ATOME enters feasibility agreement with Costa Rican state energy provider for green fertilizer project

February 15, 2024

ATOME’s Central America company, National Ammonia Corporation S.A. (NAC), has announced an agreement with Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), the Costa Rican state power company to evaluate the feasibility for the power supply to a green ammonia and fertiliser project.

“The agreement is the necessary and significant first step in securing 100 percent renewable baseload electricity for the country’s first industrial scale green ammonia and fertiliser project,” said ATOME, the AIM-listed green fertilizer project developer.

Costa Rica’s electricity grid is 99 percent powered by renewable sources. In 2016, the largest hydropower project in Central America with an installed capacity of 305.5 MW came online in the province of Limón in the central part of Costa Rica. Operated by ICE, the Reventazón Hydropower plant is located on the Reventazón River.

ATOME says Costa Rica has an optimal location for green fertiliser production with its existing renewable power and agricultural exports in 2023 worth USD$1.6 billion. However, the country is 100 percent dependent on the import of fertilisers, says the company.

NAC will likely be looking to access markets in Latin America and North America, including the west coast of the U.S., owing to Costa Rica having ports on both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. Europe and Asia were also given as possible markets.

Costa Rica uses a mix of hydro, wind and solar to provide electricity. Its transport sector is reliant on gasoline, which means that hydro, wind and solar provide less than half of the country’s energy consumption. The IEA puts oil consumption at 49 percent of the country’s energy mix, hydro at 15.5 percent, wind/solar 26.5 percent and biofuels and waste at 8.6 percent.

ATOME is planning to produce green ammonia, which usually refers to ammonia produced by water electrolysis and powered by renewable energy sources.

“The Project [in Costa Rica] is expected to leverage major advancements made at the 145MW Villeta Project in Paraguay, benefitting from key learnings and therefore optimising project development costs and timelines,” ATOME said in its 14 February statement.

The company does not specify the green fertilizer product planned for production in Costa Rica, although it does say the project will be a similar size to that in Paraguay.

On its website, ATOME describes green fertiliser as being “produced by combining molecules of green ammonia with calcium nitrate and granulating it to produce a green, low emissions fertiliser for use in agriculture. By using renewable energy to produce green fertiliser, this reduces the carbon footprint of fertiliser by 80-90 percent”.

ATOME intends to produce 270,000 tonnes per year of green calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN) at its Paraguay project.

There is no calcium nitrate production on Costa Rica. The country has a small amount of CAN consumption – around eight thousand tonnes per year, according to nutrient consumption data from the International Fertilizer Association. There is slightly more consumption in Guatemala. The largest nearby market for CAN is Mexico. South America markets include Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Ecuador with the largest being Brazil, which would be around 300,000 t per year.

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