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Rural study into ammonia-hydrogen production: final report


The aim of the study was to investigate the feasibility of storing renewable energy as either ammonia or hydrogen in Scotland. A key focus of the research was whether renewably-produced ammonia could have application potential in Scotland, as a crop fertiliser or for other purposes, as well as the application of hydrogen by-product for transport, heat and energy storage.


The research consisted of a review of existing literature and data in order to analyse the technical, economic and practicality issues surrounding the generation of renewable ammonia.


The report found that the generation of ammonia from wind is technically feasible through the use of electrolytic hydrogen and nitrogen produced from wind, and a high-temperature ammonia synthesis route via a Haber-Bosch type process. It was also found that some regions of the country would be ideal testing grounds for this, given the high wind facility and requirement for fertiliser on mixed/arable farms. It is suggested that farm-based ammonia production could facilitate a saving on the purchase of traditional fertiliser, and that the potential to sell ammonia to third parties as fertiliser represents another potential revenue stream for farmers. The report notes that the initial systems capital cost would be high, with payback in the region of 15-30 years unless a significantly large grid-connection cost saving for new turbines could be realised, however this cost could reduce in the future if the technology were to be taken up on a large scale. It is suggested that if this were to happen, Scotland could see a good potential return in terms of new jobs and investments, as well as moving the country to the fore in the emerging ‘hydrogen economy’, which may have implications outside of the renewables sector.


The report recommends that in order to test the feasibility of this concept, a small scale device (100-300kW hydrogen facility) should be taken forward in order to evaluate its practicality, at an estimated total capital cost of around £2 million. It is suggested that this device would initially be housed at an academic institution before being moved to a ‘real world’ farming location. It is recommended that the Gaurdbridge Energy Campus at the University of St Andrews and Mackie’s Farm in Aberdeenshire be considered as potential locations for this.

Author Ricardo-AEA
Published Year 2014
Report Type Research
  • Sectors
    Chemical sciences, Energy
  • Equity
    Rural Development