It will be open 24 hours a day and is located at 1296 Sunnyvale Saratoga Road, Sunnyvale, CA 94087. The price of hydrogen is $13.08 per kilogram.
The Sunnyvale hydrogen station capacity is 1,600 kilograms and has four fueling positions with a total of five nozzles (four H70 nozzles and one H35 nozzle). It is one of the first hydrogen stations in California serving passenger cars to have four fueling positions and capacity up to six times the size of earlier hydrogen stations. The next-largest stations for passenger cars are similar include the True Zero station in Fountain Valley that opened in July and the True Zero station in Oakland, with more than 800 kilograms. It opened in late 2019.
This station will be able to fuel three cars simultaneously, increasing the number of vehicles served in a shorter time. This and future stations like it will help meet the needs of the growing fuel cell passenger car market in Silicon Valley and the greater Bay areas and across California.
RMP’s map opens on retail open & retail planned hydrogen refueling stations when it first loads. Many of the stations planned on the east coast of the USA (i.e. icons colored yellow) are fully operational but not yet “open to the public”. You can turn on/off marker groupings by using the panel on the left to view: bus stations, truck stations, research facilities, universities, production locations, liquefaction locations, and transfill locations. Check it out. Always free to use w/ no advertisements or user tracking. Just light, simple, homegrown, and fast code for a fast responsive map with deep database & AJAX functionality.
Welcome new readers of RMP’s quarterly H2 infrastructure report. Each quarter we look back on the major stories related to hydrogen infrastructure advancements and we compare the current AFDC database to the AFDC database in the prior quarter to see what has changed. The AFDC database is updated by the US Dept of Energy & can be found by clicking here. Canada added a new data repository for hydrogen stations in Q2-2020. The Canadian website is administered by Natural Resources Canada. RMP will continue to use the US Department of Energy database as our primary data source as we learn more about the Canadian database. All this data as well as data RMP collects by hand goes into RMP’s interactive map of hydrogen infrastructure in the USA & Canada you can see by clicking here. Ok, on with the report…
The main hydrogen infrastructure story this quarter is one of disappointment but also one of promise & hope. The disappointment was related to a lack of liquid hydrogen (LH2) availability because of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. The promise & hope comes from the plethora of forthcoming hydrogen liquefaction projects announced that will diversify the LH2 supply chain for California drivers. Curious minds like yours indeed might ask: How did a hydrogen liquefaction plant losing electricity in New Orleans affect drivers in California? Let’s put on our detective hats and Continue reading “USA & CANADA QUARTERLY H2 INFRASTRUCTURE UPDATE 2020-Q4”
Three new hydrogen refueling stations have come online recently that mark a paradigm change in retail hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the USA:
Shell Oakland with 800kg capacity Oakland, California 9/20/2019
TrueZero Fountain Valley with 1,200kg capacity Fountain Valley, California 7/3/2020
TrueZero Mission Hills with 1,200kg capacity Mission Hills, California 10/26/2020
Sometimes when you want to understand where you are or what just happened, you have to look back to appreciate how you got here. To understand something generationally new, you have to understand its predecessor technology to appreciate the contrast between the way it was and the way it will be going forward. RMP has been writing about some BIG new hydrogen refueling stations that would be coming online soon, and now… they’re here. They’re open now. Now that they’re open & with more BIG stations on the way, it’s starting to set in that we have reached a milestone in retail hydrogen refueling infrastructure. That said, it seems like a good reflection point to look back at retail hydrogen infrastructure development thus far and understand the USA’s history in hydrogen clean energy technology.
Welcome new readers of RMP’s quarterly H2 infrastructure report. Each quarter we look back on the major stories related to hydrogen infrastructure advancements and we compare the current AFDC database to the AFDC database in the prior quarter to see what has changed. The AFDC database is updated by the US Dept of Energy & can be found by clicking here. Canada added a new data repository for hydrogen stations in Q2-2020. The Canadian website is administered by Natural Resources Canada. RMP will continue to use the US Department of Energy database as our primary data source as we learn more about the new Canadian database. All this data (and more) goes into RMP’s interactive map of hydrogen infrastructure in the USA & Canada you can see by clicking here. Ok, on with the report…
Could the future of renewable energy lie in a basic household chemical under your kitchen sink?Ammonia might power your household cleaning and fertilize your plants, but it could become an important zero emission energy carrier for moving clean energy around the world economically. Oil & gas, which make up most of our current energy supply, can easily be shipped & stored, but renewable energy that travels through the power grid as electricity cannot.This prevents renewables from becoming a bigger player in the world market of produced & distributed energy.It’s also why researchers are working to streamline current processes to convert solar & wind energy into liquid ammonia which would allow it to be shipped around the world & stored as easily as petroleum products for those hot evenings & cloudy days when the wind isn’t blowing & the sun isn’t shining.
We need to master our ability to create cheap green hydrogen for essential ammonia production even if we leave the BEV-vs-FCEV passenger car debate completely out of the picture. The conventional manufacture of ammonia (NH3) is a dirty process.But without ammonia, we would not be able to produce food for nearly 60% of the world’s population1.Ammonia is made from nitrogen & hydrogen. Nitrogen molecules are separated from the air we breathe and hydrogen is generally derived from either natural gas or coal in a process which creates greenhouse gasses or about 1.8% of CO2 emissions worldwide2.Once you have the nitrogen & hydrogen segregated, the Haber-Bosch process is employed to make ammonia.
Projects are underway around the world that will change how ammonia is manufactured by using renewable solar & wind energy to create the hydrogen from water instead of steam reformed natural gas.The implications of making “green ammonia” are bigger than just fertilizer too. Liquid ammonia is also an energy carrier with a higher energy density (11.5 MJ/liter) than liquid hydrogen (8.5 MJ/liter)3. Ammonia is easier and much cheaper to store & transport than liquid hydrogen because infrastructure & equipment can be used that already exists (e.g. propane infrastructure).While there are many places around the world working on green ammonia pilot plants (Oxford, United Kingdom – Fukashima, Japan – Iberdola, Spain – & more) RMP thinks Australia is the world leader in the large scale pilot manufacture of green ammonia.Australia has abundant renewable energy resources & potential resources available to boost their economy through the manufacture of green ammonia.
Practical Manufacturing of Green Ammonia & Its Energy Storage Potential
There are a number of reasons why Australia is the primary focus of RMP’s first report on green ammonia.Australia is in the spotlight because of its massive resources and investment in renewable solar & wind energy.Australia currently has 95 large renewable energy infrastructure projects that are in construction (or due to start construction soon).These projects will deliver over $19 billion in capital costs, 11,007 MW of new renewable energy capacity and create 13,567 direct jobs4.Each year terawatt hours of electricity are curtailed5 or go to waste because the electricity cannot be used at the time of generation.It’s a problem that has and will continue get worse as more renewable electricity generation capacity comes online.
Battery storage solutions that only last for 24 hours or as peakers are great and serve very important purposes. Battery storage projects also have great payback as short term energy solutions. However, short burst solutions are part of the problem with massive demand for energy as they only satisfy a fraction of what is needed for base-load power over extended durations. We need solutions like ammonia that will have costs scale down as usage scales up because of solar, wind, & hydrogen abundance. Short term battery solutions become too expensive as they scale larger than the peaker size. Batteries also are not the right solution if we need energy for days, weeks, months, and seasons.It is one of the toughest problems to solve with renewable energy that has its highest output during hours when humans don’t need electricity and vice versa.We need a way to store massive amounts of wasted electrical energy so we can have it back when we need it.As more and more renewable energy comes online, cumulative curtailed electricity numbers will continue to climb without the means to store excess generation.
When in liquid form at ambient temperature, ammonia has an energy density of about 3 kWh/liter and if chilled to negative 35 celsius, ammonia’s energy density approaches 4 kWh/liter6.Australia can use their vast renewable resources to achieve economical manufacture, production, and storage of green ammonia by simply buying electrolyzers that turn water into H2 & O2. Australia can be on their way to making more green ammonia with proven technology that is easy to deploy.While ammonia is an absolute societal necessity for agricultural fertilizer in an established world market, it also has even bigger economic potential as a carrier of energy. Energy is a new market for ammonia that will displace oil & gas market share.
