Orsted explores renewable hydrogen, green fuels in Denmark

COPENHAGEN – At the Orsted’s construction site at the Avedore Power Plant located just south of Copenhagen, the Danish multinational power company is currently constructing a demo renewable hydrogen production facility.

As of 2022, two of the three wind turbines on the nearby coast will be used to produce renewable hydrogen in a small-scale pilot project – one of the pioneering projects for renewable hydrogen production in Denmark. “It’s a two-megawatt demonstration project to see how the wind turbines and the electrolyzers work together,” Orsted’s Michael Korsgaard told New Europe following a visit at the plant.

Renewable hydrogen – where energy for the electrolysis is from renewable generation, for example from wind or solar, comes with no CO2 emissions (0 kg CO2e per kg hydrogen). Renewable energy can be sourced directly from onsite generation, by co-locating electrolysis with renewable assets. Or it can be sourced from the grid, provided it can be assured the energy used is sourced from renewables.

Korsgaard noted that the two turbines will produce renewable hydrogen in this small-scale project and if it’s successful then they will use it in larger scale. “Hopefully, we are planning a larger plant out there which we call Green Fuels for Denmark which we plan to build in three phases and those phases are: 10 megawatts, 250 megawatts and 1300 megawatts,” Korsgaard explained. “We need to get some kind of societal support, through that some kind of subsidy to make a final investment on that project so the success of H2RES is, of course, important to us but we need to see a bit more in terms of realizing that larger project,” he added.

The project would be in the same area and produce green fuels. It will be renewable hydrogen, but it will also be e-fuels, methanol, and later e-kerosene.

Orsted has wider ambitions on renewable hydrogen and renewable fuels. The Green Fuels of Denmark (GFDK) brings together leading Danish companies representing the demand and supply side of sustainable e-fuels behind a vision to establish an ambitious sustainable fuels production facility. The project aims to establish a 1.3 GW elctrolyzer in 2030 powered by 2- GW offshore wind from the Bornholm energy island, which holds the potential to replace >270000 tpa. of fossil fuel consumption in 2030, equivalent to a 1.77% reduction in Danish CO2 emissions.

GFDK needs a good biogenic CO2 source – for example. biomass to energy plants.

The Avedore Power Plant is a combined heat and power station runs on a wide variety of biomass fuels such as straw and wood pellets.

“The Avedore Power Plant is biomass mainly. It used to be a coal-fired power plant,” he said.

Avendore is primarily as heat plant but due to high energy prices and energy shortages it is also sometimes producing electricity. High energy prices are also affecting this plant. “It’s a combined heat and power plant so normally it’s mainly used to produce heat. We produce more heat than we produce power but because of the rising power prices now we have been producing power with the power plant over the course of this past summer which we normally rarely do because there is no demand of heat,” Korsgaard said.

Making the switch away from coal, Avedore has become one of the cleanest plants in Denmark. “Because we use sustainable biomass the power plant is effectively carbon neutral when we produce heat and power with biomass because of the natural carbon cycle that relates to the growing of trees and electrolyzers and so on,” Korsgaard said.

Orsted plans to phase out coal by 2023. “We do have one power plant left in Esbjerg, in the western part of Denmark which we will shut down in 2023 and upon shutting that down we will phase out coal,” he said.

The Danish company is looking to produce energy for transport. “Right now, we produce power and electricity is used in electric cars so in that way you can say we are producing it for transport,” he said. The two-megawatt H2RES project that will produce renewable hydrogen for road transport in the Copenhagen area so the hydrogen from that demonstration plant will be used in transport. “There will be some learnings that we can use certainly in terms of what we learn from H2RES we can use in green fuels,” Korsgaard said.

Renewable hydrogen and e-fuels are of critical importance to curb climate change, Orsted Vice President, Hydrogen, Anders Christian Nordstrom has said, adding, “Without them, it will be impossible to achieve full decarbonisation – and the clock is ticking”.

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