Energy Transition

These Danish companies have an ambitious plan to create synthetic hydrogen fuels

hydrogen fuels electric vehicles

A group of Danish companies are planning one of the world’s largest synthetic hydrogen fuels production facilities. Image: REUTERS/Chris Helgren

Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Energy Transition?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Energy Transition is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Energy Transition

  • A group of Danish companies are planning one of the world’s largest hydrogen and synthetic fuel production facilities.
  • The project will use renewable energy to create low-carbon fuels for the country’s transport sector.
  • Bringing down the costs of such hydrogen fuels is vital to meeting climate targets.

A group of Danish companies are joining forces to build one of the world’s largest facilities producing synthetic hydrogen fuels. The unique partnership aims to help decarbonize the country’s transport sector by manufacturing sustainable alternatives to fossil-based fuels like petrol and diesel.

Participating companies include many of Denmark’s key transport and logistics players: Copenhagen Airports, A.P. Moller – Maersk, DSV Panalpina, DFDS, SAS and Ørsted. The vision includes generating hydrogen, an emissions-free alternative fuel, using electrolysis powered by renewable energy, as well as synthetic fuels for sectors which currently have limited low-carbon fuel options (producing methanol for the shipping or e-kerosene for aviation).

Fully scaled up, the finished facility in 2030 would have capacity to deliver 250,000 tonnes of synthetic fuel each year, to power buses, trucks, maritime vessels and aircraft, reducing annual carbon emissions by 850,000 tonnes.

As well as positioning Denmark at the vanguard of sustainable-fuel technology, the project could create numerous jobs and establish a mass-scale clean fuel model for others to follow.

Have you read?


Generating hydrogen fuels

In the project, hydrogen will be produced using electrolysis, a process that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The process of Electrolysis is used for hydrogen fuels production
The process of Electrolysis is used for hydrogen fuels production Image: U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

When an electrolyzer is powered by renewable energy sources like offshore wind, the hydrogen produced is emissions-free. Unlike fossil-based fuels like petrol or diesel, when hydrogen combusts it doesn’t produce carbon dioxide emissions.

Global demand for pure hydrogen, 1975-2018
Global demand for pure hydrogen, 1975-2018 Image: IEA, Paris

Although still at the planning stage, the entire Danish project will be powered by renewable energy sources, like offshore wind, and comprises three phases.

Discover

What's the World Economic Forum doing about the transition to clean energy?

The first phase involves constructing a 10MW electrolyzer producing clean hydrogen to fuel buses and trucks, which could be operational by 2023. By phase two, the electrolyzer facility will increase to 250MW, and hydrogen will be used to produce renewable methanol to power maritime vessels and renewable jet-fuel for aviation. This is done by reacting the hydrogen with carbon dioxide captured from sources in Copenhagen.

The final phase will upgrade electrolyzer capacity to 1.3GW – making the facility one of the largest of its kind in the world. Given the current plans, this could be fully operational by 2030.

Cutting costs of hydrogen fuels production

This sort of industrial scale is key to bringing down the cost of sustainable hydrogen fuels– and meeting climate targets, like Denmark’s moves to cut carbon emissions to 70% of 1990 levels by the end of the decade.

The group behind the project believe that to be competitive the production of these fuels will need to see similar cost reductions as offshore and onshore wind and solar.

Costs continue to fall for solar and wind power technologies
Competitive production of hydrogen fuels needs cost reductions similar to offshore and onshore wind and solar Image: IRENA

But challenges remain. The COVID-19 crisis has paused some countries' efforts toward renewable energy. Resulting economic downturns could create barriers to the types of investments needed to make these shifts a reality. Additionally, as the IEA explains, a broad portfolio of clean energy technologies will be needed to truly decarbonise all parts of a country's economy.

As part of its Shaping the Future of Energy and Materials platform, the World Economic Forum has set up the Accelerating Clean Hydrogen initiative to help overcome these challenges by helping forge new collaborations to scale clean hydrogen fuels.

Loading...
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Energy TransitionFuture of the EnvironmentElectricitySustainable Development
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Why the mining sector must dig deep to explain its move towards net zero

Katie Fedosenko and Luciana Gutmann

April 15, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum