By Lars Udby
Denmark gets advanced hydrogen factory
This spring, Hydrogen Valley/CEMTEC unveiled the news that the world’s leading gas producer Air Liquide, together with Danish and international partners, will build one of Europe’s biggest and most advanced hydrogen factories in Hobro. And on 4 April, the Danish Minister for Energy, Utilities and Climate, Lars Christian Lilleholt, cut the first sod for the new hydrogen factory.
Many people were present when the minister cut the first sod for the new hydrogen factory in Hobro – and with good reason. The day marks the beginning of a major international project and the construction of a factory that will deliver green hydrogen to the industry and transport sector.
Over a number of years, know-how and experience has been brought together in northern Jutland, particularly in the area of green gasses, due to the activities and projects that have been initiated by Hydrogen Valley/CEMTEC. But this project will really put northern Jutland on the global map. It is ambitious, and we are very proud to be part of the team, which in addition to Air Liquide also includes Hydrogenics, LBST and Neas Energy.
Balancing the grid and hydrogen for transportation
With this project, called HyBalance, we will be able to show how we can use wind power in the production of green hydrogen.
Wind power will be an important source of energy in the future energy system. The supply from renewable energy sources will gain more importance, and the share of renewable energy from wind turbines in particular is increasing. But renewable wind power is a fluctuating source of energy that does not interact well with our grid, which requires a constant delivery of power. During some periods, the wind turbines actually produce more power than the grid can accept – and that poses a challenge. When this is the case, we can either export the excess power or stop the wind turbines, which is both expensive and cost-intensive. Instead, with the HyBalance project we will store the excess wind power by converting it into hydrogen.
The hydrogen will be produced from water electrolysis, enabling the storage of renewable electricity. This will take place during the periods where it is very windy and the price of electricity is low. The hydrogen production will thus help balance the grid and ensure the future stability of the Danish electricity system.
The green hydrogen which will be produced can also be used for industrial purposes and in the transport sector. Hereby it will be possible to transfer renewable energy from wind turbines to hydrogen cars. Hydrogen cars are environmentally friendly vehicles which are quick and easy to refuel, with a long driving range, and on top of it all, hydrogen cars only emit water. Hydrogen cars are therefore good candidates as the replacement for our current cars, and they are in addition also free from Danish registration taxes until 2019.
Some people might wonder why the hydrogen facility is going to be located in Denmark. The answer is that Denmark has been selected for this innovative project because of its focus on renewable energy, know-how and hydrogen implementation in the energy system of the future. This will be an important step when moving from the dependence on fossil fuels to the use of renewable energy sources.
Hydrogen is part of the future green energy system, and it is very gratifying that Denmark’s competences and ambitions are acknowledged abroad.
This is especially due to the Danish energy strategy, which was formed in 2012 by the legislative majority in the national parliament of Denmark. The Energy Strategy targets producing at least 50% of the electricity consumption from wind in 2020, to eliminate all fossil energy use in the heating and electricity sectors by 2035, and to become independent from fossil fuels by 2050 by substituting these with a mix of renewable energy sources.
Denmark is also the first country in the world to have a connecting network of hydrogen refuelling stations. Today we have nine hydrogen refuelling stations spread across the country, and two more will open before the end of 2016.
Near Hobro in northern Jutland we also have salt caverns, which can be used for large-scale storage of green gasses such as hydrogen.
These circumstances make Hobro in Denmark an ideal site to build a hydrogen factory.
The facility is expected to start delivering hydrogen by the end of 2017.
The HyBalance project has received EUR 8 million in funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (FCH JU). FCH JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. The HyBalance project has furthermore received EUR 2.6 million in funding from the Danish ForskEL program, which is administered by Energinet.dk (see www.forskel.dk).
Read more about the HyBalance project at: www.hybalance.eu