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Japan's JERA to procure 40,000 mt ammonia for 20% co-burning with coal by 2024-25

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Japan's JERA to procure 40,000 mt ammonia for 20% co-burning with coal by 2024-25


To burn 200 mt ammonia at No. 5 Hekinan unit over Aug-Dec

JERA to commercialize 20% co-burning ammonia-fueled power by 2030

Ammonia seen as among zero emission power fuels

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  • Takeo Kumagai
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  • Pritish Raj
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  • Energy Transition Environment and Sustainability Hydrogen: Beyond the Hype

Japan's largest power generation company JERA plans to procure 30,000-40,000 mt of ammonia by fiscal year 2024-25 (April-March), as it starts 20% co-firing at its No. 4 1 GW coal-fired unit at Hekinan thermal power plant in central Japan for a pilot project, a company spokesman said May 24.

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JERA said it will move ahead to start a four-year-long pilot project to burn 20% ammonia at its Hekinan coal-fired power plant as it pledges to commercialize its ammonia co-burning power generation by 2030.

JERA Hekinan thermal power plant in central Japan

Image courtesy of JERA

The move follows acceptance of its joint grant application with Japan's IHI by the state-owned New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization to proceed with the pilot project, the first in the world to use a large commercial coal-fired power plant for co-burning ammonia.

The pilot project, running from June 2021 until March 2025, aims to establish ammonia co-firing technology by co-burning coal and ammonia, as well as evaluate both boiler heat absorption and its environmental impact characteristics such as exhaust gases.

In addition to the planned demonstration of 20% co-burning ammonia at the Hekinan No. 4 unit, JERA and IHI plan to burn around 200 mt of ammonia for their co-burning tests using burners of different materials at the No. 5 1 GW coal-fired unit at the Hekinan thermal power plant over August-December 2021, the JERA spokesman said.

Carbon neutrality

The start of 20% co-burning ammonia with coal marks a step forward as JERA aims to start using 100% ammonia as a fuel in the 2040s, as part of its 2050 carbon neutrality target.

Ammonia -- three hydrogen atoms, one of nitrogen, and thus about 18% hydrogen by weight -- releases no carbon emissions when combusted in a thermal power plant. Ammonia is seen among prospective zero emission fuels to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Under a policy report released Feb. 8 by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Japan aims to introduce by 2030 3 million mt/year of fuel ammonia, or equivalent to 500,000 mt/year of hydrogen, by lowering ammonia supply costs.

A 1 GW coal-fired power plant would need about 500,000 mt/year of ammonia for 20% co-burning, meaning 3 million mt/year of ammonia consumption would require six 1 GW coal-fired units, Ryo Minami, METI's director-general of oil, gas and mineral resources told S&P Global Platts on Jan. 8.

Japan has estimated its demand for fuel ammonia in the power and shipping sectors to be 30 million mt/year in 2050, equivalent to 5 million mt/year of hydrogen, after introducing it commercially in the 2020s by developing new supply chains.