Siemens Gamesa investigating green ammonia pilot plant in Denmark

Another week, another green ammonia pilot plant.

Siemens Gamesa, the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer (by installed capacity), has announced a partnership with local climate innovation fund Energifonden Skive to investigate the production of ammonia from wind power at an eco-industrial hub in Denmark’s “Green Tech Valley.” The announcement describes “an agreement to jointly explore eco-friendly ammonia production as a way to store surplus electricity from wind turbines. The goal: a pilot plant at GreenLab Skive.”

Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy … sees green ammonia as a potential means of storing surplus energy from onshore and offshore wind farms.

Senior Key Expert Jens Schiersing Thomsen of Siemens Gamesa explains: “In the green, sustainable energy supply systems of the future, one of our biggest challenges will be storing and converting energy and resources. One solution may be the use of surplus wind-based electricity to produce eco-friendly ammonia. This solution would offer double benefits: using the surplus energy that arises in peak wind situations, and creating a new, sustainable product we call ‘green’ ammonia.”
GreenLab Skive announcement, Storing surplus wind power as green ammonia at GreenLab Skive, 08/21/2018

It is too early for specifics on this project: “They will soon embark on their initial investigations, which include determining plant size and capacity,” and more details will emerge “over the next few years.” However, if the pilot is successful, this announcement holds a clue to the potential scale of Siemens Gamesa’s ambitions for wind-to-ammonia deployment: offshore.

This is no longer an issue of building distributed mini-ammonia plants attached to megawatt-scale wind turbines. This is now about designing world-scale offshore ammonia plants to provide storage and transportation for the energy produced by gigawatt-scale wind farms.

We foreshadowed this announcement in March 2018 in an Ammonia Energy article, Ammonia Tagged as Storage Medium for Wind Energy. To understand the commercial motivation for Siemens Gamesa to develop green ammonia, it helps to understand the obstacles to deep deployment of wind power, as explained in that article in the words of Henrik Stiesdal, the former Chief Technology Officer of Siemens Wind Power (which became Siemens Gamesa):

The single biggest challenge to the [offshore wind] industry is actually not directly related to the technology or business itself, but to the overall character of renewable energy production. In countries and regions with high penetration of wind power the intermittency of the energy production is more and more seen as an obstacle to further development. Consequently, we need to develop storage and interconnectors.
Henrik Stiesdal quoted in Ammonia Energy, Ammonia Tagged as Storage Medium for Wind Energy, 03/22/2018

It is no coincidence that the Technical University of Denmark (DTU), where Stiesdal is now an affiliate professor, and GreenLab Skive, where this green ammonia pilot plant will be built, are “currently working together to set up a national Danish energy centre.”

“We’ll be grappling with one of the major challenges to our energy system: storing surplus power …” says Commercial Director Christopher Sorensen of GreenLab Skive …

A pilot plant to produce green ammonia at GreenLab Skive will be a key element in the business park’s symbiotic infrastructure and the efforts of the centre for energy integration and storage.
GreenLab Skive announcement, Storing surplus wind power as green ammonia at GreenLab Skive, 08/21/2018