The Yara Pilbara Renewable Ammonia Feasibility Study is for a demonstration-scale renewable hydrogen and renewable ammonia production and export facility on the Burrup Peninsula, Western Australia.Yara’s Burrup Peninsula facility currently produces ammonia by using natural gas as a feedstock for its steam methane reforming process, which produces fossil-fuel based hydrogen. The hydrogen is then used to feed an ammonia synthesis process to produce ammonia. Yara is investigating producing renewable hydrogen to feed its ammonia production process, which will reduce emissions produced by the facility.
In collaboration with global energy company ENGIE, the Yara Pilbara Renewable Ammonia Feasibility Study will investigate the feasibility of producing renewable hydrogen via electrolysis powered by onsite solar PV. Yara’s objective is that for the demonstration plant, up to three per cent of the hydrogen consumed on site will be renewable hydrogen. The blended hydrogen will subsequently be converted to ammonia and sold for further processing into domestic and international markets. The feasibility study will also investigate using seawater for the electrolyzer.
The feasibility study will help manufacture 30,000 tons of green ammonia that Yara currently would make using fossil fuels. The study will be the first step on the path to achieving commercial scale production of renewable hydrogen and ammonia for export7. In the long term, Yara is aiming to produce hydrogen and ammonia entirely through renewable energy. This approach will allow Yara to avoid any major augmentation to the existing plant and therefore minimise the cost and time needed to produce renewable ammonia.
This project has the potential to ‘unlock’ the value of vast areas of vacant Pilbara land by supporting the development of a new industry that captures solar energy for conversion to hydrogen and other valuable products.Because project’s like Yara Pilbara are likely to surpass feasibility expectations similar to most renewable hydrogen projects, its $3.76m price tag is being funded in part by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) with a $995k investment.The Australian government recognizes how making green ammonia for export can literally transform the continent into an economic powerhouse as renewable generation scales up.
Australia’s government and scientific community want to make green ammonia a significant part of their future economic plans.Australia has renewable resource potential to produce so much more energy than Australians alone can consume which means ammonia has significant export potential which can quickly increase sovereign wealth.A challenge associated with using ammonia as a zero carbon energy carrier is “cracking” the ammonia back into its constituent elements nitrogen & hydrogen.In order to make green ammonia more attractive as an export product, the Aussie’s are attacking this challenge with their top scientific researchers.Enter Australia’s CSIRO.
Cracking Green Ammonia
CSIRO is Australia’s national science research agency.The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), says their mission is to shape the future. CSIRO says it does this by using science to solve real issues to unlock a better future for Australia’s community, economy, & planet.You may remember it was about two years ago to the month (8/08/2018) that CSIRO published a blog post about the successful refueling of a Toyota Mirai & Hyundai Nexo hydrogen fuel vehicle with ultra pure hydrogen “cracked” from ammonia using a brand new membrane technology created by CSIRO scientists.The news humbly/quietly signaled a paradigm change in zero carbon energy for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles like busses, trucks, trains, airplanes, and passenger vehicles.Ifyou have abundant renewable energy to produce green ammonia and a method to crack that ammonia back into hydrogen on demand, you literally have a game changer for green energy.
CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall was one of the first to ride in the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo vehicles powered by ultra-high purity hydrogen, produced in Queensland using CSIRO’s membrane technology.The membrane separates ultra-high purity hydrogen from ammonia, while blocking all other gases.It links hydrogen production, distribution and delivery in the form of a modular unit that can be used at, or near, a refueling station.This means that the transportation and storage of hydrogen – currently a complex and relatively expensive process – is simplified, allowing bulk hydrogen to be transported economically and efficiently in the form of liquid ammonia.
“This is a watershed moment for energy, and we look forward to applying CSIRO innovation to enable this exciting renewably-sourced fuel and energy storage medium a smoother path to market,” Dr Marshall said.BOC Sales and Marketing Director Bruce Currie congratulated CSIRO on the successful refueling of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, which proved the effectiveness of CSIRO’s membrane technology from generation, right through to point of use.With this successful demonstration under CSIRO’s belt, the technology will be increased in scale and deployed in several larger-scale demonstrations, in Australia and abroad.CSIRO’s membrane technology will make green ammonia more attractive to foreign consumers who want to import the zero carbon energy carrier into their smog & CO2 belching countries.This is particularly relevant for enormous nearby markets like China, Japan, and South Korea who have committed to hydrogen economies to decarbonize and de-smog their cities.
