Siemens is opening the world’s first facility in the UK to develop ammonia as a form of energy storage, the Guardian reported. The project received £1.5 million — nearly $2 million — in funding.
The proof-of-concept facility at Harwell in Oxfordshire aims to turn electricity, water, and air into ammonia without releasing carbon emissions, the Guardian’s Adam Vaughan explained. “The ammonia is stored in a tank and later either burned to generate electricity, sold as a fuel for vehicles or for industrial purposes, such as refrigeration.”
At the same time, the hydrogen in ammonia can be extracted. “I see it supporting a hydrogen economy, hydrogen vehicles,” Ian Wilkinson, program manager for Siemens’ green ammonia demonstrator told Vaughan.
Energy storage technologies are front-of-mind for Siemens researchers. Ahead of the 2017 Handelsblatt Annual Conference on the Energy Industry in Berlin, Siemens CTO Roland Busch and the company’s head of research for energy and electronics Armin Schnettler talked about transitioning to a new energy mix.
“Long-term storage systems are becoming particularly important,” they said. “One option is hydrogen electrolysis, which can be used to convert electricity into forms of energy that can be readily stored, for example hydrogen or chemicals such as ammonia and methanol.”
Earlier this year, Siemens and AES Corporation announced they planned to form a global energy storage technology and services company named Fluence, combining the two companies’ energy storage platforms with expanded services.
News about Siemens’ plans for a green ammonia plant comes after a Bloomberg report that the German industrial firm is mulling the sale of its flagship business making gas turbines for power plants.
“The unit, which produces giant turbines in Berlin, Charlottesville, Virginia and Finspong, Sweden, has suffered from a collapse in orders as the global energy industry shifts to renewable sources like wind and solar and away from large-scale power plants that run on fossil fuels,” Oliver Sachgau and Eyk Henning wrote.
Meanwhile, the new Harwell facility is scheduled to open on June 26, according to the Guardian. Vaughan reported that the plant received £500,000 (more than $660,000) from Siemens and £1 million ($1.32 million) from the government innovation agency Innovate UK.