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Aramco announces first blue ammonia shipment for low-carbon energy future

Saudi Aramco employees [Notizie Economiche/Twitter]
Saudi Aramco employees, 14 November 2017 [Notizie Economiche/Twitter]

Saudi Aramco and the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ), in partnership with chemical manufacturing giant SABIC, have demonstrated the production and shipment of blue ammonia from Saudi Arabia to Japan with support from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the company has announced.

Forty tons of high-grade blue ammonia have already been dispatched to Japan for use in zero-carbon power generation.

Ammonia is a compound consisting of three parts hydrogen and one part nitrogen; it contributes to addressing the challenge of meeting the world’s growing energy needs while trying to save the planet. It also releases zero CO2 emissions when combusted in a thermal power plant. Blue ammonia has the potential to make a significant contribution to an affordable and reliable low-carbon energy future as a potential feedstock for sustainable hydrogen.

Aramco’s Chief Technology Officer, Ahmad Al-Khowaiter, described this milestone as a successful transnational, multi-industry partnership between Saudi Arabia and Japan. He added that multinational partnerships are key in realising the Circular Carbon Economy, championed by the Saudi Arabian G20 Presidency.

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“The use of hydrogen is expected to grow in the global energy system,” he explained, “and this world’s first demonstration represents an exciting opportunity for Aramco to showcase the potential of hydrocarbons as a reliable and affordable source of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia. Aramco continues to work with various partners around the world, finding solutions through the deployment of breakthrough technologies to produce low-carbon energy and address the global climate challenge.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of IEEJ, Toyoda Masakazu, pointed out that blue ammonia is critical to Japan’s zero carbon emission ambitions to sustain the balance between the environment and the economy. “About 10 per cent of power in Japan can be generated by 30 million tons of blue ammonia. We can start with co-firing blue ammonia in existing power stations, eventually transitioning to single firing with 100 per cent blue ammonia. The carbon neutral blue ammonia/hydrogen will help overcome this regional disadvantage.”

Last January, Saudi Aramco revealed plans to launch a new $500 million fund to promote energy efficiency and renewable technologies. Saudi Aramco’s investments in renewables follow several clean energy acquisitions from its fellow oil companies over the past few years.

According to a report by Professor Matthias J Pickl from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in Saudi Arabia, wind and solar sources are taking an increasingly important role in the energy industry, and that oil majors are positioning themselves progressively for the proclaimed energy transition. “Oil firms are essentially attempting to figure out how the best presently available cash cow in the world can be replaced for the benefit of their own sustainable future,” he pointed out.

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