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Denmark: Large-Scale Production Unit Major Danish Firms to Develop Mammoth Facility for Sustainable Fuels

| Editor: Ahlam Rais

The large-scale project will produce eco-friendly fuels for the road, maritime and air transport sectors in Copenhagen, Denmark. On completion, the project is expected to become one of the world’s largest production facilities for sustainable fuels.

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When fully scaled-up by 2030, the project could deliver more than 250,000 tonnes of sustainable fuel for busses, trucks, maritime vessels, and airplanes every year.
When fully scaled-up by 2030, the project could deliver more than 250,000 tonnes of sustainable fuel for busses, trucks, maritime vessels, and airplanes every year.
(Source: A.P. Moller – Maersk)

Denmark – Copenhagen Airports, A.P. Moller - Maersk, DSV Panalpina, DFDS, SAS and Ørsted have formed the first partnership of its kind to develop an industrial-scale production facility to produce sustainable fuels for road, maritime and air transport in the Copenhagen area, Denmark. The partnership brings together the demand and supply side of sustainable fuels with a vision to realise what could become one of the world’s largest electrolyser and sustainable fuel production facilities. The project can spearhead the maturation of sustainable fuels while creating jobs and new value chains to reinforce Denmark’s role as a green energy leader.

The unique partnership has a concrete vision to develop a new ground-breaking hydrogen and e-fuel production facility as soon as 2023. When fully scaled-up by 2030, the project could deliver more than 250,000 tonnes of sustainable fuel for busses, trucks, maritime vessels, and airplanes every year. 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 production from the fully scaled facility can reduce annual carbon emissions by 850,000 tonnes.

COWI and BCG act as knowledge partners for the project, and the project is supported by the Municipality of Copenhagen in line with Copenhagen’s ambitious policies for decarbonisation. However, the partnership hopes that the project can, over time, act as a catalyst for similar projects in other parts of Denmark and internationally.

If realised as envisaged, the project will be located in the Greater Copenhagen Area and could supply renewable hydrogen for zero-emission busses tendered by Movia and heavy-duty trucks managed by DSV Panalpina, renewable methanol for A.P. Moller - Maersk vessels and renewable jet fuel (e-kerosene) for SAS airplanes and air transport out of Copenhagen Airports. The project will require a large-scale supply of renewable electricity, which could potentially come from offshore wind power produced at Rønne Banke off the island of Bornholm.

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Today, such sustainable fuels come at a higher cost than fossil-based fuels. To become competitive with fossil fuels, the production of sustainable fuels will need to be matured, built at industrial scale, and go through a cost-out journey similar to what has been seen over the past decade in other renewable energy technologies, such as offshore wind, onshore wind and solar PV. As an example, the cost of offshore wind has declined by approximately 70 % in Northwest Europe since 2012. For this to happen, governments and industry must come together to create a framework that incentivises private investments in large-scale sustainable fuel production.

Although several partners are challenged by the deep impact of Covid-19, the partnership’s long-term commitments to fighting climate change remain intact. The industrial partners see this project as a way to combine the dual objectives of accelerating the green transformation and providing economic stimulus to the Danish economy post the Covid-19 crisis. Denmark is in a unique position to become a hub for the production of sustainable fuels, creating jobs and securing a leading position in establishing an entirely new industry, which will be key in driving decarbonisation towards net zero in 2050, not just in Denmark, but also globally.

The electrolyser facility will not only be a potential cornerstone in decarbonising the partners’ businesses but will also deliver a critical contribution to reaching Denmark’s ambitious goal of reducing carbon emissions by 70 % by 2030 compared to 1990 by replacing fossil fuels in heavy transport with sustainable fuels. The vision of the partnership is to develop the project in three stages:

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The first stage, which could be operational by 2023, comprises a 10 MW electrolyser which can produce renewable hydrogen used directly to fuel busses and trucks.

Stage two comprises a 250 MW 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 (e-kerosene) 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 1.3 GW and capture more sustainable CO2, enough to supply more than 250,000 tonnes of sustainable fuels to be used in busses, 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.

The partnership will 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 feasibility study confirms the viability of the project vision, a final investment decision for the first stage of the project could likely be taken as soon as 2021.

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