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Greenland Inaugurates First Hydrogen Plant for Renewable Energy Storage; Future Upgrade May Support Vehicle Fueling

The first hydrogen plant for renewable energy storage in Greenland has been inaugurated. The plant is a test system which shall help provide suggestions for how hydrogen can be used for future renewable energy storage in the country. H2 Logic A/S from Denmark has developed and delivered the hydrogen plant which is owned and operated by the national energy company Nukissiorfiit.

The purpose of the test plant is to gain experiences with production, distribution and use of hydrogen as an energy carrier and thereby investigate the opportunities for increasing the renewable energy share in the energy production from Nukissiorfiit.

The plant also includes a compression and distribution system that enables storing of the hydrogen under pressure. This way the hydrogen can be distributed to other cities and settlements in Greenland where it can be used for local energy production. The plant is also prepared for a future upgrade with a hydrogen refueling station, enabling use of hydrogen as fuel for transport.

In many periods of the year we have a reserve capacity at the hydro power plant that provides energy for the city of Nuuk. The idea is to use this capacity to produce electricity and split water into hydrogen and oxygen in the test hydrogen plant. In periods with larger energy consumption, typically during winter, we convert the hydrogen to electricity and heat in the fuel cell system in the test plant. This way the hydrogen functions as a battery that stores energy for later use whenever needed.

—Svend Hardenberg, energy director from Nukissiorfiit

The excess heat from both the hydrogen production and the fuel cell can be used for heating, while the electricity can be supplied to grid or used in the office building of Nukissiorfiit.

The Greenlandic Government has since 2006 earmarked funds on the national budget for research and development of renewable energy. This is also the initiative that has supported this hydrogen plant and in the future is to put focus on energy supply for arctic regions.

Around 60% of the energy—electricity and heat—that Nukissiorfiit produces today for the entire country comes from hydro power. The remainder is produced by use of expensive and polluting diesel. The small settlements are especially depended on diesel power, and where many of them do not have the opportunity for establishment of other means of renewable energy in larger scale. Further diesel power is also used as reserve power in cities that today is supplied with energy from hydro power plants.

With a continuous increase of production capacities of hydro power plants in combination with hydrogen storage and fuel cells, it may in long term be possible for Nukissiorfiit, to completely avoid use of diesel for electricity and heat production. The hydrogen could also be used as fuel for the transportation sector and with the excessive potential for hydro power that the country posses, export of hydrogen may be a long term opportunity for Greenland.


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