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Environment

Spanish to make fertilizer from green hydrogen

Project will cut CO₂ emissions by 39,000 metric tons

by Alex Scott
July 29, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 30

 

Two Spanish companies, the fertilizer producer Fertiberia and the energy firm Iberdrola, plan to build Europe’s largest plant making green hydrogen for industrial use—ammonia production in this case.

Green hydrogen in Puertollano

$174 million

Cost of the project

100MW

Size of solar power plant

720 metric tons (t)

H2 the plant will produce annually

39,000 t

Annual reduction in CO2 emissions

2021

Planned start-up date

Source: Fertiberia

The companies will build a facility with capacity to produce 720 metric tons (t) per year of green hydrogen next to Fertiberia’s ammonia plant in Puertollano, Spain, 250 km south of Madrid. Costing $175 million, it will feature a 100MW photovoltaic plant that generates electricity to power electrolyzers for splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen. Fertiberia will then combine the hydrogen with nitrogen to form ammonia.

Fertiberia will also use electrolysis-generated oxygen as a raw material for nitric acid, which it also uses to make fertilizers.

The partners aim to bring the facility online in 2021, supplementing H2 production from natural gas. Although the green H2 plant will be one of the largest in Europe, it will only enable Fertiberia to reduce its natural gas consumption by about 10%.

Nevertheless, Fertiberia estimates that the project will reduce the fertilizer plant’s greenhouse gas emissions by 39,000 t per year. The project makes Fertiberia a reference point for sustainable agriculture and a leader in the chemical industry’s energy transition, Javier Goñi, Fertiberia’s president, says in a statement. Given the current price of carbon on the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme, the project could also save Fertiberia about $1 million per year.

The companies did not disclose whether they received EU funding for the project. The EU disclosed recently that it will co-fund at least 6 GW of renewable H2 electrolyzers and the production of up to 1 million t of H2 in Europe through 2024.

About 500,000 t per year of hydrogen is produced from fossil fuels in Spain every year for the refining, chemical, and fertilizer industries, Iberdrola says. This generates 5 million t of CO2 emissions. Global H2 production of about 70 million t per year generates 830 million t of CO2, equivalent to 2% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

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