Published: 3 November 2022, 11:00 CET
Andel and Nature Energy are investing DKK 100 million in Power-to-X
A joint investment of around DKK 100 million in a Power-to-X plant will boost the production of Danish biogas. This is more crucial than ever, so that we can free ourselves from fossil natural gas and energy imports from Russia. Andel and Nature Energy are building the new plant in Glansager on Als, thereby expanding gas production.
Two of Denmark's largest energy players are now joining forces to make Power-to-X commercially sustainable. The project has the potential to be a vital step on Denmark's path towards a green transition and a fossil-free society independent of foreign gas.
The energy and fibre-optic group Andel and Nature Energy, the world's largest producer of biogas, are building a Power-to-X plant that uses surplus electricity from wind turbines to boost biogas production and reduce CO2 emissions. This happens in a process where, popularly speaking, water is electrified in an electrolysis plant. Here, hydrogen and oxygen are formed and the hydrogen is added to Nature Energy's methanation plant, where the hydrogen combines with captured CO2. This produces methane gas of the same quality as natural gas extracted from underground.
The project is a powerful example of how the Danish energy sector is working together to find new solutions to one of the biggest crises we face.
Electrolysis plant costing DKK 50 million
Andel is investing DKK 50 million in an electrolysis plant to produce hydrogen. Jesper Hjulmand, CEO of Andel, explains the background to the investment:
- Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world. It is imperative that we all make a greater commitment to reducing CO2 emissions. With the war in Ukraine, fossil energy threatens not only our climate but also our freedom. The green transition is an important weapon, and our efforts and contribution are crucial in this context. Our new partnership with Nature Energy is an example of how we can tackle one of the challenges facing the world through sector coupling.
Huge potential in biogas
Ole Hvelplund, CEO of Nature Energy, sees huge potential in biogas:- Household food waste and organic waste from industry are also renewable resources from which we can make energy. And biogas is needed in both heavy transport and industry, and it can be stored," he says, pointing out that "solar, wind and organic waste are the three natural resources we have available in the green transition.
In 2021, biogas accounted for about 25% of the gas in the Danish gas grid and the expectation is to achieve 40% this year, while the political ambition is to achieve 100% in 2030.
- Right now and for many years to come, there is a massive market for biogas both in Denmark and abroad because it replaces fossil natural gas and displaces CO2. Therefore, it's good for the green transition and Denmark's leading position in energy production and the development of future solutions that we now use Power-to-X for to increase biogas production, says Ole Hvelplund.
Jesper Hjulmand adds:
- Our involvement in the Glansager project is a desire to establish increasing interaction between different sectors of the energy industry with the aim of creating a more flexible and dynamic energy system with much better opportunities to integrate renewable energy sources. The reason we are investing in hydrogen is that it is set to play a key role in the production of sustainable fuels for the energy sector, for ships, aircraft and other heavy transport.
Hydrogen is also an efficient way to use surplus renewable wind energy when production is higher than usage, because it can be incorporated into Power-to-X technology and boost biogas production.
In recent years, Nature Energy first carried out laboratory tests with this form of Power-to-X and has since successfully operated a pilot plant at its biogas plant in Holsted.
With the Glansager plant, Power-to-X moves out of the experimental stages and to industrial scale.
Currently, Andel and Nature Energy are talking with the relevant authorities for construction and operational approvals. Construction is expected to start in autumn 2022 and the plant is expected to be operational in summer 2023.
A Beacon in the South
Part of the funding for the plant comes from Business Beacon South (Erhvervsfyrtårn Syd), where Steen Brødbæk, CEO of Semco Maritime and one of the initiators of the South Jutland Business Beacon project, welcomes the initiative in Glansager:
- Through the South Jutland Business Beacon, we are pursuing a vision to make South Jutland a leading centre for developing practical solutions for the integrated energy system of the future. Our companies and researchers already have many of the solutions, but they face a monumental task in scaling them up and making them more widely available. The Glansager project includes both thinking across multiple energy forms and an ambition to scale up the solution on a larger scale. That is why we are delighted that we at the Beacon have helped provide some of the funding for this project.
The Business Beacon in South Jutland is a collaborative project involving a number of organisations, businesses, universities and the municipalities of South Jutland. The Danish Board of Business Development has provisionally allocated DKK 105 million from REACT-EU to the Business Beacon for 13 test and demonstration projects and training initiatives in South Jutland focusing on the interconnection of energy forms and to better utilise the increasingly precious energy.
In relation to the establishment of the Power-to-X plant in Glansager, X-automation is developing controls and a cooperation agreement has been entered into with the University of Southern Denmark's Institute for Green Technology (IGT) on research into other CO2 sources that can be used in Power-to-X.
Furthermore, the project has entered into a partnership with the Danish government to ensure the long-term development of the Business Beacon.
Today, the Beacon project is anchored in the 'Committee for Green Energy and Sector Coupling', which was formed for this purpose.
Biogas is made by capturing the methane and CO2 released when organic matter decays. This process produces a biogas of 60% methane, which can be fed directly into the gas grid, and 40% CO2, which can be used in food and industrial applications, such as welding or dry ice production, or in Power-to-X processes.
Methane can also be formed by combining CO2 and hydrogen.
The hydrogen is created by electrolysis. When water (H2O) is electrified, it splits into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). The electrolysis plant can be operated flexibly, switching on when there is surplus power from the wind and sun, and switching off when power is needed elsewhere.
In this way, the Power-to-X plant also plays a crucial role in balancing the electricity grid, so that production and usage meet in the most economical and energy-efficient way.
The special feature of this Power-to-X plant is a newly developed trickle filter, where naturally occurring microorganisms from the biogas production create the green methane. In layman's terms, the bacteria eat CO2 and H2 and spit them out as CH4 and water.
The method was developed in a collaboration between Nature Energy and the University of Southern Denmark (SDU), and makes it much cheaper to produce green gas from CO2 and H2 than through a chemical process.