Some properties of ammonia make it suitable for use as an energy storage medium, a hydrogen carrier and as a fuel. Ammonia is the second most produced chemical in the world. Technologies for production, safe handling, transport and storage of ammonia are mature and global supply and distribution infrastructure already exists. Therefore, ammonia could form the basis of an integrated energy storage and distribution solution, and be a low-carbon fuel for power generation, transport and industrial processes as well as a valuable feedstock to produce fertiliser, explosives, pharmaceuticals and textiles.
Ammonia could be burnt directly in internal combustion engines (ICE), gas turbines, coal boilers and furnaces with minor modifications, or fed to fuel cells (FC) to produce electricity. Extensive research and development (R&D) is underway and developments in ammonia combustion technologies are progressing rapidly. Significant progress in cofiring ammonia and coal for power generation has been made in Japan and commercial demonstration of 20% ammonia cofiring at a 1000 MWe coal power unit is scheduled for 2023-24. Ammonia-gas cofiring technologies for gas-fired power generation are in development and could be commercially available by 2025. Several projects are ongoing to demonstrate ammonia-powered commercial shipping vessels in 2024-25. Analyses show that substituting fossil fuels with low carbon ammonia for power generation can reduce life cycle carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and hence, contribute to decarbonising the power sector. This report explores the potential role of ammonia in a clean energy transition with a focus on ammonia as a clean fuel. It provides an overview of existing technologies for ammonia manufacture, and the latest developments in low-carbon ammonia production. Recent developments in ammonia combustion technologies for power generation, transport and industrial processes are reviewed. The challenges and opportunities of ammonia fuel use, the potential CO2 emission reductions that can be achieved including life cycle analysis are discussed, and the impacts of firing/cofiring ammonia on electricity costs are analysed. Overall, ammonia has the potential to become a key element of a net zero emissions energy mix, especially in energy-intensive sectors such as power generation, transport and some industrial processes.