Centrica, in partnership with Mitsubishi Power, has unveiled plans for an ammonia-fired power plant in Cork, Ireland, set to be the first of its kind in Europe.
Under a memorandum of understanding, the two organisations agreed to collaborate on the exploration, construction and operation of the facility at Bord Gáis Energy’s Whitegate Combined Cycle Gas Turbine power station.
It will be one of only two such plants worldwide after Mitsubishi Power commenced development of the first-ever ammonia-fired power plant – a 40MW class gas turbine system wholly fuelled by ammonia – in 2021.
The project aims to utilise low-carbon ammonia as a sustainable fuel source for power generation. Ammonia not only boasts a higher volumetric density than hydrogen but already has existing transport chains from its use in other industries, making it a stable form of energy storage that is both easier to store and transport than the hydrogen it is made from. It can also be cost-efficient in that power companies can maintain existing plants’ equipment without much modification or new technology.
Simultaneously, the ‘ammonia fix’ has been criticised for its costs, lack of supply and emissions. The power generation costs of ammonia tower above that of other materials such as coal, and supply chains are not currently considered sufficient. Moreover, ammonia – while not emitting carbon dioxide when burned – can release emissions in its production, and the development of technology to control nitrogen oxide emissions remains a challenge.
Regardless of concerns, Centrica remains positive about its new ammonia initiative. “We hope to be able to show how hydrogen could be stored and transported as low-carbon ammonia, delivering cleaner energy for customers at the point of use,” group CEO Chris O’Shea says.
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Centrica intends to source low-carbon ammonia from across the world and use the expertise of Mitsubishi Power to enhance supply security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions through ammonia-fuelled power generation.