A chemical compound commonly used to boost crop yields could be the answer to helping the world increase its consumption of renewable energy. In a world first, Siemens is opening a £1.5m pilot project in Oxfordshire employing ammonia as a new form of energy storage. The German industrial firm hopes to prove that ammonia can be as useful as more established storage technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries, when it comes to managing the variable output of wind and solar power. The proof-of-concept facility at Harwell will turn electricity, water and air into ammonia without releasing carbon emissions. 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. Siemens believes ammonia has an advantage other over emerging storage technologies, such as “liquid air” and flow batteries, because it is repurposing existing technology and hardware. The world produces about 170m tonnes of ammonia a year, the vast majority of which is used by farmers as fertiliser. Most of that is made from natural gas, emitting greenhouse gas in the process, but the Harwell plant does not use fossil fuels.
Guardian 17th June 2018 read more »