Shell to build Europe's largest green hydrogen plant in Denmark

A partnership between Everfuel and oil and gas supermajor Shell is planning a gigawatt-rated P2X plant at a refinery in Fredericia, Denmark.
Photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix
Photo: Claus Fisker/Ritzau Scanpix

In a few years, Denmark might end up hosting Europe's largest green hydrogen plant in town of Fredericia in the western part of the country. Danish company Everfuel has entered a strategic cooperation with, among others, Shell Danmark to establish a P2X plant for an approximate cost of DKK 150 million (EUR 20 million) on-site at an existing oil refinery in Fredericia. The first phase will entail installing an electrolysis plant with a capacity of 20 MW as early as 2022-'23 – but the partners eventually aim to expand the facility up to 1 GW.

"Our ambition is very clear. We want to make hydrogen a competitive green fuel, and we want to do so as quickly as possible," says Everfuel Chief Executive Jacob Krogsgaard.

The plant's placement in Fredericia is no coincidence. Hydrogen is already used in the refining process, and the element is currently split from natural gas. However, installing an electrolysis plant will allow the H2 to be produced using renewable energy, which can be used when the price of electricity is low in the more and more frequent cases of generation exceeding domestic consumption.

Location, location 

The facility will, though, not only produce hydrogen for the refinery. The plan for the project, named HySynergy, is to install a containment unit to hold 10 tons of hydrogen for large-scale energy storage. Meanwhile, the hydrogen is meant to seep into the partner's conventional domain and be used as green fuel, initially for heavy, land-based transport such as buses and semi-trucks – and this is where the location plays a role.

"I couldn't come up with a better place myself. One thing is production for the refinery, which in itself is fantastic. But it's also a place from where all of Denmark, with the exception of Bornholm, is within 200 kilometers," Krogsgaard says and points out that the town is not only a hub for traffic but also for power transmission.

The latter point will become particularly relevant as the plant is to scaled up from 20 MW to a capacity up to 50-fold larger. In principle, though, there is practically nothing to hinder that target being achieved, the CEO states.

"The need is not there yet. But the selection is based on the feasibility of scaling up the plant. Both we and Shell have quite big ambitions for growth, and considering various foreseeable consumption needs, we can expand it all the way up to 1 GW."

Sound logic

That Krogsgaard sees potential applications for hydrogen is not new. Ever since he, at a rather young age, founded H2 Logic in 2003, which Nel absorbed in 2015, the CEO has worked to promote the technology. Now with Everfuel, which he established a few months back with DKK 48 million gleaned from selling Nel equity. The Danish-Norwegian hydrogen firm is also a stakeholder in Everfuel.

This year has been particularly eventful in terms of raising awareness to the potential of hydrogen. Politicians from, for instance, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden are increasingly looking toward the technology as an opportunity to both build up a new industry as well as help to solve the problem of greenhouse gas emissions from sectors such as transportation and agriculture. So, in this sense, the project also seems well timed in regard to the political climate.

"It may be that hydrogen is one of the hottest topics of late. But as we've said for a long time, it's also the [technological solution, -ed.] with most sound logic," the CEO says and continues:

"But I want to acknowledge the [Danish,-ed.] government's highly ambitious goal to reduce emissions by 70 percent, and one of the best things about it that that they don't know how [to accomplish the reduction, -ed]. Because this forces the entire state machinery out of its comfort zone. This is state innovation, and it will result in the logical conclusion that we must figure out how to store renewable energy."

Require millions in support

However, the syllogism has a flawed premise – as most real estate agents would likely concede, location is indeed important, but only the fewest buyers are oblivious to the final price.

The fact that the initial 20MW facility could become Europe's largest in 2022 would also imply that green hydrogen plants aren't popping up everywhere across the continent, which is because the price is still far higher than gray H2 sourced from natural gas for the green variant to be profitable in its own right.

Much of the financing for the HySynergy project is conditional on the partners securing subsidies through the Danish Energy Agency's energy storage pool, for which the two companies applied last month. Moreover, another portion of the capital comes from the approximately DKK 8 million that Everfuel received last month from another pool for its project H2Bus Europe, whose goal is launch 600 hydrogen-powered buses in Denmark, Latvia and the UK – a project that also floats because of public aid from, among others, the EU's CET fund.

Krogsgaard has no doubt that the concept will end up being viable, however.

"The aim is straightforward: The technology works, and now we need the business plan to work. This is the starting shot of that," he says, adding:

"Furthermore, there are also even more synergies than we will disclose right now. There are other partners involved in the project, which we are waiting to announce until the project is launched. When this happens, the project will appear even more logical."

English Edit: Daniel Frank Christensen

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