Europe’s Top Fertilizer Maker Uses Green Hydrogen to Cut CO2

Europe’s largest fertilizer maker, Yara International ASA, opened a renewable hydrogen plant in Norway as it seeks to decarbonize a process that uses natural gas as a feedstock.

Bloomberg
Updated10 Jun 2024
Europe’s Top Fertilizer Maker Uses Green Hydrogen to Cut CO2
Europe’s Top Fertilizer Maker Uses Green Hydrogen to Cut CO2

(Bloomberg) -- Europe’s largest fertilizer maker, Yara International ASA, opened a renewable hydrogen plant in Norway as it seeks to decarbonize a process that uses natural gas as a feedstock.

The fertilizer industry faces a tough task to cut emissions, as gas is both a feedstock and a source of energy in the production of ammonia. So-called green ammonia can be produced by combining hydrogen from water electrolysis using renewable energy with nitrogen.

The 24-megawatt demonstration facility, currently Europe’s largest water electrolysis plant, is a step toward cutting emissions at the Heroya factory, one of Norway’s largest sources of CO2 outside the oil and gas industry. The new facility will cut Heroya’s 800,000 tons of annual CO2 emissions by 5%.

The plant, being inaugurated by Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store in Porsgrunn in the Telemark region, has already delivered the first fertilizer made from renewable ammonia produced at the factory. But further expansion of green hydrogen capacity is unlikely until a complete conversion of the whole ammonia plant is undertaken, Yara CEO Svein Tore Holsether said.

“We’ve maxed out what we technically can do in order to connect this with the ammonia plant,” Holsether said on Monday. “It’s not incremental.”

In the meantime, the fertilizer maker is pursuing so-called blue ammonia projects, where natural gas is used as a feedstock and stores the resulting carbon dioxide deep underground.

“The major difference here are time-lines,” Holsether said. “Green will likely be dominant into the future, but in order to create scale and in a cost efficient way, to get things done right now, then blue is likely the winner.”

The Oslo-based company has signed an agreement with the Northern Lights project to transport CO2 from its Sluiskil site in the Netherlands to be stored under the North Sea off Norway. It’s also considering carbon capture projects in the US.

Yara, which invented a process to mass produce fertilizer more than a century ago, wants to become a major player in supplying clean energy. It sees clean ammonia as a solution to decarbonizing challenging sectors, such as shipping, power generation and agriculture.

It operates the world’s largest ammonia network, with 15 ships and access to 18 terminals, plus multiple production and consumption sites. 

(Updates with comment from CEO from fourth paragraph.)

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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