Danish large-scale project plans using offshore wind power to deliver sustainable aviation e-fuels by 2030
Fri 5 June 2020 – A partnership of Danish green energy and transport organisations, including Copenhagen Airports and SAS, has been formed to explore the potential for a ground-breaking hydrogen and e-fuel production facility as soon as 2023. When fully scaled by 2030, using renewable electricity, the Power-to-X project could deliver more than 250,000 tonnes of sustainable fuel for buses, trucks, maritime vessels and airplanes. Production would potentially be based on a total electrolyser capacity of 1.3 gigawatts, which would likely make it one of the world’s largest facilities of its kind. The requirement for a large-scale supply of renewable electricity could potentially come from offshore wind power produced at Rønne Bank off the island of Bornholm. The partners are seeking public co-funding to conduct a full feasibility study of the project.
As well as Copenhagen Airports and SAS, other partners include A.P. Moller – Maersk, DSV Panalpina, DFDS and green energy company Ørsted. COWI and BCG are acting as knowledge partners for the project, which would be located in the Greater Copenhagen area and is being supported by the Municipality of Copenhagen.
Although impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the partners said their long-term commitment to fighting climate change remained intact and the project would combine the dual objectives of accelerating the green transformation and providing economic stimulus to the Danish economy post-crisis.
“Whether we operate in road transport, shipping or aviation, we all have a major task to contribute to the sustainable transition in Denmark,” commented Thomas Woldbye, CEO of Copenhagen Airports. “The challenge of creating a future-proof and sustainable fuel is common to everyone in the transport sector, and the fact that we are now working together in a partnership is crucial for us to be able to produce sustainable fuel in the necessary quantities. It also supports the ambition to transition Danish aviation to become completely free of carbon emissions in 2050 and make Denmark a pioneer in the development of future climate-friendly fuels.”
The partners envision developing the project in three stages. The first stage, which could be operational by 2023, comprises a 10MW electrolyser to produce renewable hydrogen used directly to fuel buses and trucks.
Stage two comprises a 250MW electrolyser facility which could be operational by 2027 when the first offshore wind power from Bornholm could be delivered. This facility would combine the production of renewable hydrogen with sustainable carbon capture from point-sources in the Greater Copenhagen area to produce renewable methanol for maritime transport and renewable jet fuel for the aviation sector.
Stage three, which could be operational by 2030 when the offshore wind potential at Bornholm has been fully developed, would upgrade the project’s electrolyser capacity to 1.3GW and capture more sustainable CO2, enough to supply more than 250,000 tonnes of sustainable fuels to be used in buses, trucks, maritime vessels and airplanes. The project has the potential to displace 5% of fossil fuels at Copenhagen Airport by 2027 and 30% by 2030, claim the partners.
They pointed out the cost of offshore wind in north-west Europe had declined by around 70% since 2012 but sustainable fuels still came at a higher cost than fossil fuels. To be cost-competitive, they said, governments and industry would have to come together to create a framework that incentivised private investments in large-scale sustainable fuel production.
The partners will now engage with regulatory authorities on the framework and policies needed to support the development of sustainable fuels at scale in the Danish transport sector. If the feasibility study confirmed the viability of the project, they expect a final investment decision for the first stage could be taken as soon as 2021.
“With the right policy framework in place, this project could be a defining leap forward for the production of sustainable fuels in Denmark, which will further reinforce Denmark’s role as a global leader in technologies and business models for a sustainable future,” said Henrick Poulsen, CEO of Ørsted, which claims to have built more offshore wind farms than any other developer in the world.
Added Simon Pauck Hansen, EVP and COO of Airline Operations, SAS: “The infrastructure aviation enables has a significant contribution to the global society. SAS has very ambitious targets to reduce its climate-affecting emissions and one of the key drivers is to use sustainable aviation fuels. We support multiple initiatives and projects in our home market and hope that this project can commercialise and become an accelerator for the transition to decarbonised aviation.”