Fertiliser manufacturing giant, Yara International, has officially opened its renewable hydrogen plant at Herøya, Norway.

The hydrogen, which is produced with the electrolysis of water and renewable energy, will replace natural gas as feedstock for ammonia production, cutting 41,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually from the site.

The 24 MW renewable hydrogen plant at Herøya Industrial Park is now the largest of its kind currently in operation in Europe.

Ammonia is the second-most-widely produced commodity-chemical in the world, with an annual production volume of over 180 million tonnes, 20 million tonnes of which is produced in the EU.

Green ammonia

Ammonia is mostly utilised in agriculture, with 80% of global ammonia production going into fertiliser and 20% into industrial products.

Unlike 'brown' ammonia, which is made using fossil fuels (typically natural gas) as the feedstock, the raw materials for green ammonia are hydrogen produced through the electrolysis of water, a process powered by renewable energy sources, and nitrogen obtained from the air using an air separation unit.

Green ammonia can then be synthesised from nitrogen and hydrogen.

Yara said it has already delivered the first tonnes of fertilisers made from green ammonia produced at the new hydrogen plant.

Low-carbon footprint fertilisers

The low-carbon footprint fertilisers will be part of a new portfolio called Yara Climate Choice.

In addition to fertilisers produced with electrolysis of water and renewable energy, fertilisers based on low-carbon ammonia produced using carbon capture storage (CCS) will be a large part of Yara’s portfolio going forward, the company stated.

"Renewable ammonia is an important part of the decarbonisation puzzle, however, developing it at scale takes time,” says Hans Olav Raen, CEO of Yara Clean Ammonia.

“As the world is rapidly approaching 2030, we are also working to produce low-carbon ammonia with CCS to enable the hydrogen economy and develop the emerging markets for low-emission ammonia," he said.