History is being written in West Jutland with the construction of a pioneering Power-to-X plant. Such plants are intended to give a boost to the green transition, allowing wind or solar energy to be stored in other more durable forms, because storage has been one of the biggest technical challenges to its success. Electrolysis can be used to produce green hydrogen from electricity and water, which can be used by the transport sector, for instance. But if, using electrolysis, hydrogen is processed one step further by adding nitrogen, ammonia is created. Ammonia can contain a lot more energy than hydrogen, making it ideal for heavy transport such as shipping.
It’s also a lot easier to distribute ammonia than hydrogen, because the infrastructure is already in place. That makes ammonia easier to commercialize in the short term. The so-called Power-to-Ammonia technology is now being refined for specific purposes. Near the village of Ramme in West Jutland, an EUDP (Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Programme of the Danish Energy Agency) project is building the world’s first dynamic PtA plant. The plant has Skovgaard Energy, Topsoe and Vestas as partners in a collaboration with ABB.
According to plan, production should start early 2024 and construction is already well underway. ABB Segment Manager Jeppe Skovgaard Bentzen elaborates: “We’re delighted to be part of this pioneering demonstration project, that’s now really taking shape. ABB is supplying full electrical integration for the PtA plant, with control and management of the process as a whole. We have the skills needed within automation (control and management) of integrated electrical solutions, preferably incorporating our own products and others specially customized to customer requirements. In this instance, we’re dealing with full automation and electrical distribution from the electrolysis process for further processing of hydrogen to ammonia – and everything in between.”
Dynamic plant with own electricity supply
The plant will run on energy from its own wind turbines, avoiding using electricity from the existing grid. The type of plant being built in Ramme is called ‘dynamic’ and will be the first of its kind in the world.
“What makes dynamic plants unique is that they can produce green fuels when the sun shines and the wind blow and can gear production down when neither energy source is present. That makes them different from other types of PtX plants, which are directly connected to the grid, making them not quite as agile in terms of being able to adapt to fluctuations in renewable energy,” explains Bentzen. He goes on to add: “Getting the various types of PtX plants to run optimally will be a complex job within green electrification. We need enough energy constantly available at the times when we cannot produce sufficient renewable energy from the sun and wind, for example. Running PtX plants also has to be adapted to capacity on the electricity grid, to avoid it breaking down when fluctuations in energy production and consumption become excessive. And that’s where dynamic plants will play a key role,” he concludes.
Apart from fuel for heavy transport, green ammonia can also be used as an agricultural fertilizer. The majority of ammonia production for artificial fertilizer is currently produced using fossil fuels. Around one percent of global CO2 emissions are believed to come from traditional ammonia production, as researchers from the Aarhus University state.
Pioneering Green Transition
The developer and plant owner is Skovgaard Energy, an innovative and visionary investor in the green transition. Skovgaard Energy own wind turbines and solar farms throughout Denmark.
Pat A. Han is the Technical Director and explains that because this is a demonstration and development project, it was important to partner with a collaborator able to understand that nothing was set in stone from the beginning, and willing to make changes along the way from lessons learned. ABB has turned out to be such a partner, playing an active role right from the early phases of the project and making a positive contribution to the choices of equipment and solutions.