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.
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.
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.