Not so easy to roll out e-fuels

It is currently possible to build plants for the production of e-fuels […]

Oct 2023
Not so easy to roll out e-fuels

It is currently possible to build plants for the production of e-fuels such as ammonia in Denmark. However, the wider value chain is more uncertain.

 The fact that it is possible to build plants for the production of green ammonia in Denmark, as the Danish company Skovgaard Energy is now showing with its demo plant in Danish Jutland, represents a major step forward.

“It’s a difficult process to implement, and it’s good that there are some people with knowledge of the area who show that it’s actually possible. There are also several guides being published to help those who don’t have the same knowledge,” says Thomas Hulin, Head of Energy and Transport at DBI.

“Industrial production of e-fuels is the first step towards a greener future, and it is also an area where there are established standards and directives. On the other hand, there are many areas in the wider value chain that pose challenges. This applies, for example, to offshore production, where the relevant oil and gas directives are much stricter,” says Thomas Hulin.

Many unresolved questions
There is also a lack of clarity when it comes to bunkering ships that can use the ammonia, because in ports the directives for land and sea meet and it is unclear which ones apply. Neither are the municipalities equipped to handle applications or approvals for large stores of ammonia. Proposals for plants and storage facilities also tend to meet a lot of resistance from citizens who are concerned about the risk, which can delay or prevent construction. In addition, there are challenges such as how the emergency services handle incidents and interventions at storage facilities and plants.

“There are still many areas where there is friction between government authorities or issues that have not been clarified. Production is the first step, but the full value chain is not yet in place,” says Thomas Hulin.

Is the security level correct?
The size of the plants also holds challenges. Even if a plant is below the limit at which the Seveso Directive begins to apply, that does not automatically mean that it does not pose a potential hazard.

“The Seveso Directive limit is somewhat arbitrary. You might ask yourself why a plant storing 50 tonnes of ammonia is dangerous, but one storing 49 tonnes is not. Why has the limit been set there? Are we sure it’s not dangerous? Is it acceptable that there are no special measures required when you are just below the limit? And is the level of safety established by the Seveso Directive appropriate when the technology spreads and becomes widespread?” asks Thomas Hulin.

The Seveso Directive is not designed to support an acceptable level of safety in connection with the production or storage of e-fuels. Rather, it has been established to regulate and ensure an acceptable level of safety for the storage of flammable liquids, gases, etc., and in connection with the handling of chemicals production. It is a cumbersome, time-consuming and expensive process to comply with. Therefore, the possibility of having a step-based process should be investigated.

“There is a need for an approval process that attracts more investment. For example, having ten steps in the overall process towards approval so that, having completed the first three, you can show that you are in the process of creating value and can attract further investment. The process must be transparent and it may be complex, but not complicated. Among other things, this is what DBI is contributing to with the Safe P2X project,” says Thomas Hulin.



Safe P2X…

…is a DBI project to develop a new type of sensor solution for process monitoring of hydrogen in, for example, electrolysis plants. It is difficult to find guidance on the approval of products for P2X, as the area does not yet have a separate regulatory framework, and it is difficult to keep track of various standards, safety and certification. Safe P2X is supported by the Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Programme (EDUP) and is carried out in collaboration with Sulfilogger, Green Hydrogen Systems, the Danish Gas Technology Centre and Energy Cluster Denmark.

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