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Renewable energy and beyond

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Energy Global,

By the end of 2022, renewables accounted for 40% of global installed power capacity according to IRENA, which demonstrates good progress of changing the energy mix around the globe, reducing the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in energy production sector. But what about industry, including chemical industry and production of formaldehyde, acetic acid and plastics, polyethylene and polypropylene, and what about transportation, vehicles, ships, and industrial boilers that use mainly fossil fuels or methanol produced from fossil fuels?

Just as an example, there are 60 000 commercial vessels out at sea, which accounts for 2.89% of global CO2 emissions. Aviation accounts for 2.5% of global CO2 emissions but contributes approximately 3.5% to climate change and is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions. In Europe, trucking accounts for 15% of the continent's CO2 emissions; in America, the corresponding figure is 26%. Heavy industry is responsible for nearly 40% of global CO2 emissions. With numbers like these, it is easy to understand why greenifying these industries and sectors is vital to mitigate climate change.

Climate change impact

Unfortunately, emissions reductions in CO2 due to improvements in energy intensity of GDP and carbon intensity of energy, have been less than emissions increase from rising global activity levels in industry and all the economic sectors. At the same time the negative impact of the climate change and annual average temperature raising will make every region in the world to face further hazards as health challenges, floods, biodiversity loss in land, freshwater and ocean ecosystems, and a decrease in food production, landslides, lack of water availability and etc.

Growth of RES and more investments needed in deep decarbonisation

Despite almost 295 GW of additional renewables globally in 2022, increasing the stock of renewable power by 9.6%, a lack of investments needed to meet Europe’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050 is still being observed. Investment of €1 trillion a year is needed in the EU to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030. That is €356 billion more a year than it is now not only in renewable energy, but in deep decarbonisation of all economic sectors.

What is deep decarbonisation and Power-to-X solution

The key in the process of deep industries’ decarbonisation process are green hydrogen, green e-methanol which subsequently can be used as e-fuel for road transport and industrial purposes or be processed into e-fuels, chemicals, and materials. Electricity from sun or wind can be used to produce the green hydrogen and e-methanol, so called Power-to-X (PtX) process, enabling the opportunity to decarbonise these heavy emitters substantially.

Examples of Denmark’s Power-to-X projects

Denmark is a leader globally in planned PtX projects.According to the Methanol Institute, Denmark has 11 PtX projects on the way, the second highest number in the world after China. European Energy is behind five announced projects in Denmark and is pursuing the development of PtX facilities in many markets in which it operates, including the US, Brazil, and Australia. This is part of the company's ambition to build PtX facilities worldwide that produce green hydrogen and e-methanol, or so-called e-fuels, using renewable energy.

European Energy’s collaboration with global leaders for the e-methanol supply

In 2023, European Energy will finish the construction of green hydrogen and e-methanol at the largest in the world e-methanol plant using electricity from self-constructed Kassø solar power park of the capacity 300 MW. Furthermore, the excess heat from the hydrogen production will be used for district heating and provide heating for more than 2000 households in the area. PtX projects will enable the decarbonisation of the heavy fuel and plastic industries, having the supply agreements with the world’s largest toy company the LEGO Group, leading healthcare company Novo Nordisk A/S and worlds’ largest shipping company, Maersk. Recently, as a large step in aircraft sector decarbonisation, Metafuels AG of Switzerland and European Energy A/S announced about entering into a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on the development and implementation of a sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production plant in Denmark using Metafuels’ proprietary aerobrew process.

The largest transaction in European Energy’s history

Mitsui & Co., Ltd, the Japanese trading and investment company, will acquire 49% of the 304 MW solar plant in Kassø and the connected e-methanol facility from European Energy, the renewable energy and green fuel developer. The Kassø solar park is the largest in Northern Europe, and the e-methanol facility will, when operational in 2024, be the world's largest, producing up to 42 000 tpy of e-methanol. With this move, European Energy collaborates with an experienced global partner in renewable energy and methanol production, accelerating progress across this emergent green industry. The Danish and EU authorities shall approve the transaction.

In summary, national economies need to reach out the climate neutrality not only with greening the energy mix, but in heavy industry and transportation too, by addressing process differences and facilitating the scale-up of production and use of green hydrogen and e-methanol. For sure to reduction of costs will require a variety of policy interventions, with predictable and reliable investment climate, transparent and clear regulatory framework, making possible long-term off-takers agreements, risks sharing financial instruments, renewable e-methanol and hydrogen could become more price competitive comparing with unstable fossil energy prices, making the transition to green fuel consumption by heavy industry and transportation faster.



For more news and technical articles from the global renewable industry, read the latest issue of Energy Global magazine.

Energy Global's Spring 2023 issue

The Spring 2023 issue of Energy Global hosts an array of technical articles focusing on offshore wind, solar technology, energy storage, green hydrogen, waste-to-energy, and more. This issue also features a regional report on commodity challenges facing Asia’s energy transition.

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