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Global Potential of Green Ammonia Based on Hybrid PV-wind Power Plants


Ammonia is one of the most commonly used feedstock chemicals globally. Therefore, decarbonisation of ammonia production is of high relevance towards achieving a carbon neutral energy system. This study investigates the global potential of green ammonia production from semi-flexible ammonia plants utilising a cost-optimised configuration of hybrid PV-wind power plants, as well as conversion and balancing technologies. The global weather data used is on an hourly time scale and 0.45◦ × 0.45◦ spatial resolution. The results show that, by 2030, solar PV would be the dominating electricity generation technology in most parts of the world, and the role of batteries would be limited, while no significant role is found for hydrogen-fuelled gas turbines. Green ammonia could be generated at the best sites in the world for a cost range of 440–630, 345–420, 300–330 and 260–290 €/tNH3 in 2020, 2030, 2040 and 2050, respectively, for a weighted average capital cost of 7%. Comparing this to the decade-average fossil-based ammonia cost of 300–350 €/t, green ammonia could become cost-competitive in niche markets by 2030, and substitute fossil-based ammonia globally at current cost levels. A possible cost decline of natural gas and consequently fossil-based ammonia could be fully neutralised by greenhouse gas emissions cost of about 75 €/tCO2 by 2040. By 2040, green ammonia in China would be lower in cost than ammonia from new coal-based plants, even at the lowest coal prices and no greenhouse gas emissions cost. The difference in green ammonia production at the least-cost sites in the world’s nine major regions is less than 50 €/tNH3 by 2040. Thus, ammonia shipping cost could limit intercontinental trading and favour local or regional production beyond 2040.

Funding source: The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of LUT University and the public funding of Business Finland for the ‘P2XENABLE’ project under the number 8588/31/2019, which partly funded this research. The first author thanks the Gasum Gas Fund for the valuable scholarship. We also thank Ashish Gulagi for proofreading.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Finland

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