Green Fertilisers: Decarbonising Food Production
Today, the ammonia/fertiliser industry consumes more than 30 million metric tons of hydrogen annually, making it the biggest consumer so far. How can hydrogen help to decarbonise the food chain through green fertilisers?

Renewable hydrogen is not just crucial to sustainable ammonia production, but it will also help countries to reduce costs, boost capacities, and achieve their decarbonisation goals.

Ammonia is a key component of mineral fertilisers and contributes to half of the world’s food production.

More than 235 million tons of ammonia is produced globally every year, and this represents 1-2 per cent of the world’s energy consumption and around one per cent of all human emissions.

By making a business case for low-carbon ammonia, the industry will not only support the decarbonisation of food production but help to take a big step forward towards a hydrogen economy.

Transitioning to green fertilisers is a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint

Green fertilisers are sustainable as they are fossil-free, enabling industry to decarbonise the food system and reducing the dependency on fossil fuels.

As they are free from harmful chemicals and synthetic additives, they reduce the risks of soil and water pollution, protecting biodiversity.

Also, they align with sustainable agricultural practices by minimising dependence on non-renewable resources. They utilise these resources such as organic waste and by-products, reducing waste disposal issues.

In addition, green fertilisers will significantly lower the carbon footprint across the food value chain, from fertilisers to food. The use of green fertilisers in agriculture results in healthier food production due to the crops being free from harmful chemical residues, promoting safer food options for consumers.

Green fertilisers are a simple way for farmers and food companies to reduce their carbon footprint and that of their crops and food products, without needing to change their existing agricultural processes.

Switching to green fertilisers will reduce the carbon footprint of certain crops by between 10 and 30 per cent, for example, by around 20 per cent for wheat. While the carbon footprint of many food products can be reduced by 10 and 20 per cent, for example, by 12 per cent for bread.

By using green hydrogen, ammonia will be a zero-carbon product

There are many ammonia producers that have announced projects to make hydrogen. One of these is in Spain, where Iberdrola is working with fertiliser producer Fertiberia for a project where solar panels will produce energy for a 20MW electrolyser.

This electrolyser will produce around 5 per cent of the hydrogen needed for ammonia production in the fertiliser plant. By 2027, it plans to install 800MW of green hydrogen production capacity.

Another project sees Orsted aim to build a 100MW electrolyser based on wind energy to deliver hydrogen to Yara fertiliser plant in the Netherlands. It is said that the 100MW could produce 10 per cent of the hydrogen needed to run one of the two ammonia units of the plant.

Ensuring that all this ammonia is green is a huge task. However, by using green hydrogen as a chemical feedstock in ammonia production, the resulting green ammonia will be a zero-carbon product.

Yara is introducing fossil-free, green fertilisers that are produced using renewable electricity instead of fossil fuels. These fertilisers will be predominately made from water and air, resulting in an 80-90 per cent reduction in carbon compared to fertilisers made from natural gas.

These green fertilisers are the same as its nitrate-based mineral fertilisers but with a significantly lower impact on the environment.

Green fertilisers offer many benefits, including environmental sustainability, improved soil health, and the boosting of sustainable agriculture.

Hydrogen Industry Leaders are here to provide you with guidance through our multimedia platform and in-person events. These bring together the people working in hydrogen with the people looking to transition into the hydrogen sector for agriculture.

Join us at one of our events to gain valuable insights from experts, participate in discussions, network with industry leaders, and find out how you can explore hydrogen to benefit you.

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