Green hydrogen-based fertiliser company Atlas Agro confirms to Hydrogen Insight that it is on track for a final investment decision (FID) on its Pacific Green Fertilizer plant in the US Northwest in the first quarter of next year, as it has already signed contracts for some of its offtake.

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“Part of the plant is under contract, part is covered by [letters of intent], and part is not yet sold. We are working closely with farmers and distributors,” the Swiss firm’s president for North America, Dan Holmes, told Hydrogen Insight.

However, while Atlas Agro has declined to provide further details of these agreements, Holmes added that the green hydrogen-based fertilisers will be “cost competitive with fossil alternatives on a delivered basis to target markets”.

Nitrogen fertilisers, while critical for increasing crop yield per acre of land, are currently made on an industrial scale from hydrogen derived from unabated fossil gas and have an emissions footprint of nearly 900 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

Atlas Agro, headed by a former CEO of fertiliser giant Eurochem, plans to use electrolysers running on zero-carbon electricity to produce green hydrogen, and source nitrogen through air separation, which it will then process into ammonia and then ammonium nitrate.

The Pacific Green Fertilizer plant, in Richland, Washington state, is expected to produce around 700,000 tonnes of fertiliser, in the form of liquid ammonium nitrate solution (ANs), liquid calcium nitrate (CN), and granulated calcium ammonium nitrate fertiliser (CAN), with first deliveries from 2027.

Nitrate fertilisers are generally more expensive per pound of nitrogen content than urea. However, the latter chemical needs its nitrogen to be converted into nitrates by soil bacteria before it can be taken up by crops.

Atlas Agro argues on its website that farmers nitrates will ultimately see “higher crop yields and quality, reduced environmental impact, and potential for green crop premiums”.

The firm has already contracted Spanish company Técnicas Reunidas to run a front-end engineering and design and open-book cost estimation for the Pacific Green Fertilizer plant, as well as EPC, should the project go ahead.

Atlas Agro has also this week secured $325m in investment from Australian bank Macquarie via its Green Investment Group Energy Transition Solutions fund.

However, this new investment has not affected the timeline for FID on its US plant, according to Holmes.

The Washington facility, which is expected to cost around $1bn, is expected to be financed via a combination of equity and debt.