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ENERGY

Norwegian fertiliser maker Yara steps into green energy

Norwegian fertiliser maker Yara steps into green energy

The company said it was creating a new business unit, dubbed “Yara Clean Ammonia,” in order “to capture growth opportunities within carbon-free food solutions, shipping fuel and other clean ammonia applications.”

The base component for nitrogen fertiliser, the compound of nitrogen and hydrogen is an efficient vector for energy storage and distribution.

It can be used to extract hydrogen but also directly as a carbon neutral fuel in thermal power plants and industrial furnaces.

Yara is working on a pilot project to produce what it calls clean ammonia at a plant in Porsgrunn, southeastern Norway, that is now fuelled by natural gas.

The company aims to connect the plant to the Norwegian power grid, which relies primarily on hydroelectric power, on condition that it qualifies for public subsidies.

The fertiliser producer made the announcement as it published its financial results for 2020, which held up well despite the impact caused by Covid-19. 

In 2020, net profit was $691 million (571 million euros), compared to $599 million a year earlier, despite a 9.3 percent drop in turnover to $11.73 billion. 

Excluding special items, gross operating profit (EBITDA) was virtually unchanged at $2.16 billion, as lower gas prices, increased deliveries of high-end products and a stronger dollar offset lower prices and slightly higher costs, the company explained. 

Shares in Yara were trading up by around 1.3 percent in morning deals on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

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ENERGY

Could the Norwegian government introduce a cap on energy prices? 

Due to soaring prices, the Norwegian government is mulling over several solutions, including a potential price cap for electricity and limiting energy exports abroad. 

Could the Norwegian government introduce a cap on energy prices? 

High energy exports in the last 12 months, low filling levels in Norwegian reservoirs and an uncertain energy situation around Europe have led to soaring electricity prices in southern Norway. 

Last year the government introduced a scheme whereby it covers 80 percent of consumers’ energy bills where the price rose above 70 øre/kWh. The portion of the bill under 70 øre is paid in full by households. The portion the government covers will increase to 90 percent in October. 

Critics have argued that the current scheme still leaves households struggling with their bills. As a result, Norway’s government has said it is mulling its options to curb energy bills.

Norway primarily depends on hydroelectric dams to help it meet its energy needs. Still, reservoirs in southern Norway have been at the lowest level for ten years, public broadcaster NRK reports. 

Low reservoir filling over the past year has conceded with record exports with higher prices on the continent, making sending power abroad an enticing proposition.

Recently, exports have fallen significantly, and the government is considering introducing a limit to reduce the possibility of energy rationing being introduced this winter. 

“Restrictions on the export of electricity to Europe may be one of the measures that is needed,” Elisabeth Sæther, state secretary at the Ministry of Oil and Energy, told NRK. 

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre ruled out completely shutting off exports to the continent. 

“It is a dangerous thought and will not serve us well. It could give us more expensive power and lack of power in given situations. We will hardly be able to import power when we need it without contributing to other countries when they need it. There is a reciprocity in this,” he told the newspaper Aftenposten earlier in the week. 

Sæther also told NRK that the government was weighing up putting a maximum price on energy but warned that it could have unforeseen consequences. 

“We are afraid that a maximum price means that more water is drawn into the reservoirs, which we need for the winter. It is a serious situation. We must prevent ourselves from getting into a situation where we lack enough power this winter,” she told the broadcaster. 

At the end of May, the state-owned Statnett announced that the supply situation in Norway might be under strain – in some scenarios – all the way up to and through the winter, especially if Southern Norway experiences drier than usual weather in the second part of the year. 

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