Rotterdam Explores Importing Norwegian Blue Ammonia 

Rotterdam import blue ammona from Norway
Artist impressions of the Barents Blue facilities (Horisont Energi)

Published Aug 5, 2021 5:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Port of Rotterdam is pushing forward aggressively to become a leader in the emerging hydrogen sector. Northwest Europe will have to import hydrogen on a large scale to achieve its goal of becoming net-zero on carbon emission and the Port of Rotterdam Authority is looking to create those supply chains for hydrogen and ammonia from countries where hydrogen can be produced and supplied cost-effectively. The port authority notes that already half of the Dutch projects developing hydrogen are centered in Rotterdam and their goal is to become the hub for northern Europe.

In the latest development to build that supply chain, the Port of Rotterdam will work with a Norwegian start-up, Horisont Energi, that provides clean energy and carbon storage services at an industrial scale. Together they will explore a collaboration to ship blue ammonia, produced in northern Norway, from natural gas with carbon capture and storage, to the port of Rotterdam. 

“There’s an important role for blue hydrogen if we want to realize the international climate ambitions,” said Nico van Dooren, director of New Business at the Port of Rotterdam.  In the coming years, he notes, “there will not be enough green hydrogen to meet the demand. We’ll need every possible solution. We, therefore, focus not only on green but also on blue, just as we don’t only look at local production but also at imports.”

Horisont is seeking to develop its production plant near Hammerfest in the northernmost part of Norway. The fully automated plant would draw gas from the nearby Melkøya LNG plant producing more than one million tons annual of ammonia. It would have a capacity to produce 600 tons per day of blue hydrogen and 3,000 tons per day of blue ammonia with the CO2 stored off Finmark, Norway. A final investment decision for the production of blue ammonia at the Barents Blue project is expected towards the end of 2022. 

Blue ammonia could be shipped to Rotterdam by 2025 and would be distributed to meet expected demand in Northwestern Europe. In addition to being a key industrial gas used in the fertilizer and chemical sector, ammonia is a very efficient hydrogen carrier. This makes net zero CO2 emission ammonia one of the most promising fuels for decarbonization of the shipping industry.

The port of Rotterdam is an energy hub port for western Europe, with some 13 percent of total energy demand in Europe entering the EU via Rotterdam. The port has the ambition to be net-zero CO2 emission in 2050 while at the same time maintaining its pivotal role in the European energy system. In addition to this effort with Norway, last week the port said it was also exploring hydrogen imports using chemical carriers. The demand in Rotterdam is expected to be up to 20 million tons of hydrogen, equivalent to 100 million tons of ammonia, in 2050, according to Port of Rotterdam estimates.