Worldwide Green Ammonia Distribution Logistics
Green ammonia will be competing with many other forms of energy that are fighting for investment dollars. Ammonia has a couple tricks up its sleeves with regard to affordability & return on investment.One of the key fuels that ammonia will compete with out on the open oceans is Liquified Natural Gas which has a very high volumetric energy content at 6 kWh/liter compared to ammonia’s 3 kWh/liter at ambient temperature or almost 4 kWh/liter if chilled to -35C.RMP created our map of all LNG facilities in the world when Cheniere was granted the USA’s first permit to export LNG in 2011.Green ammonia will have to compete with LNG that has grown significantly since RMP first wrote about Cheniere in August of 2015 just over five years ago.America now has 5 LNG liquefaction facilities permitted for export & built since 2015.These are carefully planned investment decisions on plants that take years to build.Even the F.I.D’s on a new LNG plant can take years because of the risk of investing so much money over such a long horizon.
While LNG liquefaction has received significant investment in the past five years on assets that are expected to deliver for 25 plus year useful lives, LNG is at a severe disadvantage to ammonia for both maritime use & for maritime bunkering.While ammonia has big advantage over all other 100% green energy carriers with energy density, its real secret weapon against grey and potentially “blue” fuels, like LNG, is its ability to use existing infrastructure like that used for LPGs (e.g. propane). Financial investments with the strongest bang for their buck always win. Green ammonia will be a fierce competitor with regard to economic return on investment.
Because ammonia can be liquified at 7.5 bar at ambient temperatures similar to propane & butane, it has an advantage over LNG as a 100% green energy carrier and could potentially hurt LNG investments as shipbuilders might prefer 0% zero emission vessels & cargo.Ammonia easily fits this role of clean energy ambassador to enormous cargo ships with cheaper bunkering costs. Ammonia bunkering costs will be orders of magnitude cheaper than LNG because of the liquefaction trains & cryogenic storage required for LNG.There is great irony here in that for 10 years we have heard that hydrogen suffers from a “chicken or egg” problem but the truth is the chicken or egg problem befalls LNG to a much more significant degree than ammonia which means hydrogen’s chicken or egg problem also could rapidly become yesterday’s story.
For LNG, the dilemma has been that shipowners have been reluctant to make the switch to LNG as bunker fuel in the absence of ports around the world able to supply it. Yet, the development of the required infrastructure is dependent on such demand. As ammonia is already produced and transported in large quantities around the world by ship, bunker supplies could be readily accommodated, though of course it will have to be expanded once the first ammonia powered vessels are realized, says Niels de Vries, a Naval Architect with C-Job Naval Architects in the Netherlands.
“Nowadays the main consumer of ammonia is the fertilizer industry,” he says. “This industry is supplied by ships which carry ammonia in bulk loads of up to 60,000 dwt. The industry’s existing infrastructure could be used to realize bunker locations for ships in the future, and current production offers the possibility of a smooth transition. There are ports available already that could supply the first ships.”
Shipbuilders are/were already ready to make an economic case for using ammonia as low emission fuel by combusting it and scrubbing NOx.But, with ammonia cracking technology like that mentioned by CSIRO that can turn ammonia to hydrogen on demand, you don’t need to combust it because you can use it in a fuel cell which has more than 2x the efficiency of a combustion engine with zero harmful emissions.All of the sudden, the economics you could use to justify ammonia as fuel have just gotten twice as good & your emissions drop to zero.It really bodes well for ammonia as a green energy carrier.Speaking of CSIRO’s technology to crack ammonia into N2 & H2, phys.org just published a recent article August 19, 2020 regarding a new low-cost membrane technology developed by the Korea Institute of Science & Technology (KIST) to decompose ammonia into high purity hydrogen & nitrogen.More evidence top research authorities like CSIRO & KIST are demonstrating scientists around the world are working fast to unlock the potential of green ammonia.You can bet there are some labs in the USA & UK that will be touting some similar breakthroughs soon.
