Based on eight essential aspects, according to a study by Pablo Calderón Claure of Productora H2 Bolivia SA, Bolivia can produce hydrogen and green ammonia at competitive prices and replace natural gas in the medium term
Take advantage of the unique conditions of the Bolivian highlands, optimize the regulations and electrical system in the country, produce efficient renewable energy, produce hydrogen and then ammonia with renewable sources, gradually increase capacity, use industry, export and decrease Their price, the substitution of natural gas by hydrogen and a post-race system between private individuals and the state are the transcendental pillars of this project.
“For this we have carried out a study and are developing a real project for the production of hydrogen and green ammonia in the Oruro department, funded by the government of this department, Productora H2 Bolivia SA and with the support and work of banks, engineering offices and national and international energy companies”, said Calderón.
He later stated that the goal was to enter the new world energy map with the participation of renewable energies and at the same time reduce the consumption of gas in Bolivia and then eliminate it in order to profit economically from exports.
According to the Productora H2 Bolivia SA project, the global solar radiation map shows a potential in the Bolivian highlands that has not yet been fully exploited. The energy production rates in Bolivia are at least 50 percent above the average of most current systems in the world and reach up to 3,000 kWh / kWp, which is the highest value in the world.
With this in mind, they propose measures such as the allocation of energy from renewable sources to a transition system to change the energy matrix, carry out energy purchase agreements (PPAs) and carry out origin and origin certifications.
In addition, it is planned to establish battery-consistent power containment mechanisms for solar energy supply. An example of this is that Productora H2 Bolivia SA marks a storage system as a prerequisite for the inclusion of solar energy in order to guarantee equivalent performance for a few hours.
Calderón points out that efficient energy production means not only following a market model with a marginal price, as used in Bolivia or like all others, but also using the said model wisely in order to guide the way towards achieving the goal of the To be able to pave the way for change. a more sustainable matrix.
“The technology in thermal power plants that have installed excess capacities in Bolivia is state-of-the-art and highly efficient. They are combined cycles that are not used optimally not only in terms of utilization, but also in terms of their usage. The proposal takes a path that is not obvious, but doable and conclusive: to temporarily increase internal gas consumption and then replace it with hydrogen, ”he said.
He also said that, for example, the efficient use of hydraulic energy is possible without major effects on the marginal rate and that it is positive in the medium term.
“An exit of 200 MW hydraulic and the subsequent substitution with natural gas only increases the marginal rate by USD 0.5 / MWh, which means that the impact on gas costs is USD 8 million / year at local price or USD 28 million / year at an export price, ”added the specialist.
However, Calderón pointed out that if the gas is valued at opportunity or export cost prices, the benefit achievable thereby exceeds ten or three times, solely with a view to generating new taxes to which there is something to add
all the implications that the hydrogen and green ammonia project will have on jobs, investments, the generation of foreign exchange etc and, most importantly, start replacing the energy matrix to put natural gas aside.
“The equivalent energy withdrawn can be replaced by hydrogen production from 2026, but at almost four times the price of gas; however, from 2035 it can be replaced at the same price, ”he emphasized.
Hydrogen and ammonia
According to the Productora H2 Bolivia SA plan, the start will be possible with the construction of a green ammonia plant of 500,000 tons per year that can produce 100 percent with solar energy with batteries to power a 490 MW electrolyser for the whole day.
More than $ 1,500 million in investment, 10,000 new sources of work, and the creation of an economy around this business are planned; all of this for each of the plants that develop.
“This, in addition, with 200 MW of hydropower, improves the efficiency of the system and speeds up the process. The production of hydrogen and green ammonia will be globally competitive by 2025. The structuring of this project is already in the detailed engineering phase and in commercial progress, and it is attracting the most important energy companies in the world, ”explained Calderón.
He added that this will be the first of many plants Bolivia can bring to the international market, where by-products such as oxygen and drinking water are also expected to be produced.
Calderón pointed out that the construction of this facility and its subsequent extensions entail high investment and technical requirements.
“This system can, for example, demand ten times the power generation capacity of a solar source installed in Bolivia and also guarantee sales of lithium batteries that exceed current construction forecasts. It is possible to start a movement in the industry and produce solar panels and batteries on a large scale in line with government plans to industrialize lithium, ”he commented.
Although studies show that the price of hydrogen produced is globally competitive and better than most countries, it is estimated that the price of $ 3 per kilogram is much higher than the price of subsidized Bolivian natural gas for the domestic market.
Calderón commented that as assets are devalued, production technology improves, and the price of hydrogen and carbon stabilizes, that price will fall.
“By 2035, we will already be on the scale that will allow us to consume this source in our combined cycles and also make significant savings. For this reason, it is proposed to start this industry on the basis of exporting the product to the countries that pay the highest price in Asia and Europe due to their high energy transition costs. Once it is sufficiently accessible to the Bolivian economy, we will start replacing gas with this renewable source in 2035, ”he added.
Hydrogen by gas
Calderón said that this substitution must be rational in its phases. “With that in mind, we will be more efficient if we first change the country’s generation matrix, then move forward with other consumer goods such as industry or even vehicles. This exchange would take place in the main generation facilities and, in just a few steps, would mean that around 800 of the around 1,100 MW that we use every day can be replaced by a thermal source, reducing the proportion of renewable sources in our energy matrix to over 35. is increased to 65 percent in terms of energy, “he said.
He also emphasized that emissions neutrality can be achieved in the generation matrix almost immediately.
“Although the CO2 emissions of these systems in terms of efficiency per unit are low compared to other applications, they make up a relevant proportion of more than 25 percent of the total of 22 million tonnes that we emit. as a country every year, ”he added.
Calderón explained that all of this requires specific knowledge and high investments. His approach is therefore, on the one hand, to start a movement in this green branch of Bolivian and foreign private companies with this knowledge, the international bank interested in financing renewable energies, and on the other hand, to start with the state.
He warned that the strategic state-owned companies are focusing on their main activities and, above all, on the task of reversing the decline in gas and electrical reactive power, so that the private-sector approach to producing hydrogen and green ammonia will be much more developed.
However, the expert explained that increasing state participation in this area is being considered and it is even proposed to create a new strategic state entity (such as YPFB or ENDE) to help develop the initiative, acquire knowledge and subsequently Directed the development of the production of this renewable energy source in Bolivia.
“This will be another element of our collective endeavors to reactivate the economy, especially in an area of greater need like the Altiplano,” he said.