by Linda Bertelsen
Aalborg Portland (carbon capture project), photograph @Lars Just

The interconnection of Power-to-X produced hydrogen and district heating has the potential to be a key catalyst for the green transition. And therefore, district heating is vital for the success of the Danish Power-to-X strategy.

Member Company Profile COWI
– by Henrik Dalsgaard, VP of District Energy, COWI and Maral Taghva, Senior Specialist in Power-to-X

Published in Hot Cool, edition no. 6/2022 | ISSN 0904 9681 |

Denmark is one of the pioneers in developing energy-efficient concepts such as district heating, which uses waste or surplus energy from industries such as power plants and waste incineration facilities. But to promote the green transition, energy-efficient strategies are not enough: We also need to cut carbon dioxide emissions and eventually reach zero emissions.

Power-to-X is expected to play a key role in our future energy production and solve two of the major challenges on our path to the end goal of the green transition. Power-to-X converts green power into carbon-neutral fuels, eventually replacing fossil fuels and cutting carbon dioxide emissions. They can be stored and utilized the same way as existing fuels.

A wide range of benefits

Power-to-X processes also produce considerable waste heat as a by-product, with up to 25 percent of the plant energy intake wasted by heat generation. A 6 GW hydrogen production plant could meet around 20 percent of Denmark’s total district heating demand.

Other than high energy efficiency, waste-heat recovery includes many other benefits, including the competitiveness of electrolysis plants, which will create future jobs and revenues from the export of green technologies. Some of the studies conducted by COWI show that the estimated price of hydrogen production could be reduced by five to ten percent if district heating was combined with electrolysis processes. This could encourage stakeholders to invest in establishing more hydrogen plants in countries with high heating demands, such as Denmark.  

Illustration, Copyright COWI

More cost-efficient hydrogen plants will also lead to cheaper production of carbon-neutral fuels and the establishment of more Power-to-X plants. Undoubtedly, ensuring sufficient carbon-neutral fuels and providing efficient district heating solutions will contribute to better integration across sectors such as power generation, transportation, agriculture, etc. All these elements are essential for the more sustainable and cost-efficient energy solutions we imagine for the future.

Besides energy-efficient solutions such as district heating, Denmark is also known for progressive technologies such as wind and solar power generation. We aim to bring them all together and create an energy-efficient masterpiece to inspire the entire world.

The way forward

COWI has worked on several design studies, reviews, and development projects. However, there are still many challenges ahead.

The main objective we aim for is cost-effective technical solutions, including low-temperature waste-heat issues. Also, expenses for upgrading existing infrastructures, such as heat transmission and heat storage, must be identified and communicated to stakeholders, and costs must be reasonable and attractive for investors. 

COWI constantly works on bringing the integrated district heating concept to the top of the agenda. For example, together with the Danish think tank Grøn Energi and district heating supplier TVIS, we have prepared the study “Power-to-X and District Heating” for Dansk Fjernvarme. This study shows how this concept contributes to improved finances, higher energy efficiency, and security to increase the power-to-X deployment speed in Denmark.

With soaring energy prices and climate crisis, we should aim to recover waste energy as much as possible and encourage everyone, including the authorities, investors, and even end users, to join this movement.

For further information please contact: Henrik Dalsgaard, hda@cowi.com

Photograph: Aalborg Portland (carbon capture project) @Lars Just
Illustration: @COWI

Linking Power-to-X and district heating will boost the green transition” was published in Hot Cool, edition no. 6/2022
Download and print the article here

Meet the authors

Henrik Dalsgaard
VP of District Energy, COWI
Maral Taghva
Founder of XiRES, Senior Specialist in Power-to-X