The HEVO Ammonia Morocco Project
Morocco has a large potential for renewable energy and has made some progress with the development of renewable electricity. In 2021, Morocco had installed 3,522 MW of renewable electricity capacity. This accounted for about 32% of the total installed capacity in the country.
Morocco is also a large producer of fertilizer. The OCP group corporation, owned by the Moroccan Government and the Banque Populaire du Maroc, has about 31% global market share in fertilizers. Morocco relies on imports of fossil gas-based ammonia for its fertiliser production. Morocco holds limited fossil gas reserves and is looking for alternatives. Morocco and Nigeria initiated a cooperation for building capacity in Nigeria to produce ammonia and other fertilizers using Nigerian gas.
Morocco is also looking for renewable-based alternatives such as renewable hydrogen and ammonia. Morocco has issued a green hydrogen strategy and a national roadmap. Among others, the strategy includes the following measures:
- The development of a national hydrogen market, inviting operators and investors to use clean energy based on green hydrogen;
- Ensuring the necessary financing for the development of hydrogen and associated production activities by strengthening international cooperation;
- The creation of a Moroccan and regional research and development (R&D) pole and to propose a set of pilot projects;
- The implementation of necessary measures for the local industrial integration of the hydrogen sector through the training of human resources and the transfer of expertise to Moroccan skills;
- The creation of favourable conditions for the export of hydrogen and its derivatives, with priority given to its export to Europe.
In July 2021 Morocco’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Environment launched the HEVO Ammonia Morocco project, with an estimated investment value of over $850 million. The facility is expected to 183,000 tons of green ammonia by 2026. Project developers include Fusion Fuel Green and Consolidated Contractors Group, while trading firm Vitol has signed a MoU to manage the offtake of green ammonia from the site. Fusion Fuel expects to supply the technology to produce the 31,000 tons of green hydrogen needed annually for the project. The ammonia produced in this plant is expected to be exported to Europe.
The facility will use HEVO, Fusion Fuel's proprietary miniaturized PEM electrolyser, which can be mass produced. HEVO electrolysers are combined with a concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar panel.
When developing hydrogen production based on electrolysis in Morocco, it has to be taken into account that water scarcity is a significant problem in Morocco and has led to local conflicts. Water is an essential resource for the production of renewable hydrogen via electrolysis and for every litre of water one cubic metre of hydrogen can be produced. Water scarcity requires the use of desalination plants for hydrogen production. The water from these desalination plants needs to be also used to supply municipalities close to the hydrogen production facility, to relieve water scarcity. Oversizing desalination plants for electrolysers to be able to cover the water needs of nearby communities could help obtain a “social license to operate”. The environmental impacts of desalination plants on maritime ecosystems and coastal use, however, have to be taken into account.