The rapid reduction in the cost of renewable energy has motivated the transition away from carbon-intensive chemical manufacturing and towards renewable, electrified, and decarbonized technologies. While electrified chemical manufacturing technologies differ greatly, the feasibility of each approach is largely tied to energy efficiency and cost. We show that photovoltaic-driven ammonia production must achieve energy efficiencies above 20% and the capital cost must not exceed 600 USD/kW. This equates to a solar-to-ammonia efficiencies above 4%. We also identify the optimal regions where photovoltaic-driven, ammonia production may be capable of fulfilling agricultural need. To account for growing concerns regarding access to water, the geospatial optimization take into consideration water stress caused by new ammonia facilities, and recommendations ensure that the identified regions do not experience an increase in water stress. Taking water stress into consideration was shown to only increases cost by 2%. We conclude that movement toward a decentralized photovoltaic-driven ammonia-based supply chain may result in an 86% reduction in transportation distances with only a 17% increase in production costs if technologies meet target efficiencies.
Additional methods and results.