Green ammonia demonstration plant in The Netherlands

Last month, a heavyweight consortium of local and global companies announced plans to collaborate on a project to design, build, operate, and evaluate a demonstration plant to produce “green ammonia” from water, air, and renewable energy in The Netherlands.

Click to enlarge. ISPT, Power to Ammonia, Figure 3.17: Assumed electricity production profile from the tidal production facility, March 2017
This is one practical outcome of last year’s Power-to-Ammonia study, which examined the economic and technical feasibility of using tidal power off the island of Goeree-Overflakkee in Zuid-Holland to power a 25 MWe electrolyzer, and feed renewable hydrogen to a 20,000 ton per year green ammonia plant.

The demonstration phase will be led by the original developer, Dutch mini-ammonia plant developer Proton Ventures. However, its partners in the venture now include Yara and Siemens, as well as speciality fertilizer producer Van Iperen, and local sustainable agricultural producer, the Van Peperstraten Groep.

Together with Yara, Siemens, Van Iperen and Van Peperstraten Groep, Proton Ventures will develop, realize, operate, monitor and evaluate a demonstration plant of green ammonia at Goeree Overflakkee and use it as an example for larger-scale factories.
Proton Ventures news, Proton Ventures signs regional green hydrogen-agreement, 12/08/2017

The demonstration plant, which is scheduled to begin operations before January 2020, will be scaled to a 20 MW electrolyzer system, giving it an ammonia capacity of 40-50 tons per day.

This new project comes directly out of the Power-to-Ammonia feasibility study, published in 2017, which in part examined the theoretical business case for the local grid operator, Stedin, to reduce its costs of integrating renewables into the grid by producing green ammonia at Goeree-Overflakkee, either as energy storage or as premium fertilizer, using excess renewable electricity. I wrote in depth about this Power to Ammonia: Stedin – Goeree-Overflakkee case in May 2017.

This is not the first demonstration project to come out of the Power-to-Ammonia study. As I wrote in July 2017, Norwegian oil major Statoil, European pipeline operator Gasunie, and electricity utility Nuon (the Dutch subsidiary of Vattenfall) are already collaborating on a project to use ammonia for grid-scale, carbon-free power generation, with the first phase to be on-line by 2023 and a second phase envisioned for 2030. And, since this was announced, other oil majors keep getting involved in the project’s broader CCUS aspect, now including Shell and Total.

Click to visit Energy Island Goeree-Overflakkee.
The latest announcement by Proton Ventures is part of a broader sustainability initiative by local Goeree-Overflakkee and national Dutch government agencies, which, on the same day, announced the signing of the Green Hydrogen Covenant by more than 25 companies representing the region’s power, chemicals, and agricultural industries. The green ammonia demonstration plant is just one example of the island’s green hydrogen projects.

According to its new website, the Energy Island of Goeree-Overflakkee is set to be an energy exporter by 2020, by which time it will be “more than 120 percent energy-neutral.” The challenge, therefore, is not only to find optimal ways to utilize renewable electricity, but also to determine the best way to export it – and ammonia provides exactly that opportunity.

Hydrogen will play an important role in the energy transition, both in energy management, mobility and sustainability of raw materials in agriculture and industry. Goeree-Overflakkee has been designated by the province of Zuid-Holland as a testing ground for various innovative ‘green’ hydrogen projects …

More than twenty-five national and international parties signed the very first regional ‘GREEN’ hydrogen covenant on Friday 8 December. The covenant bears the name: Covenant Green Hydrogen Economy South Holland: testing ground Energy Island Goeree-Overflakkee (H2G-O). The parties are committed to researching economic promising projects and, where possible, implementing them through a program-based approach.
Energy Island of Goeree-Overflakkee, Hydrogen Covenant, 12/08/2017

While the initial announcements don’t specify further details about the green ammonia demonstration plant on Goeree-Overflakkee, more information will be forthcoming.

In particular, Proton Ventures will host its second annual Power-to-Ammonia conference in Rotterdam on May 17 and 18, 2018, where representatives from both Yara and Siemens will be speaking about green ammonia production (full disclosure: so will I).