Green hydrogen and ammonia are emerging as key components in the transition towards renewable energy. With surging demand for clean energy, renewable energy companies like Zhero are focusing on green hydrogen and ammonia production.

Co-founded by former ACWA Power CEO Paddy Padmanathan, Zhero is developing green hydrogen and ammonia projects in Africa and the United States. Padmanathan recently spoke at a webinar organized by Project Finance International (PFI) and highlighted the company’s plans to develop four projects ranging from 100,000 to 200,000 tonnes per year.

Padmanathan stated that two of the projects would focus on green hydrogen production, while the other two would produce green ammonia. Despite green hydrogen costing double the fossil fuel version, there is still a market willing to pay that premium, according to Padmanathan. Japan, South Korea, and California are all paying significant subsidies for the conversion to green hydrogen. He further added that as more big plants are built, costs will start to reduce.

The biggest challenge for green hydrogen projects is supply chain, rather than demand or finance. Due to surging global demand for renewable energy components, there have been delays and shortages, particularly in gigawatt-scale electrolyser capacities. Electrolysers are used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Although there have been announcements of gigawatt-scale electrolyser capacities, very little has happened due to the chicken or egg situation. Downstream suppliers want to see the contract signed with the demand dates, but it’s difficult to sign contracts without the supply being secured.

Zhero’s co-founder Paddy Padmanathan stated that his bets are on solid oxide electrolyser technology, bypassing Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology. On the cost of rare minerals, he said that the cost of all minerals spiked during 2022 but there is compelling evidence that by 2025/2026, they should start coming down. The initial demand crunch has led to more supply coming onstream, and the global recessionary environment is now pulling back on demand, positively affecting component availability.

Zhero’s co-founders include two ex-senior executives from SNAM, Marco Alverà and Alessandra Pasini, as CEO and President, and Enrico Vitali, a former managing partner of law firm Tremonti Vitali Romagnoli Piccardi e Associati. The Australian mining to new energy giant Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) is one of its investors.

Green hydrogen and ammonia have the potential to revolutionize the energy industry. Despite the initial premium costs, there is a growing market for these clean energy alternatives. As supply chains improve, it is likely that the costs of green hydrogen and ammonia will decrease, further increasing their potential for growth in the renewable energy sector.

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