Two major clean ammonia projects have been announced in Abu Dhabi within a day of each other — a $1bn facility powered by green hydrogen produced from a dedicated 800MW solar project, and a much larger blue ammonia plant using blue H2 derived from fossil gas with carbon capture and storage.
The $1bn facility would produce 200,000 tonnes of green ammonia per year at the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad), a free-trade port close to the city of Abu Dhabi, and be developed a privately owned special project vehicle company called Helios Industry.
Completion dates have not been announced, with a Kizad statement merely stating that it would be built “in the near future”.
The blue ammonia plant would be built by state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Co (Adnoc) at the industrial hub of Ruwais, 200km to the west of the capital city, with a production capacity of one million tonnes per year — five times larger than the Kizad project.
A final investment decision is due next year, following a feasibility study, with first production expected in 2025.
The CO2 produced at the Ruwais facility would be captured and stored at Adnoc’s Al Reyadah carbon capture and storage (CCS) project on the outskirts of the capital city. Carbon capture technology can only capture 70-95% of the CO2 emitted from hydrogen production, so it is considered to be low-carbon, whereas green hydrogen is zero-carbon.
Ammonia is produced by combining hydrogen with nitrogen from the air using the well-established Haber-Bosch process.
Both facilities would sell their ammonia on international markets, with Adnoc having already signed hydrogen agreements in Japan and South Korea.
Today, about 176 million tonnes of grey ammonia (derived from hydrogen produced via unabated fossil gas) is produced annually, mainly for fertiliser production, emitting about 500 million tonnes of CO2, roughly 1.8% of global emissions.
Zero-carbon green ammonia is increasingly being touted as a future clean fuel for international shipping.