Topsoe, First Ammonia head for Big Ammonia, Net Zero-Style via massive electrolyzer deal

September 15, 2022 |

In New York, Topsoe and First Ammonia signed a 5GW launch company agreement for the reservation of first-of-a-kind, industrial-scale, solid oxide electrolyzer cells to produce green ammonia, a fuel for transportation, power storage and generation, and fertilizer. First Ammonia is developing the world’s first modular, commercial-scale plants to produce green ammonia from intermittent renewable energy.

According to the principals, this is shaping up to be the largest agreement in the world, to date, for any type of electrolyzer and will displace almost 5 BCM of natural gas and eliminate 13 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year

The technology and partnership story

Topsoe’s solid oxide electrolyzer cells (SOEC) will be installed in First Ammonia’s green ammonia plants around the world in the coming years. The agreement provides for an initial purchase of 500MW of SOEC units and is expandable to up to 5GW over the lifetime of the agreement. Topsoe’s SOEC manufacturing plant is to be built in Herning, Denmark, and has recently received a go-ahead from the board.

At 5GW, this would be the largest ever electrolyzer reservation of any type. The production of 5 million metric tons of green ammonia produced per year would eliminate 13 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually, the equivalent of taking 9 million petrol-fueled cars off the road.

The first 500 MW of capacity will be installed in the world’s first commercial-scale green ammonia plants at sites in Northern Germany and Southwestern United States.

The First Ammonia backstory

First Ammonia has been developing sites around the globe with the first installation of 500MW of capacity to be installed at locations in Northern Germany and Southwestern United States. These projects will be the world’s first commercial-scale, green ammonia production facilities with operation planned for 2025. First Ammonia will operate all its plants dynamically to support existing renewable power markets.

Why green ammonia?

Green ammonia has the highest volumetric energy density out of all the hydrogen-based energy sources – much more than pure hydrogen – which makes it cheap and easy to store and transport. With an existing global ammonia infrastructure, green ammonia can quickly and easily replace hydrocarbon-based fuels for a wide range of use cases, with ammonia fueled ships already on order and ammonia power stations under development.

A furious pace of development and deployment

We reported here that Alfa Laval gets green light to test ammonia as a fuel.  We reported here that EverWind Fuels and Uniper signed an MOU for green ammonia purchase.  And we reported here on Amogy’s Ammonia in our Competitive Edge feature.   

In R&D we reported that Jupiter Ionics licensed Monash University’s carbon neutral ammonia technology.  In offtake we reported that WinGD’s ship engines to run on methanol and ammonia by 2024 and 2025.

Plus, Topsoe has been elsewhere busy, as we reported here when Green Fuel, Haldor Topsoe signed an MOU to identify technologies for green ammonia in Iceland.  Sasol is in the mix, more on that here.  And Mitsui, too, more on that here.

By operating dynamically—producing ammonia during off-peak power demand hours—First Ammonia will be a net contributor to the economics of renewable power production, providing for the further build-out of additional renewable power wherever they build a production plant. The key difference is Dynamism — and more on the technology partners and development story here in our report on $13M awarded for world’s first industrial dynamic green ammonia demo plant

And, famously, it has no carbon it it at all.

Reaction from the stakeholders

Joel Moser, CEO of First Ammonia, said: “We have the utmost confidence in Topsoe and its storied scientists and engineers, which is why we have chosen Topsoe as our partner. With their cutting edge SOEC electrolyzers and industry leading ammonia synthesis, we will develop facilities around the world to produce millions of tons of green ammonia from water and air. Ammonia saved humanity from starvation a century ago as a replacement for depleted sources of fertilizers, in large part due to Topsoe’s excellence. Ammonia can save humanity once again as the workhorse of the hydrogen economy, replacing petrochemicals to decarbonize agriculture, transportation and power storage and generation.”

Roeland Baan, CEO of Topsoe, said: “We need to accelerate the development and industrialization of sustainable solutions, while also increasing energy independence, which is why we are delighted to partner with First Ammonia on the global development of its green ammonia facilities. With this agreement, we enable the production of millions of tons of green ammonia in support of the decarbonization agenda.” 

Sundus Cordelia Ramli, Chief Commercial Officer for Power to X at Topsoe, added: “Topsoe is delighted to be working with the First Ammonia on these large-scale, commercial green ammonia plants. This agreement leverages Topsoe’s 80+ years of world class ammonia experience and is evidence of the many benefits of SOEC, including lowering project costs as the most efficient electrolyzer technology. This agreement is an enormous step forward and towards a more sustainable future and we look forward to working with our friends at First Ammonia in the years ahead.”

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