Recent advances in renewable energy technology have set up the new 2020 decade for continued scaling in the manufacture of zero emission ammonia for sustainable energy.Because hydrogen is inexhaustible, abundant, and in every local community, it could mean economies of scale could make hydrogen very cheap as old petroleum infrastructure could be retrofitted for ammonia storage & distribution.Ammonia is already transported by ocean freight by big ships like Vigor’s 508 foot hull Harvest recently built supporting millions of labor hours in America’s pacific northwest Portland area8.The Harvest was built by American workers using over 9,000 tons of American steel & 4,400 tons of equipment.The Harvest has four cargo tanks, each capable of holding 5,500 tons of liquid anhydrous ammonia at very low pressure.This was the first ammonia vessel built in America since 1982! Think about all the jobs & labor hours America could generate to make even more ships like this that transport ammonia safely across our oceans.Speaking of safety, we need to talk about safety & toxicity in more detail.
Ammonia’s risk profile is similar in magnitude to methane or methanol. For ammonia, the main risks are related to health, as ammonia is toxic. Ammonia’s fire risk profile on the other hand is lower. Ammonia can be stored as a liquid either at -34 degrees Celsius at atmospheric pressure (usually applied for large scale applications) or at room temperature at 10 bar (usually applied for small scale applications).RMP’s stated mission as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization is to protect our fresh water resources. Toxic & water are two words that need to always be separate to protect drinking water.How does RMP recommend a toxic substance, ammonia, and reconcile that position with our mission statement of protecting Michigan’s and the world’s fresh water resources?
Reconciling ammonia’s toxicity with RMP’s mission of protecting freshwater
Ammonia is a product necessary for humans to survive.Ammonia is a naturally occurring compound being created in your body’s cells right now as you read this sentence.Ammonia will continue to be manufactured, stored, and transported in the future the same way it is now and has been used in industry for over 100 years.Like all energy carriers & fuels, ammonia is dangerous and must be handled with appropriate safeguards.RMP was founded on protecting fresh water and eliminating the use of fossil fuels.RMP specifically wants to eliminate crude oil from our energy mix first as it causes great harm to our fresh water resources.Crude oil, gasoline, diesel, and other fuel oils contaminate water wherever they are produced, stored, & distributed.Crude oil has environmental remediation costs that drain public budgets & and ruin our environment irreversibly no matter how much we spend to try to clean it up. Famous spills like the Exxon Valdez that happened in April of 1989 are still costing money to clean up today9.That’s just one example of literally thousands of major instances.Right here in our backyards of Michigan, we remember the Enbridge Line 6B pipeline disaster just over ten years ago that RMP wrote about on its 5 year anniversary. Ammonia is different in relation to environmental disasters; it’s not like fossil fuels.While ammonia can cause fish kills on release and can be deadly, its toxicity to the environment is temporary.
As soon as ammonia is released into the environment, it begins neutralizing.Spilled ammonia, while toxic, will quickly dissipate reacting with moisture to form ammonium. Ammonium then quickly binds to negatively charged soil, organic matter, and clays. Ammonium rarely accumulates in soil because bacteria will rapidly convert the ammonium that is not taken up by plant roots into nitrates (nitrification)9.Yes ammonia is toxic & can cause accidents that could turn deadly if they’re not handled safely; this is the same with all fuels.The difference with ammonia is that spill or release events will always be isolated and short term clean ups.When I think of a serious ammonia accident, I’m reminded of when I was young and I would share my scientific theories with my dad.My dad would remind me of La Chatlier’s principle of chemical equilibrium.Ammonia is a good example of something toxic that quickly finds an equilibrium with the environment to form something non-toxic.I’m glad my dad taught me about La Chatlier’s principle because there is going to be FUD surrounding ammonia just like any other fuel we use.RMP knows, no matter what form of energy we use, there will be people who oppose it [viciously].
RMP supports green ammonia as part of the solution of clean renewable energy that is safe for the environment.While dangers exist with ammonia like any other high energy density medium, imagine the flip side: without ammonia nearly 60% of the world’s population would perish from starvation. The possibility of an accident is the risk to pay to avoid certain calamity if there was no ammonia. When the ammonia FUD comes and people say the sky is falling, remember this paragraph. Ammonia has been in use around the world for a century. No one has any reason to panic, but ammonia certainly needs to be handled safely similar to any other fuel we use today.
Ammonia is found throughout the environment in air, water, soil, animals, and plants.
Ammonia does not last very long in the environment. It is rapidly taken up by plants, bacteria, and animals.
