Energy islands in 2030: Tackling Bornholm’s CO2 scarcity in relation to Power-to-X

Green transition 16 February 2021 Eva Ravn Nielsen

The Danish Government recently approved the establishment of two energy islands by 2030 in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The conversion of the future massive amounts of electricity into other energy carriers through Power-to-X (P2X) technologies will play a key role in efficiently integrating the energy islands into the Danish energy system. But CO2 scarcity in relation to P2X is a challenge that has caught the attention of the Danish energy industry.

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As the Danish Government prepares to initiate the construction of two energy islands in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, exploring how to best utilise the energy islands and make efficient use of P2X technologies is essential for transitioning to a low-carbon energy system. Bornholm for example, is being considered as the most attractive and cost-effective location for producing hydrogen in the Baltic Sea however, the Danish island presents certain limitations on the further conversion to methanol due to CO2 resource scarcity.

The debate is ongoing

“It seems odd to have too much CO2 in our atmosphere, and still be lacking CO2 to produce green fuels, but carbon will be the limiting source for producing methanol on a large scale in Bornholm, and that is a fact that we face in our future energy systems”, says Eva Ravn Nielsen, Chief Consultant (P2X) at Ramboll. 

The point was made during the webinar “P2X in relation to Energy Islands” where opportunities and barriers of P2X technology deployment in relation to a planned energy island in Bornholm were discussed by major players across the Danish energy industry. 

Watch the one-hour webinar arranged by Energy Cluster Denmark and DTU here

The starting point of the discussion was the white paper titled “Optimal Placement of P2X Facility in Conjunction with Bornholm Energy Island – Preliminary Overview for Immediate Decarbonisation of Maritime Transport” recently published by the Technical University of Denmark, Energy Cluster Denmark, Bornholms Energi & Forsyning, Rønne Havn and Energy Modelling Lab. The white paper primarily focuses on where in the eastern part of Denmark it is most cost-efficient to locate an energy hub or energy island with a P2X plant connected to it. 

“This white paper is an important and thorough analysis that creates the basis for future investments decisions. Carbon limitation is a challenge and we should be careful not to waste carbon on solutions that can use electricity directly, hydrogen or ammonia, which is foreseen to be the winning energy carrier for shipping”, explains Eva.

What could the solution then be?

Lead author, postdoctoral researcher Alessandro Singlitico from the Center for Electricity, Power and Energy at the Technical University of Denmark, also present at the webinar, explained that a solution to carbon resource scarcity could be the production of carbon-neutral synthetic fuels with heat integration between P2X technologies, for example, by producing renewable carbon-based fuels as much as the waste CO2 from biogas and biomass facilities allows it, and then convert the rest of the hydrogen into ammonia, exploring the synergies between the processes. 

“Usually, it will be beneficial to place a P2X production close to the energy source, which in this case is the wind farm, but also close to where the product should be used, if this is possible. There will be a loss in power cables when transporting electricity over long distances. Likewise, there will be an investment cost when establishing a pipeline for transporting hydrogen over longer distances. The surplus of heat from the chemical processes should be utilised in the best way possible. This can be in district heating or in thermal integration of the chemical process equipment. It can be quite complex but the synergies when coupling different sectors is of great importance for a successful implementation of P2X technologies”, Eva adds.

The future calls for expert knowledge and collaboration

Both energy islands and P2X technologies will play a key role in decarbonising the Danish energy system, but for them to become reality an optimal setup based on the specific conditions at each location must be found. This calls for expert knowledge and collaboration across the energy, industry, and transport sectors. Ramboll has already been involved in over 20 projects dealing with hydrogen and P2X during 2020 and is currently taking part in concept studies, environmental analyses, and engineering design for integrating carbon capture with production of e-fuels.

 

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