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Green hydrogen for Germany | Canadian port unveils ammonia plant plan as Scholz seeks supply deal

08/22/2022

Posted by Rachel Parkes on Recharge News

A port on Canada’s eastern coast has unveiled plans to build a plant that will produce green hydrogen and ammonia for international export – ahead of a key visit to the region tomorrow (Tuesday) by the leader of energy crisis-stricken Germany, Olaf Scholz.

Port authorities at Belledune, northern New Brunswick, have reached an agreement in principle with Connecticut-based infrastructure developer Cross River Infrastructure Partners to build the facility, supplied by 200MW of “clean power”.

The proposal could come online by 2027, depending on the outcome of feasibility studies, permitting and environmental assessments.

The Belledune Port Authority (BPA) gave no further details on the size of the proposed ammonia project – or the green hydrogen facility required to feed it. With 200MW of power supply Recharge estimates the green H2 plant’s electrolyser capacity is likely to be in the region of dozens of MW, depending on the renewable source used.

New Brunswick’s power system is dominated by hydropower and nuclear, which make up around 60% of its electricity production, with wind and biomass contributing another 11%. However, the remainder is met with fossil fuel-powered generation which could cast doubt on the hydrogen’s green credentials, if the power for the electrolyser is sourced from the grid.

Green ammonia is made by adding nitrogen from the air to green hydrogen, via the centuries-old Haber-Bosch process. It is touted as a key decarbonisation fuel for shipping, and as a method of transporting green H2 for sale overseas. Crucially, green ammonia can also replace fossil fuel-derived ammonia for use as fertiliser, the production of which accounts for 1.8% of all global carbon emissions.

Ammonia from the plant would be exported to international markets, said the BPA, with planned expansions allowing the facility to serve local markets as well.

Scholz visit

The BPA and Cross River intend to visit neighbouring Newfoundland tomorrow (Tuesday) for the German-Canadian Atlantic Renewable Hydrogen Expo, which will be attended by Scholz, Germany’s Chancellor, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Scholz and Trudeau are expected to sign a key deal on hydrogen during the visit, which comes as Germany’s energy crisis looks set to escalate on the back of reduced natural gas flows from Russia. Germany used to source over half of its natural gas from Moscow, and has dramatically accelerated its plans to decarbonise since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in March, as well as searching for alternative short-term supplies. Trudeau and Scholz are also expected to agree an LNG supply deal during the visit.

Germany is scouring the world for potential hydrogen supply sources and is already looking to tap markets including Namibia and Australia.

“We believe the Port of Belledune is the best location in Eastern Canada to establish this innovative green hydrogen production facility,” said Rishi Jain, managing director of Cross River. “Belledune is an established year-round port with easy access to the key European Union and North American markets we’re targeting.

He added: “With most of the required infrastructure already in place, including a critical source of existing clean energy and substantial existing transmission to power our operations, we view this as a significant opportunity for everyone involved.”

Newfoundland has two green hydrogen proposals under development, both in Stephenville, including one onshore wind-based scheme led by a consortium known as World Energy GH2. The most recent proposal was put forward by Australia’s Fortescue Future Industries (FFI), which has reportedly filed paperwork for a hydrogen and green ammonia plant.

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