Ammonia does not build up in the food chain, but serves as a nutrient for plants and bacteria.
Again, the points listed above are not to diminish the serious toxic & safety hazards associated with ammonia and the importance of following strict safety protocols to prevent injury, death, or fish kills in an accidental release. Ammonia, like all other forms of substantial energy carriers comes with strict safety protocols for manufacture, handling, storage, and distribution.
RMP hopes to have made clear in this article why theleaders and the scientific community in Australia are all in on green hydrogen & piloting green ammonia plants & commercializing technology to crack ammonia into N2 & H2. In less than one week, on August 27 & 28, 2020, the Australian Chapter of the Ammonia Energy Association will host their 2ND Ammonia = Hydrogen 2.0 Conference (virtual this year due to COVID-19).The conference will be hosted from Monash University based in Melbourne Australia on the south coast.
China, Korea, & Japan are all in on green hydrogen and will leverage Australia as a regional trading partner.Australia can provide clean hydrogen energy in a format with a similar economics & logistics to petroleum without the nasty BTEX environmental traits that are silent killers of sovereign wealth. Europe is also expected to be a dominant green ammonia producer according to this article.
Currently, China must invest in all sorts of remote places places in Brazil, Africa, Canada, the USA, and the Middle east to get the coal, crude oil, natural gas, & NGLsit so desperately needs to provide energy & industrial feedstocks for its over 1.3 billion power hungry consumers.What if China could do away with crude oil boondoggles & all those far away countries and get clean green energy from domestic production supplemented by a nearby trading partner like Australia?This is why RMP writes about China’s extensive economic investments into the manufacture of green hydrogen & fuel cells all across China.The exact same goes for Japan & Korea.For those who find interest in the study of chemistry & economics, it’s not difficult to see why so many people around the world are investing sovereign wealth into green ammonia and the hydrogen economy.Green ammonia is a stepping stone on the critical path to a decarbonized society.
There are different battery chemistries (NiCd, NiMH, Lead Acid, Li-ion, low cobalt li-ion, lithium polymer) that compete with each other for practical real world applications.There are many different types of fuel cells (PEM, SOFC, PAFC, Alkaline) that also compete with each other for practical applications.All will have roles to play with some more dominant than others just like a sports team made up of great athletes.Similar to the way an artist needs all of the colors in the spectrum on their palette to paint a masterpiece, getting to 100% carbon free energy will need every battery chemistry & fuel cell type to compete with each other on the same canvass of human needs.Because different types of energy are competitors, it does not mean they must be enemies.This is true for humans too.
A lot of human energy goes into arguing about batteries vs hydrogen but clenched fists cannot reach for olive branches.All the battery chemistries & types of fuel cells can compete & coexist in an inclusive arena that understands we will need batteries for some green energy storage & hydrogen for other green stuff. For example, we will need green hydrogen to make green ammonia because ammonia is essential for life.And, as long as we invest in green ammonia to make it cheap & abundant, we should also use it as an energy storage medium with a high energy density that replaces the oil & natural gas we use now.Imagine blue skies & pure drinking water for everyone around the world.Think about so many people here in America and those around the world who should not have to breathe NOx & SOx pollution because they live near a power plant.We have hundreds if not thousands of people now living next to SOx & NOx fumes right here in Detroit near Zug Island & DTE’s River Rouge plant.I know Detroit needs big energy to forge metal & make the cars and trucks that keep America moving, but yuck.Just yuck.We gotta just stop with dirty energy.Ammonia can provide the energy needed to make clean steel in a very cost effective manner here in Detroit, the same way as it can in Australia or Asia.
RMP is a Michigan registered & federal 501(c)3 non-profit organization.RMP writes about and advocates for clean energy that helps protect our freshwater resources here in Michigan and around the world. RMP also makes maps of clean & dirty energy infrastructure using the Google Maps API.Follow us on Twitter and like us onFacebook. Please click here to make a tax deductible donation to RMP to help us keep publishing free content with no ads & energy infrastructure maps.
The featured infographic image for this post comes from the Iberdola Spain green ammonia pilot plant. The Iberdola green ammonia plant will be a $177M investment, create 700 jobs, and eliminate 40,000 tons of CO2 each year.