Several major Danish firms, including Orsted and Moller-Maersk, have formed a partnership aiming to produce sustainable fuels on an industrial scale.
The goal of the partnership — other members include Copenhagen Airports, DSV Panalpina, DFDS and Scandinavian airline SAS — is to establish a large facility that will provide fuels for maritime, air and road transport in the Copenhagen area.
In an announcement Tuesday, the companies said that a hydrogen and e-fuel production site could be up and running by 2023 and fully scaled-up by 2030, by which time it would have the capacity to generate over 250,000 metric tons of fuel annually.
It’s envisaged that the scheme’s electrolyser — the piece of technology needed to generate the hydrogen — will be powered by offshore wind installations. Under the plans, the size of the electrolyser is seen as growing from 10 megawatts at the start of the project to 1.3 gigawatts in its final stage.
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has described hydrogen as an energy carrier with “great potential for clean, efficient power in stationary, portable and transport applications.”
There are, however, some challenges when it comes to producing the hydrogen needed for fuel cells used in transportation. As the U.S. Department of Energy has noted, hydrogen does not usually “exist by itself in nature” and needs to be generated from compounds containing it.
A number of sources — from fossil fuels and solar to wind — can be used to help produce hydrogen through a range of processes including electrolysis and gasification. If renewable sources are used in its production, it’s dubbed “green hydrogen.”
If all goes to plan, the Danish project could provide hydrogen to public buses as well as trucks managed by DSV Panalpina; renewable methanol for ships operated by Moeller-Maersk; and e-kerosene for SAS planes and other air transport flying from Copenhagen Airport.
In a statement, Orsted said that the partnership would, “now move forward and engage in dialogue with the regulatory authorities on the framework and policies needed to support the development of using sustainable fuels at scale in the transport sector in Denmark, and to seek public co-funding to conduct a full feasibility study of the project.”
If the project’s viability is confirmed by the feasibility study, a final investment decision for its first stage could take place in 2021.
Hydrogen technology is already being deployed in a number of scenarios, albeit on quite a small scale. London is already home to a number of hydrogen buses while European railway manufacturer Alstom’s hydrogen-fuel-cell train started running in September 2018.
Major automobile manufacturers that have dipped into the hydrogen fuel cell market include Toyota and Honda, while smaller firms, such as Wales-based Riversimple, are also developing cars that use the technology.
Tuesday also saw Western Australia’s Water Corporation announce a project with Hazer Group to generate renewable hydrogen and graphite from sewage at a wastewater treatment facility.
In an announcement, the Water Corporation said the project would “produce around 100 tonnes of fuel-grade hydrogen and 380 tonnes of graphite each year,” adding that there was also the potential for expansion.