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Yara and Nel deepen carbon free hydrogen for fertilizer collaboration

In Norway, mineral fertiliser major Yara International ASA (Yara) and hydrogen technology solutions provider Nel ASA has signed an agreement confirming a shared ambition of developing clean hydrogen which would allow Yara to realize low carbon footprint fertilizer production. The project is based on Nel’s development of new water electrolyzer technology that will be tested at Yara’s existing plant in Porsgrunn, Norway.

On August 20, 2019, Yara International and Nel signed an agreement confirming a shared ambition of developing clean hydrogen which would allow Yara to realize low carbon footprint fertilizer production in Norway. Jon-André Løkke (left), CEO of Nel Hydrogen and Tove Andersen, EVP Production at Yara (photo courtesy Yara).

The goal is to produce hydrogen from renewable sources to be fed into Yara’s existing ammonia plant, which will either be used in fertilizer production or used as green ammonia. The project is supported by Norway’s Research Council, Innovation Norway, and Enova through the PILOT-E programme, a funding scheme that aims to speed up the development and implementation of green energy technology.

We’re excited to formally launch the partnership with Nel and work towards developing green ammonia and low carbon fertilizer. Yara’s mission is to responsibly feed the world and protect the planet. We have already removed about half of our direct GHG emissions in the past few decades, and we’re working towards carbon neutrality by 2050. Producing fertilizer with carbon-free hydrogen will be a very important step towards that goal, said Tove Andersen, EVP Production in Yara.

Back to the future for electrolysis

Initially, a team of Yara experts pondered how they could produce fertilizer using only air, water, sun, wind, and rocks. The answer would have to be a sustainable, energy effective and commercially viable solution. Interestingly, the way forward was found by looking back into Yara’s history.

The electrolyzer, an almost century-old technology that was made uncompetitive by the low cost of fossil energy, would be brought back into play. Producing hydrogen from water using electricity, Nel is developing their next-generation electrolyzer where the prototype will be tested at Porsgrunn.

The capacity of the electrolyzer will be 5 MW corresponding to 1 percent of the hydrogen production in Porsgrunn. It is expected to be installed in 2022.

We are very pleased with the partnership with Nel. Our ammonia plant will make the first small step towards carbon-free fertilizer production. When further developed, Yara Porsgrunn will be in a unique position also due to the low carbon footprint from our nitric acid plants, said Jon Sletten, Plant manager in Porsgrunn.

This agreement is part of the project portfolio that BU Decarbonize is working on, alongside the ENGIE project in Australia. The goal is to ensure Yara will be the market shaper for green ammonia and low carbon fertilizer production.

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