The second annual Power to Ammonia conference, which took place earlier this month in Rotterdam, was a tremendous success. It was again hosted by Proton Ventures, the Dutch engineering firm and mini-ammonia-plant pioneer, and had roughly twice as many attendees as last year with the same extremely high quality of presentations (it is always an honor for me to speak alongside the technical wizards and economic innovators who represent the world of ammonia energy).
However, for me, the most exciting part of this year's event was the fact that, for the first time at an ammonia energy conference, all four of the major ammonia technology licensors were represented. With Casale, Haldor Topsoe, ThyssenKrupp, and KBR all developing designs for integration of their ammonia synthesis technologies with renewable powered electrolyzers, green ammonia is now clearly established as a commercial prospect.
This week, the government of South Australia announced a "globally-significant demonstrator project," to be built by the hydrogen infrastructure company Hydrogen Utility (H2U). The renewable hydrogen power plant will cost AUD$117.5 million ($95 million USD), and will be built by ThyssenKrupp Industrial Solutions with construction beginning in 2019.
The plant will comprise a 15 MW electrolyzer system, to produce the hydrogen, and two technologies for converting the hydrogen back into electricity: a 10MW gas turbine and 5MW fuel cell. The plant will also include a small but significant ammonia plant, making it "among the first ever commercial facilities to produce distributed ammonia from intermittent renewable resources."
In August 2017, Cronus Chemicals announced that its proposed greenfield in Tuscola, IL, is still moving forward, with a shiny new agreement with an EPC firm, as well as a revised project scope (more ammonia, less urea), and a more realistic schedule.
Unfortunately, while this was widely reported as being a major step forward, there's a world of difference between an agreement with an EPC firm and an actual EPC agreement.
Midwest Fertilizer Company continues to juggle progress and setbacks on its $3 billion greenfield nitrogen plant in Indiana, following the December 2016 termination of its EPC contract with ThyssenKrupp. In the last few weeks, we've seen updates on the EPC contract, air permits, debt financing in Pakistan, and the $1.259 billion tax-exempt bond issue in the US.
In case you wondered why the CEO of ThyssenKrupp Industrial Services resigned last week in Germany, it's all because of Midwest Fertilizer Company's greenfield plant in Indiana - and the (alleged) shenanigans involved in securing the Midwest EPC contract from Fatima Fertilizer Company in Pakistan.
Midwest Fertilizer Company announced yesterday that it had awarded the EPC contract for its world-scale nitrogen fertilizer complex to ThyssenKrupp.
This is the first real progress for the project in over a year: in Spring 2015, the previous EPC contract negotiations with Tecnimont collapsed. In the meantime, Midwest's sponsor, Fatima Fertilizer Company, has been busy wrangling regulatory issues with its equity raise in Pakistan, the $1.259 billion bond has been retired and reauthorized maybe a half dozen times, and the air permit has been extended until June 2017.
SUMMARY STATUS: Financing phase
Awaiting financial close, before project is confirmed and construction can begin; no date yet for groundbreaking. In August 2017, Cronus announced a new EPC partner, a reduced cost for smaller capacity, and a more realistic schedule. The project has been repeatedly postponed over the last few years - so much so that its air permit has now expired, and the project must apply for and receive a new air permit before construction can begin.
SUMMARY STATUS: Planning phase
Major setbacks in 2016, when the EPC contract was awarded and then fell apart following a corruption scandal and a failure to secure equity financing. Major setbacks predicted in 2017 and confirmed in 2018, related to debt financing. Air permits were extended in 2017 but any progress now depends on winning a legal argument with the IRS.