In June, Young Suk Jo, Amogy’s Chief Technology Office gave a keynote address at Collision, a tech conference in Toronto, Canada. The conference brings together innovators from more than 100 countries to discuss the most pressing issues in technology today.
During the keynote, Young explored how the climate tech industry is leveraging $1.1 trillion in the United States and why innovators, investors, and governments should be looking beyond solar panels and wind turbines for renewable energy. Here are some of the key takeaways:
CleanTech Is Rapidly Growing
In the past two decades, $6.7 trillion has been invested in cleantech—and one-sixth of that total happened in 2022 alone. Cleantech is attracting more money and interest than ever before, in no small part thanks to the development of renewable energies. To solve the climate crisis, we have a responsibility to build a clean energy future that takes advantage of the latest innovations and technologies, rather than the limited options we’ve relied on for 20 years.
Over that period, wind and solar have rapidly decarbonized the United States electric grid, and renewable energy sources accounted for over 20% of total utility-scale electricity generation. And renewable energy is set to transform the global energy mix as the largest electricity source by the end of this decade. However, the fundamental problem with renewable sources is that there is a temporal and spatial discrepancy between supply and demand.
The Significant Drawbacks of Current Renewable Energy Sources
In other words, renewable sources are abundant in places where they are not commonly consumed and they cannot quickly be produced in places where most needed. That’s why we need energy storage solution technology for converting electrical energy into chemical energy. It is critical that we store, transport, and release excess electric energy when and where we need it.
A perfect example of this problem is how we use batteries to store energy. While many sectors have benefited from this energy storage method, it’s insufficient to decarbonize heavy industries such as maritime shipping, where conventional electrification methods are difficult to adopt due to limited energy density.
These limitations have sparked tremendous interest and investment in hydrogen as an alternative solution. Because hydrogen is carbon-free and it boasts a high gravity metric energy, it can be a great fuel for decarbonizing heavy industries such as trucking, shipping, power generation, and aviation. Given the clear need to decarbonize these essential industries, investment in the hydrogen economy has tripled year-over-year, making it the fastest-growing sector in energy transition.
But there is a significant drawback to hydrogen. As the lightest element in the universe with the lowest gas density, storage and transport are expensive and inefficient. Even if we can produce each kg of hydrogen at $2-3 dollars today, customers often have to pay more than $20 to use it as fuel at refueling stations, simply because of all the extra added costs coming from the problematic hydrogen logistics. In order for the hydrogen economy to be successful, it would require great investment in infrastructure to support it.
Why Ammonia is the Solution
Ammonia is a carbon-free, cost-effective solution that can carry hydrogen in the form of a liquid, bypassing the current problems of transporting the fuel. We can then convert it into electricity whenever and wherever it’s needed — at scale — without any carbon emissions. It doesn’t contain carbon in the molecule and can be produced from renewable sources. As a fuel, ammonia has more than five times higher energy density than a lithium-ion battery and is even higher than compressed or liquid hydrogen. That means under the same volume, we can carry more hydrogen in the form of liquid ammonia than hydrogen itself.
And another huge benefit is the established infrastructure. Ammonia is the second most traded commodity in the world, and we have used ammonia for more than a hundred years as a fertilizer and chemical feedstock. We already know how to store and transport ammonia, and the infrastructure for these processes is already in place. But no commercial technology could convert ammonia into electricity until Amogy came along.
Amogy Is Building the Future of CleanTech
Our process is rather simple. The ammonia is cracked into hydrogen and nitrogen, and the produced hydrogen is then fed into a fuel cell which converts hydrogen into electricity. While we produce hydrogen in the process, we are not dealing with the complicated logistics of hydrogen because energy is stored in the form of ammonia in dense liquid form.
Our core technology is nano-engineered catalyst material, scalable and efficient reactor design, and compact system integration. Think of it as Amogy shrinking this huge chemical power plant into a box the size of a cabinet. It allows unprecedented high energy density and efficiency without any carbon emissions, with water as the only byproduct.
More and more investors are interested in the next generation of cleantech and want to understand the future landscape. It is not just essential to consider new technology, but the ways in which the market is changing and policies are forming. With this in mind, ammonia is poised to solve the current and future pain points that cleantech is facing.
Watch Young’s full keynote here.