Yara and Nel commit to developing clean hydrogen

In an agreement signed last month, Yara and Nel confirm their shared ambition of developing clean hydrogen which would allow Yara to realise low carbon footprint fertiliser production.

The project is based on Nel’s development of new water electrolyser technology that will be tested at Yara’s existing plant in Porsgrunn, Norway. The goal is to produce hydrogen from renewable sources to be fed into our existing ammonia plant, which will either be used in fertiliser production or used as green ammonia. The project is supported by Norway’s Research Council, Innovation Norway and Enova through the PILOT-E program, 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 fertiliser. 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 fertiliser with carbon free hydrogen will be a very important step towards that goal”, says Tove Andersen, EVP Production in Yara.

Initially, a team of Yara experts pondered how they could produce fertiliser 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 electrolyser, nearly a century old technology that was made uncompetitive by the low cost of fossil energy, would be brought back into play. An electrolyser produces hydrogen from water using electricity and Nel is developing their next generation electrolyser where the prototype will be tested at Porsgrunn. The capacity of the electrolyser will be 5 MW corresponding to 1% 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 fertiliser production. When further developed, Yara Porsgrunn will be in a unique position also due to the low carbon footprint from our nitric acid plants”, says Jon Sletten, Plant manager in Porsgrunn.

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

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About The Author

John Swire - Deputy editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is a season ticket holder at Stoke City and also of late has become a fitness freak, listing cycling, swimming and walking as his exercises of choice.