Developer plans $2.5bn green hydrogen project in Chile’s Atacama desert

The Atacama is the driest non-polar desert on Earth (ESO/S Lowery/CC BY 4.0)
A green hydrogen project worth $2.5bn has been submitted for environmental review in Chile.

Mejillones Ammonia Energy (MAE) aims to develop the Volta production plant in the Atacama Desert, which has the lowest rainfall and highest solar radiation on the planet.

The plan is to build a 600MW photovoltaic plant with battery storage and access to Chile’s national grid, which in the north has a surplus of green energy in the summer.

That would be enough to produce 600,000 tonnes of ammonia a year.

Hydrogen is often shipped as ammonia because one ammonia molecule contains a nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms.

MAE hopes to sell green ammonia in Chile and other countries. A pipeline would take it 3km to the port of Mejillones.

MAE says it plans to start building in 2025, and to produce ammonia in 2027.

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