Renewable hydrogen a feedstock for ammonia manufacturing

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced two grants to ammonia manufacturers to produce renewable ammonia through the use of hydrogen.

The first grant, of $1.9 milion to Queensland Nitrates Pty Ltd (QNP) will allow the company assess the feasibility of the constructing and operating a renewable ammonia plant at its current facility near Moura, in Central Queensland.

Along with partners Neoen and Worley, 20,000 tonnes of ammonia could be produced from 3.600 tonnes of renewable hydrogen, equivalent to 20 per cent of QNP current ammonia requirements.

The other grant, of $980,000, will go towards Dyno Nobel, a business of Incited Pivot, to carry out the same operation at its Moranbah ammonia plant. Here, a 160 MW electrolyser and a 210 MW solar farm could produce renewable hydrogen for the production of ammonia. Currently, the plant produced 360,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate.

In both cases, hydrogen would replace natural gas as a feedstock for ammonia. The power to run the electrolysers would come from renewable energy including wind and solar.

Today, 50 per cent of deliberate hydrogen production is used in the manufacture of ammonia. With investments such as these ARENA hopes to encourage the commercial-scale production of hydrogen, as a zero emissions energy and feedstock.

CEO of ARENA, Darren Miller, highlighted how seed funding such as this would go on to enable hydrogen to be produced commercially.

“Hydrogen is a huge opportunity for Australia, both for domestic use and as an export opportunity – and we believe that you cannot realise the export potential without a domestic market, which is why ARENA is looking to fund renewable ammonia and other domestic applications,” said Miller.

While natural gas has been the preferred option for ammonia production to date, lowering the cost of hydrogen could see the renewable gas compete at an industrial scale.

“ARENA is helping to create a market for hydrogen and to ensure that Australia remains at the front of this shift to renewable energy. ARENA is helping industry produce hydrogen at a price, quality and reliability point where it can be competitive with natural gas,” said Miller.

According to a report by ACIL Allen Consulting, Australia’s hydrogen export industry could be worth $1.7 billion annually and support 2,800 jobs by 2030.