Unigel – one of the largest chemical companies in Latin America and the country’s largest manufacturer of nitrogen fertilizers – reinforces its status as a pioneer in the green hydrogen market, as the first company in Brazil to produce the input on an industrial scale.
The company has just announced new investments related to this, which is the country’s first industrial-scale project, with projections that reach US$ 1.5 billion (R$ 7.8 billion, at current prices). Other pilot projects exist in the country, such as in the states of Ceará and Rio de Janeiro, all on an experimental basis.
Unigel factory will be a pioneer in the country in the production of the raw material on a large scale. By 2027, the installed capacity will be 100 thousand tons per year of green hydrogen
Unigel’s hydrogen plant will have investments in three phases (see more details in the table below). In the first stage of the project, already under construction, the company is investing US$ 120 million and will rely on high-efficiency electrolysis technology from the German thyssenkrupp nucera.
“We have numerous differentials that allow us to lead Brazil towards the green hydrogen and ammonia economy. First, Unigel already has enough ammonia production capacity to use green hydrogen. In addition, we have access to infrastructure and clean and competitive energy sources at the Camaçari Petrochemical Complex. Finally, Unigel also operates one of the only two ammonia terminals in Brazil, located in the port of Aratu, also in Bahia”, highlights Roberto Noronha Santos, CEO of Unigel.
At the present time, Unigel continues to negotiate strategic partnerships and adequate financing lines and even access to the capital market through an IPO to guarantee competitiveness and the realization of the new phases of the project, in addition to growing on other strategic fronts of the company.
Noronha reinforces that the undertaking mainly carries the effective action around the decarbonization process. “We have followed what has become a real race for the nickname of pioneer in the market. However, it is extremely important to differentiate each initiative. We have the only industrial-scale project under construction in Brazil. Located in Camaçari, in the state of Bahia, our factory should be inaugurated by the end of this year. Unigel and Bahia lead Brazil’s pioneering approach to green hydrogen,” he explains.
This investment had as its initial stage the signing of a protocol of intentions, at the end of 2021, between the Government of Bahia, through the Secretariat for Economic Development (SDE) and Unigel. Subsequently, in April 2022, the State Plan for the Green Hydrogen Economy (PLH²V) was instituted by means of a Decree and, in July of the same year, the cornerstone of the company’s plant in Camaçari was laid. An investment that, for the governor of Bahia, Jerônimo Rodrigues, is proof of respect for the environment. “Working to bring this project to fruition is our responsibility and we are sure that Bahia is prepared to place Brazil in the pioneering role and in the leading role in investments in parks that produce clean energy. This demonstrates our permanent commitment to the future of the planet,” he said.
Unigel’s business plan indicates that, as soon as the operation begins, the products will be offered to customers who find green hydrogen and green ammonia an important solution to their decarbonization challenges. Among the applications are the use of hydrogen in mobility, as fuel for various types of vehicles, and as a raw material in the steel industry and oil refining. Green ammonia should also be used as fuel, especially by bulk carriers and container ships. In addition, green ammonia may strengthen Unigel’s portfolio of sustainable products, since it is a raw material in the manufacture of fertilizers and acrylics.
Noronha completes that, in addition to the Unigel project, real and joint actions will make Brazil even more expressive in the clean energy market. “Given the country’s potential in wind and solar energy generation, I believe there is a great opportunity to be a reference for the world in green hydrogen, a solution that brings versatility by transforming renewable energy into Zero Carbon raw materials and fuels”, he concludes.