Yara plans carbon emissions cut of 800,000 tonnes

The Norwegian chemical group's ammonia plant in Porsgrunn is one of the country's largest CO2 emitters. Now Yara moves to replace its natural gas power input with electricity in order to reduce emissions, but the company says it needs partners and state aid.

Photo: Yara International ASA

Green hydrogen is the fuel of the future.

Or that's at least what Norwegian chemical group Yara seems to express with its latest move to boost ammonia production stemming from hydrogen as a vehicle to ride the green wave.

"Ammonia will play a big role in securing a hydrogen economy, and we believe that green hydrogen is strongly positioned to lead the green energy transition," says Yara Executive Vice President of Farming Solutions Terje Knutsen in the company's recent investor seminar.

The ambition of playing a role in climate change mitigation doesn't harmonize well with operating a facility that emits copious quantities of carbon dioxide, which is why Yara now seeks partnerships and public support to electrify its ammonia plant in Porsgrunn, Norway, bidding natural gas as a chemical precursor adieu.

By electrifying the facility, Yara will be able to cut 800,000 tonnes off its annual emissions by 2026.

The Porsgrunn plant makes 500,000 tonnes of the ammonia per year, and Yara says the product will play a big role in its future business, in which green hydrogen will hold a prominent place.

"Ammonia as fuel and energy resource can achieve enormous potential solely within the next 15 years. It could end up playing a key role in the hydrogen economy. Pre-existing ammonia production can be scaled to accommodate the massive build-out we expect to follow from investing in hydrogen," Knutsen says.

Photo: Yara International ASA
Photo: Yara International ASA

Yara sees major potential in current production of the chemical and says ammonia's properties make it perfect for an economy fueled by H2:

"It does not require cooling to extreme temperatures, and has a higher energy density than liquid hydrogen, making it more efficient to transport and store. Ammonia is therefore the most promising hydrogen carrier and zero-carbon shipping fuel," the company writes in a media release.

Last year, Yara entered a collaboration with compatriot hydrogen group Nel to produce renewable H2 for fertilizer production. Nel will supply 5 MW's worth of electrolysis systems to be tested at the Porsgrunn setup, for which Yara now seeks an additional 20 MW in electrolysis production capacity.

Earlier this year, news emerged that the group made a project deal with Ørsted that aims to replace gray hydrogen with with the green variety at an ammonia plant in the Netherlands.

"Yara is uniquely positioned to help decarbonize the food chain, with trusted relationships with millions of farmers in 65 countries. We see a clear opportunity to contribute to sustainable agriculture, while at the same building new business for both farmers and for Yara," Knutsen writes.

Beyond its hydrogen venture, Yara has also set a general climate objective, whereby the company targets a 30-percent emissions cut meant to land at 12 million tonnes before 2030. The company will furthermore strive to comply with Paris Climate Accord commitments and sets out to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen

(Note: Seminar citations retranslated from Danish)

Ørsted and Yara to build hydrogen plant in Netherlands 

Nel enters deal for large-scale hydrogen plant

Ørsted, BP join forces on hydrogen project

Statkraft to focus on South America and liquid hydrogen 

Wärtsilä to conduct engine test with ammonia in early 2021 



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