The first major green hydrogen project to exclusively target the transport sector was revealed in Denmark on Tuesday.
Offshore wind market leader Ørsted will work in and around Copenhagen to decarbonize transport on land, at sea and in the air, partnering with end users including the shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk and Scandinavian airline SAS.
The project would initially use a 10-megawatt electrolyzer to generate green hydrogen for fleet buses and trucks. Power would be drawn from the Danish island of Bornholm, around which Ørsted hopes to develop a 5-gigawatt offshore wind cluster.
The first stage of the sustainable fuels project is now jumping through initial regulatory hoops and looking for public funding to back a feasibility study. A final investment decision on phase one could be made next year.
The second phase, targeting completion in 2027, jumps the scale of the electrolyzers up to 250 megawatts. The renewable hydrogen would be combined with captured carbon from emission sources around Copenhagen to create hydrocarbon fuels — specifically, methanol for shipping and e-kerosene as a jet fuel replacement.
Ferry operator DFDS, Copenhagen Airport and logistics company DSV Panalpina are also taking part in the project and would join Maersk and SAS as major users of the fuels.
The third and final stage would use 1.3 gigawatts of electrolyzer capacity to increase the production capacity of the various sustainable fuels by 2030. At that point, it is estimated that 30 percent of the fossil fuel use at Copenhagen airport could be displaced.
Denmark has a 2030 target to reduce emissions by 70 percent compared to 1990 levels.
"Decarbonizing the road, maritime, and aviation sectors is key to bringing our economies around the world to net-zero emissions by 2050,” said Ørsted CEO Henrik Poulsen in a statement, adding that the project provides the scale necessary to make “renewable fuels competitive with fossil fuels.”
Ørsted’s Bornholm energy island plan sits at the heart of the proposals. The island lies in the Baltic Sea, with Sweden to the north and Germany, Poland and the Baltic States to the south.
Ørsted proposes using power from the three Rønne Banke Danish wind tenders, off the west coast of the island, to power the Copenhagen electrolyzers.
Last week the Danish government approved a new plan for 2 gigawatts of offshore wind around Bornholm and 2 gigawatts centered around an artificial island. The latter's capacity could be scaled to 10 gigawatts.
Ørsted, however, has said the country needs bigger plans, arguing last year that a 5-gigawatt hub around Bornholm could supply power to Denmark and neighboring nations.
First major green hydrogen plan dedicated to transport
The Danish green hydrogen project differs from many others on the drawing board in that the end uses are all for transport, rather than refining or chemicals like the majority of announced plans so far.
A string of green hydrogen and carbon capture proposals have been announced in Northern Europe in the past year. These typically link port facilities and industrial clusters with a supply and pipeline of green hydrogen from offshore wind, or blue hydrogen from a fossil-fuel plant using carbon capture and storage.
One project in the U.K. proposes using the Drax biomass facility with carbon capture to create a negative emissions cluster.
After a spate of project announcements in the past two years, plans now appear to be getting more concrete. Shell’s Dutch project was announced in February as a feasibility study; in May it confirmed it had participated in the country’s offshore wind tender with a view to using the power for the hydrogen facility.
Timelines are also sliding forward. The Drax plan was announced in November 2019 with a view to “explore the potential” of a large hydrogen demonstrator by the mid-2020s.
Shell hopes to be running a hydrogen operation in Rotterdam by 2023. The Belgian Port of Ostend is also targeting a commercial operation by 2025. Its first phase will use a 50-megawatt electrolyzer.