World's largest green hydrogen project taps BCG for support

30 July 2020 4 min. read

The world’s largest green hydrogen project has formally kicked off in Denmark. The six companies leading the mega project have called in BCG and COWI to support the project.

On board with the project are: Copenhagen Airport; shipping giant A.P.Moller-Maersk; transport and logistics company DSV Panalpina; shipping and logistics firm DFDS; airline SAS and Danish energy company Ørsted. Also involved is the City of Copenhagen, while BCG and COWI have been called in for technical and project management support.

The task is to establish a 1.3 gigawatt (GW) electrolysis facility in the Greater Copenhagen area, capable of generating hydrogen from water in a process that will be powered entirely with offshore wind power. The “green” hydrogen generated can be used as fuel for heavy road vehicles, and can also be converted into e-methanol to power shipping vessels and e-kerosene to power airplanes.

The project will be an unprecedented stride towards reducing carbon emissions, given that heavy transportation is among the chief contributors to the global carbon footprint. While the electrification of vehicles across Europe is expected to go a long way towards reducing emissions, batteries are limited in their capacity to power heavy vehicles.

Green hydrogen facility, Greater Copenhagen, Denmark

According to officials involved in the project, green hydrogen is the answer to this problem. “In order to have a chance of reaching net zero by 2050 we’re going to have to find scalable decarbonisation tools for both road transport and aviation. One of the keys to getting these sectors on to a reduction path is green hydrogen,” said CEO of Ørsted Henrik Poulsen.

As a result, Ørsted is involved in a number of projects across Europe to develop green hydrogen facilities. The barrier for now is that using renewable means for electrolysis is much costlier than the traditional method that uses natural gas. However, the cost of offshore wind energy is expected to reduce in the near future, which has prompted many to see green hydrogen as a viable option.

According to a report by Strategy&, the green hydrogen market is expected to grow rapidly, with exported value to reach $300 billion by 2050.

In the Netherlands, Royal Dutch Shell is leading the development of a 10 GW offshore wind power facility that is expected to be supplying green hydrogen generation facilities by 2040. The new facility in Denmark will require 3 GW of offshore wind power, which will be sourced from a new wind cluster to be developed around the island of Bornholm.

Delivering the sustainable fuels of the future

At full capacity, the new facility in Denmark could reportedly reduce carbon emissions from transport by 850,000 tonnes, charting the course for green agenda leading European countries to meet the 2050 target.

BCG, which has been integrally involved in Denmark’s green efforts, is now tasked with getting the project off the ground alongside COWI. The aim is to open the facility by 2023, with a 10-megawatt (MW) electrolysis capacity that will power buses and trucks. By 2027, the facility will generate enough e-methanol to be used in vessels, while peak capacity should come into effect by 2030.

Maersk CEO Soren Skou revealed that the company planned to start ordering renewable-powered vessels by 2030 if it wants to reach zero emissions by 2050.

The Mayor of Copenhagen Frank Jensen said: “In Copenhagen, we’ve set the ambitious goal to become the world’s first carbon neutral capital by 2025. We’re already well underway – with district heating, wind turbines, great biking infrastructure, zero emission busses, a green metro, etc. But we need new, sustainable technologies to go all the way. This initiative brings us one step closer to a greener future.”