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The world’s largest green ammonia plant powered by renewable hydrogen could be built in Queensland, thanks to support from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

On behalf of the Australian Government, ARENA announced $980,000 for Dyno Nobel Moranbah, a business of Incitec Pivot Limited, to conduct and assess the feasibility of building a renewable ammonia facility at its existing Moranbah ammonia plant.

This project is aligned with ARENA’s new investment priorities focused on accelerating hydrogen in Australia and helping industry to reduce their emissions, which are geared towards future proofing Australia’s energy system and economy and helping to further unlock the vast renewable resources the country has on offer.

If feasible, the proposed green ammonia facility would include up to a 160MW electrolyser and 210MW solar farm co-located at Moranbah.

Dyno Nobel’s Moranbah facility currently operates a modern ammonia plant employing up to 110 people and manufactures more than 360,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate annually for supply to mining customers.

The company currently uses natural gas as its feedstock to make hydrogen for ammonia. The $2.7 million feasibility study will look at the potential to use renewable hydrogen produced via electrolysis to increase ammonia production at its facility to meet increased demand in the region for ammonium nitrate.

According to Bloomberg, over 50 per cent of deliberate hydrogen production is used for ammonia. Ammonia production accounts for 1 per cent of global emissions.

This is the second ARENA-funded feasibility study looking at how renewable hydrogen could produce ammonia, after it was announced that Queensland Nitrates would also investigate building a renewable hydrogen ammonia plant at their existing facility in Moura.

ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said this was the first step to decarbonising the ammonia sector, and would also help to progress the commercialisation of renewable hydrogen for domestic and international use.

“Hydrogen is a huge opportunity for Australia, both for domestic use and as an export opportunity – and we believe that you cannot realise the export potential without a domestic market, which is why ARENA is looking to fund renewable ammonia and other domestic applications,” Mr Miller said.

According to Mr Miller, ARENA has identified the ammonia sector as a key user of hydrogen and one that represents a significant opportunity to deploy renewable hydrogen technologies.

“As ammonia already uses hydrogen, ammonia production at large scale is an ideal opportunity for us to begin exploring the pathway to lowering emissions through the use of renewable hydrogen as it already uses hydrogen in an industrial application, and has existing supply chains and end users,” Mr Miller said.

“Given ammonia production is an energy-intensive industry that accounts for one per cent of global emissions, this project could also help the ammonia industry to reduce its emissions by switching to renewable hydrogen.”

“The aim of the feasibility study is to determine whether renewable hydrogen can be produced in a way that makes commercial sense to support expanding our Moranbah manufacturing facility in central Queensland,” Tim Wall, President Global Manufacturing Incitec Pivot Limited, said.

“We are pleased to be working with ARENA to determine whether we can lower the cost of producing renewable hydrogen at industrial scale, which would support local industry and jobs, and reduce our carbon footprint.”

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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