Indian solar developer Acme Group and the government of Karnataka pledge to spend a total of 520 billion rupees ($6.7 billion) on a green hydrogen and ammonia plant in the southwestern state.

In a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed this week, Acme and Karnataka authorities laid out their ambition to deliver a plant that will produce 1.2 million tonnes per annum of green hydrogen and green ammonia by 2027.

Power for the project would be sourced from a dedicated solar plant, although Acme declined to say how much of the 1.2 million tonnes would be hydrogen and how much ammonia, telling Upstream’s sister publication Recharge that it is “in the process of discussion and finalising the details”.

The headline output figure would put the project among the biggest in the world for both hydrogen and ammonia production, but the scale will depend on how much of the tonnage is made up of hydrogen, the lighter of the two products.

Hydrogen makes up just 18% of the mass of ammonia, which is produced by combining Hydrogen with nitrogen from the air via the century-old Haber-Bosch process.

Acme chairman Manoj Kumar Upadhyay said the project would be one of the largest green ammonia projects in the world, adding: “We will be a formidable player in accelerating the adoption of the green fuel globally.”

Acme is already developing a green ammonia plant of comparable size, in Duqm, Oman, in partnership with Norway’s Scatec.

The first phase of the project aims to deliver 100,000 tpa of green ammonia, before scaling up in its second phase to 1.2 million tonnes with the help of a 3.5 gigawatt electrolyser powered by 5.5 GW of solar power.

The renewables developer has already developed a “semi-commercial scale” green hydrogen-ammonia project in the northern Indian province of Rajasthan.

Currently, the largest hydrogen-only plant under construction is Sinopec’s Kuqa development in Xinjiang, China, which is targeting 20,000 tpa by 2023 with a 260 megawatt electrolyser.

Karnataka, which has promised to help Acme with all permitting requirements for the hybrid project, is also launching its bid to become a hydrogen hub.

The proposed project’s output would count towards India’s nationwide target to produce 5 million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030 and to become a production and export centre for renewable hydrogen.

To this end, the national government in New Delhi has agreed to waive interstate electricity transmission fees for green hydrogen projects for 25 years and give projects priority status for grid connection.

(This article first appeared in Upstream’s sister renewables publication on 13 June 2022.)

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