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Wind Energy Powerhouse Looks to Develop Green Hydrogen as Denmark Invests in Electrolysis Plants

published: 2020-01-22 21:00

Wind power accounts for nearly 50% of all electricity in Denmark, which leads the world in wind power per capita. Now Denmark is looking to develop another type of green energy – hydrogen energy. The Danish Ministry of Climate, Energy and Utilities is set to invest DKK 128 million (~NT$570 million) in the construction of two large-scale electrolysis plants, in hopes that the country’s surplus of green energy can be used to facilitate hydrogen production.

A major player in the green energy industry, Denmark is the first country to outline a large-scale green energy plan. It expects to do away with fossil fuel by 2050 and rely on renewable energy completely. At the present, wind power accounts for nearly 50% of total electricity generation in Denmark, up from single-digit percentage merely a few decades ago. At the same time, the country is looking to produce hydrogen with renewable energy.

The two aforementioned electrolysis plants are Skive-based GreenLab Slice PtX and Fredericia-based HySynergy – both located on the Jutland peninsula and both projected to finish construction within five years. According to the Danish government, the logical next step in Denmark’s energy transition is the application of green energy in fuels for transport. Through electrolysis, green hydrogen can replace fossil fuels currently used in cars and industries.

With the rise of renewable energy, green energy grid connections on a massive scale can destabilize the supply of electricity. In addition, Denmark faces the problem of processing excess electricity. There are many ways to store renewable energy. For instance, aside from storing it in lithium-ion batteries, electricity can be transformed into other energy types, such as hydrogen, through electrolysis. The hydrogen produced can then be used as input in hydrogen cells. Alternatively, during hours of peak electricity demand, hydrogen can be used to kick-start electricity generation in conjunction with natural gas.

Unfortunately, electrolysis is expensive. The most economical way of manufacturing hydrogen is through steam reforming of natural gas. However, this requires a high degree of processing and emits large amounts of carbon dioxide. As such, both the Danish government and large energy companies alike yet lean towards electrolysis. Case in point, Danish wind power market leader Ørsted was recently awarded a government subsidy of DKK 34.6 million (~NT$154 million) to build a 2MW electrolysis plant.

Ørsted will produce hydrogen with its two 3.6MW offshore wind turbines. The company forecasts a 600 kg daily hydrogen production, enough to power 20-30 fuel cell buses.

Recently, the Danish government invested €6 million (~NT$200 million) in the HySynergy electrolysis project, jointly undertaken by Everfuel and Shell, to build a large-scale 20MW electrolysis plant in Fredericia – perhaps the largest in northern Europe. At the same time, Everfuel “will also install hydrogen storage [and] trailer filling stations and operate hydrogen trailers to supply hydrogen fuel in Denmark” .

In reality, Denmark has been conducting ongoing researches into hydrogen applications, a primary example of which is the Hydrogen Valley. In addition to promoting the infrastructure for hydrogen energy and biogas, the main focus of Hydrogen Valley is HyBalance – the largest and most advanced electrolysis plant in Europe – based out of the town of Hobro. HyBalance is projected to have a charging capacity that accommodates about 1000 hydrogen vehicles. Furthermore, 70% of the plant’s hydrogen will be produced with wind power. The plant will demonstrate a complete hydrogen production and transportation process, from manufacturing to distribution and finally to end-use, with the goal of using the hydrogen for transportation and industrial purposes.

(Image:Flickr/JOHN LLOYD CC BY 2.0)

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