It is expected that Denmark will be able to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2050 according to Henrik Lund of Aalborg University, Denmark at a recent lecture at the 21st International Congress of Chemical and Process Engineering (CHISA) in Prague.
The approach to achieve this is a holistic one, focussing on “Smart Energy Systems”. By considering heating, transport as well as electricity generation, the Danish government has set several interim targets. These targets include 50% of energy to be generated by wind by 2020 and by 2030 no coal burning power plants will be in operation. It is also a target that no household will use oil for heating by 2030.
Energy consumption in Denmark is probably one of the most stable in the world, with universal cross-party support for the 2050 100% renewable goal set out.
Of Denmark’s electricity generation, approximately 30% is wind generated with 50% coming from small-scale Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants for District Energy or District Heating, a much more efficient solution than individual homes having their own boilers. One challenge from all of this efficiently produced energy was that on occasion the supply of wind-generated electricity occasionally can exceed demand. Solutions that can transfer the energy use to another application such as transport will be key to sustainable energy solutions.
“If you solely look at electricity, then you will say to yourself that there are imbalances between wind and demand and so on, and you identify solutions like electricity storage, batteries, or flexible demand, or you may even build transmission lines to neighbouring countries, but if you broaden this to include heating and transportation and so forth, then you have more options to balance,” said Lund.
Transport has been a major issue, according to Lund. Electric vehicles are not suitable for every application so liquid fuels will still be necessary to supplement these. Biomass and biofuels will be able to meet some of the demand, but not all. Lund proposes a solution to use excess energy in the grid to produce hydrogen, not for use in fuel cells, but to hydrogenate some of the bio-derived oils directly to produce synthetic fuels.