Greenland is blessed with plentiful resources available for the generation of hydro power. Over the years, the country has therefore invested in the development of this renewable type of energy, and five plants have been set up across the country. More plants could be established, but a key challenge in Greenland is that the potential sources of hydro power are located far from potential uses of the electricity.
A Ramboll study assessed if the production of e-fuel could be a way to put some of the country’s hydro power resources to new use and at the same time reduce Greenland’s CO2 footprint.
The study looked at using spare capacity at the Nuuk hydro power plant “Buksefjorden” to generate an e-fuel using carbon from CO2 captured from the waste-to-energy facility in Nuuk.
At the waste-to-energy plant, where Ramboll is acting as the owner’s engineer on the establishment of the new facility, capture of CO2 emissions from the stack would make the plant one of the most climate-friendly waste-to-energy plants in the world.
In addition to the introduction of carbon capture at the waste-to-energy plant, the production of an e-fuel in Nuuk would be based on the implementation of current plans to extend the hydro power plant at Buksefjorden and the establishment of a plant for the production of e-fuel using hydro power and captured CO2.
Specifically, the study investigated under which framework conditions producing an e-fuel in the form of methanol might be attractive. It was envisaged that the carbon captured from the waste-to-energy facility could be used to produce 11 million litres of e-fuel, constituting enough energy to supply two major towns with heat and power. This could reduce CO2 emissions from Nuuk by more than 10%. Greenland has a strategy to reduce its CO2 emissions and is aiming at carbon neutrality in its public energy supply by 2020.
The advantage of methanol is that it may be efficiently and safely transported to the remote towns where people and companies need the energy. Most towns are powered and heated by diesel generators or boilers, which can be converted to methanol hereby replacing fossil-based fuels with a carbon neutral e-fuel.
Potential for CO2 emitters
If further developed, the hydro power to e-fuel solution may have significant potential for Greenland, but also for other countries which are looking to make good use of captured CO2 emissions. Carbon capture is currently very much in focus in the power and waste-to-energy sectors internationally, but so far only few projects have been realised in part because of a lack of off-takers for the CO2.
With access to hydro power at low marginal cost and with few alternatives for using it Greenland may be well positioned to produce e-fuels. Also, power producing CO2 emitters that currently do not have access to a cost-effective production of e-fuel could be interested. They can put their CO2 to good use and Greenland could make an e-fuel for their own use or for export.
The study was carried out by Ramboll with financial support from the Ramboll Foundation as a gift to Greenland.