US Farmers Will Benefit From Green Ammonia Due To Fertilizer Supply Issues

Just a few years ago, the idea of combining distributed wind and solar resources with green ammonia production at US farms seemed so far-fetched. However, the influential investor organization Breakthrough Energy Ventures has joined forces with the business ReMo Energy to help launch the idea with a new round of $5.25 million in additional funding.

THE FERTILIZER SCOOP The continued rise in natural gas costs is driving up fertilizer prices in the US and other countries since a significant portion of the world’s ammonia fertilizer supply chain depends on natural gas for sourcing. Other factors driving up the price of fertilizer around the world are China’s power shortages and Russia’s aggressive invasion of Ukraine.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, Global fertilizer prices are at or near record levels and may stay high through 2022 and beyond. Fertilizer expenditures make up roughly one-fifth of U.S. farm cash costs, with corn and wheat growers bearing the brunt of this expense. For corn and wheat, fertilizer expenditures represent 36% and 35% of a farmer’s operational expenses, respectively.

The output of crops in 2022 and 2023 may be impacted by these high prices.
The already scarce fertilizer supply has been made worse by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and import-export restrictions have resulted, adding to shortage worries.

FOR US FARMERS, MORE DERS MEANS MORE GREEN AMMONIA Not just because hyper-local wind turbines and solar panels can increase system resiliency and dependability, but also because decentralized, distributed energy resources are popular with the US Department of Energy. Distributed wind and solar have also caught the Energy Department’s attention as a potential economic boost for US farmers.

The agency’s enthusiasm for distributed wind, which it defines as wind turbines of any size that generate power for on-site use or for use in a local grid, caught CleanTechnica’s attention back in 2020.

Individual farmers may find it difficult to afford the installation of a wind turbine for distribution purposes, but being able to produce a product with added value may make the decision easier. Farmers, for instance, might generate green hydrogen with their surplus clean kilowatts if they had access to their own distributed wind energy. They could also make renewable ammonia fertilizer with the hydrogen.

Farmers might potentially sell any extra green hydrogen or ammonia as supplementary revenue crops in addition to supplying themselves with a reliable supply of fuel, fertilizer, and storeable energy at a predictable price.

FOR GREEN HYDROGEN ANDAMP; AMMONIA, REMO HAS A PLAN ReMo Energy did not permit the ammonia grass to sprout under its feet. The Boston-based company announced the release of ReMonia, a nitrogen fertilizer production system that makes use of both solar and wind power’s low cost, in May of last year.

In the majority of the world today, solar and wind resources are the sources of electricity with the lowest marginal costs. ReMo emphasized that the globe now has the opportunity to synthesis high-volume goods at competitive prices without emitting carbon due to the falling costs and nearly universal availability of wind and solar resources. Utilizing local energy sources, ReMo Energy’s technology enables the production of nitrogen fertilizers and other materials exactly where they are required.

These days, electrolyzer news is stale, but ReMo is making a reputation for itself with an emphasis on cost-cutting and predictive modeling, primarily geared at easing the peaks for distributed, intermittent renewable energy supplies.

ReMo CEO and co-founder Scott Rackey continued, “With this technology, we are tackling not only decarbonization, but we are also helping to shorten agricultural supply chains and ensure farmers everywhere can nourish the globe without being at the mercy of unreliable fertilizer supplies.”

AWAY FROM GREEN AMMONIA The most recent ReMo news is the $5.25 million extra seed round that was announced last week. Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Darco Capital, and other investors joined the round that was led by AiiM Partners .

Green ammonia fertilizer appears to be only the beginning for ReMo. The business has already started to consider fuels and polymers.

According to the company, ReMo will first concentrate on green ammonia for uses like clean fertilizer in the corn belt of the United States, but future markets will also include transportation fuel and hydrogen storage.

According to them, ReMo Energy will use the capital profits to expand its business operations across the US Midwest and satisfy the demands of its expanding client base.

AiiM, for one, hopes for a prompt comeback.

Shally Shanker, the creator and managing partner of the company, said that ReMos technology and its novel methodology can scale production of renewable materials in two years as opposed to the usual ten years for competitors, while also being less expensive than products based on fossil fuels.

GREEN AMMONIA IS GROWING IN THE US Under the auspices of the University of Minnesota’s Green Ag Initiative, which oversees the West Central Research and Outreach Center in Morris, Minnesota, a comparable, decentralized strategy for fertilizer production has been taking shape.

The major objective of WCROC is to expand the use of renewables in US agriculture, both as consumers and producers. They might also have a suggestion for how Minnesota can lessen its reliance on imported fertilizer.

According to WCROC, Minnesota imports the majority of the ammonia fertilizer used by farmers. We are looking at a distributed small-scale ammonia manufacturing system’s technical feasibility and economic profitability .

Since at least 2013, WCROC has relentlessly pursued the profitability angle, and it appears that their efforts are going to bear fruit.

There needs to be a little bit of change in the US ammonia fertilizer market. Only 32 ammonia facilities were in operation as of the previous year in 17 states, principally in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Oklahoma and Texas wouldn’t necessarily lose their leading position if the green fertilizer market takes off. They might use their significant renewable energy resources to produce green ammonia on a huge scale.

The exception among the three states is Louisiana, but not for much longer. Louisiana and the rest of the Southeast have subpar onshore and offshore wind resources. The Energy Department first drew out some economic scenarios for Gulf wind in 2020, but Louisiana policy makers jumped on the concept of using the Gulf of Mexico for offshore wind energy.

One of those successful offshore wind possibilities might involve green ammonia. The top fertilizer manufacturer in the world, CF Industries, which is already utilizing the green ammonia perspective, happens to be based in Louisiana. At its Donaldsonville complex, the corporation has a facility under construction , and it will require a lot of clean kilowatts to power the electrolyzer equipment. CF anticipates that the facility will start up in 2023 and produce roughly 20,000 tons of green ammonia annually.

Texas is already developing a renewable hydrogen center, which means that green ammonia fertilizer is just around the corner. The green hydrogen hub’s initial planning was revealed in January 2021, ostensibly without the offshore wind component. However, President Joe Biden made it clear last week that Louisiana and Texas will be the primary states for Gulf of Mexico offshore wind development.

Green Hydrogen International has already been contacted. The largest green hydrogen production and storage hub in the world will be located in Duval County, Texas, according to a report from our colleagues at the Ammonia Energy Association, with assistance from 60 gigawatts of wind and solar .

According to AEA, 50 storage caverns totaling 6TWh will be built underground in the neighboring Piedras Pintas Salt Dome, and the facility will purchase and sell renewable energy to the Texas electrical system (ERCOT). The first operational phase, which will produce 2 GW of green hydrogen, is anticipated to begin in 2026.

They also claim that hydrogen will be transferred through pipeline to the Port of Corpus Christi and transformed into ammonia for export.

If the top US green ammonia-producing states have their sights set on the export market, that leaves plenty of room for businesses like ReMo to assist US farmers in overcoming the domestic supply shortage for fertilizer.

@TinaMCasey , follow me on Twitter.
For US farms, green ammonia could help stabilize the cost and supply of fertilizer (cropped image) (courtesy of USDA).

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