Nestled within the green transition is Mariagerfjord, located near underground caverns suitable for storing hydrogen, and close to the “highway” of pipes planned to transport green hydrogen down through Jutland to Germany. Therefore, extensive research work has begun to map out the future production and consumption of green hydrogen in the area – including the economic benefits for producers and potential consumers from establishing a piped hydrogen infrastructure. Hydrogen Valley and the national gas distribution company, Evida, are among the project participants.
Hydrogen is becoming a crucial component of the green transition, as it can be produced using wind turbine power and can replace fossil fuels in heavy transport and industrial processes. Especially in Germany, there will be a significant need for green hydrogen for the steel industry, the chemical industry, and refineries. With the establishment of the wind turbine-based energy island in the North Sea, Denmark is expected to become a major supplier of the green gas to neighboring countries.
However, hydrogen production won’t only occur at sea. Around 50 land-based Power-to-X facilities, where solar and wind energy are converted to hydrogen or further processed into e-fuels, are currently being planned, under construction, or in operation in Denmark – of which 8 are located in Mariagerfjord and its vicinity. It’s not just neighboring countries that can consume hydrogen. A number of Danish companies are also expected to become customers for green hydrogen – including companies that will further process green hydrogen into methanol, ammonia, and kerosene, replacing fossil fuels in heavy traffic, or for instance, companies that will replace natural gas with hydrogen to achieve high temperatures in industrial processes.
Establishing a pipeline system is “the missing link.”
But how will the hydrogen be transported? Today, the majority of hydrogen is transported in pressure tanks on trucks. However, hydrogen requires significant space and needs to be compressed for transport in pressure tanks, consuming a lot of energy. In a future society with extensive hydrogen production, it is not practical either economically, energetically, or traffic-wise to transport the gas via roads – it should be transported through buried pipes, as we do today with natural gas and biogas. Natural gas for households will be phased out as part of the green transition, and some of the pipes can be repurposed for hydrogen transport. However, new pipelines will also be needed, and it’s crucial to determine where they are required.
There are significant costs associated with establishing pipelines, so we need a fairly precise picture of where we will see hydrogen production in the future, and which companies will consume it, says Anne B. Holm, business developer at Evida, who will oversee the pipeline distribution of hydrogen to consumers.
On the other hand, there are distinct advantages to establishing a piped hydrogen infrastructure – especially economically when large amounts of hydrogen need to be moved between producers and consumers. Producers also benefit by being able to produce hydrogen more flexibly and when electricity prices are favorable, and consumers receive a steady supply of hydrogen with piped infrastructure and storage capacity in caverns.
Based on this, Evida, in collaboration with Hydrogen Valley, Gas Storage Denmark, and Eurowind, has conducted an analysis and mapping of a potential future hydrogen landscape across a roughly 40-kilometer belt in North Jutland, which includes Mariagerfjord. The project is part of the overarching North Jutland project, CO2 Vision.
The big green button
The reason Mariagerfjord is of interest in a future hydrogen landscape is due to several factors. Firstly, the area is adjacent to the underground cavities in Lille Torup – so-called caverns – which have a very dense structure and are suitable for storing hydrogen. For the same reason, the planned “highway” of hydrogen pipes running through Jutland passes close to the caverns and through Mariagerfjord. Moreover, Hobro is a pioneer in Power-to-X projects with Hydrogen Valley, HyBalance facility, Ballard Power Systems, and Eurowind as key players.
Green hydrogen could become a vital resource in Mariagerfjord in the future. We have companies that can and want to produce hydrogen from solar and wind, and we have companies that can consume the green hydrogen if it can be delivered steadily and continuously through a pipeline system. However, a lot of infrastructure needs to be built before we can push the big green button. This infrastructure also includes CO2 transport. If we can capture biogenic carbon from companies before emissions and transport it to other companies that can use CO2 as a component to produce, for example, green methanol, then it’s societally better than depositing the carbon. In short, biogenic CO2 from, for example, biogas facilities should be used to produce green fuels, while fossil CO2 should be stored underground. We need pipelines for both purposes, says Morten Brandtoft, business developer at Hydrogen Valley, who has been working on business development and concept design within Power-to-X for 15 years.
Both Hydrogen Valley and Evida are interested in hearing from companies curious about the potential of using green hydrogen as raw material or high-temperature heating in their industrial production. The same goes for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint by utilizing their biogenic CO2 for green fuel production or storing fossil CO2 underground.