The Danish Consulate of New York hosted a roundtable on Hydrogen and Offshore wind in NYC this week. Hosted by Ambassador Berit Basse, the agenda included speakers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Invest in Denmark team, the Danish Energy Agency, and COWI, the lead consultancy behind the government’s hydrogen infrastructure master plan. While nominally held to attract US companies to the Danish market, it was an incredibly valuable and eye-opening event, attended by a variety of US companies from across the value stack – from a container manufacturer to finance providers and more.
I would argue that the Danish approach to hydrogen is the most comprehensive and possibly the most ambitious of any nation I’ve seen, including the US with the DOE’s Hydrogen Shot program and of course the IRA. Why?
Starting with the end in mind: Denmark aspires to be the #1 producer of green hydrogen in Europe, with announced projects of ~17GW of electrolysis capacity. To get there, Denmark plans…
- The Backbone. The government is funding a massive hydrogen pipeline backbone throughout the peninsular section of the country, known as Jutland. (yes, Jeopardy watchers wish they’d known about Jutland a few weeks ago when it was the final Jeopardy answer.)
- The Storage. The pipeline backbone connects the major proposed production sites and the Lille Thorup salt cavern for H2 storage, to ….
- The Offtake. Denmark and Germany have signed a major treaty for Denmark to supply up to 25% of Germany’s green hydrogen demand (projected to be the largest in Europe based on the steel, chemical, and refining industries in Germany.)
- The Islands. The Danish plan includes not one, but two energy islands for H2 production. These are literal islands. In the sea. One, the island of Bornholm in the Baltic, is an existing natural island. The second will be an artificial island ~100km off the west coast of Jutland in the North Sea.
- The Wind. These islands will serve as collection sites for energy from vast offshore wind resources. The area over which the wind turbines surrounding the North Sea artificial island will span is 2x the size of Rhode Island.
- The DC Interconnect. There actually will be three islands in the North Sea, and planning includes HVDC connections among them and back to the mainland. But, given that it costs roughly 4x to transport electricity as hydrogen (normalized by energy value), much or most of the wind energy delivered to the islands will be converted to hydrogen and piped or taken by tanker.
- The Private Offtake. In addition to the massive offtake agreement with Germany, the Danes have a large built-in private offtaker: the world’s largest shipping company, Maersk, which currently has orders for 19 methanol powered container ships.
As the Danes are keen to point out, there is and will be no blue, gray, or pink H2 production in Denmark; just green. It helps that already, today, 57% of electricity on the Danish grid is wind, and 6% is from solar. By 2028, 100% of the grid will be powered by renewables. That’s not a typo. (Take that California! And, yes, it begs the question: shouldn’t all modern grid operators have to study the Danish grid?)
Danish folklore is that the reason the Norwegians and Brits made out so well in the division of the North Sea oil fields is that the Danish negotiator was, well, not entirely sober during the negotiations. Fast forward to today, and it appears the Danes have made out the best of the lot in terms of the North Sea energy resource of the future: wind. Danish North Sea territory has both the most consistent winds and a relatively shallow shelf.
I had a chance to meet with different teams at Orsted – the Danish version of NextEra – last month, and it’s clear that they are laser-focused on participating in and driving this supercharged acceleration to a renewables and hydrogen-based energy economy. (Fun fact that Maria Hilligsøe of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs shared: 6 of the world’s top 50 green companies are Danish. Orsted was #1 in 2020.)
Of course, Denmark is but one of many countries making concrete plans and investments in a green hydrogen future. But pound for pound, they may very well top the list, which is why Dynapower is so excited to be working with our Danish partners.