Fossil Energy Giants Reborn as Green Batteries

23. June 2023

On Bornholm, a Decommissioned Power Plant Block Will Be Converted into a Battery to Store Excess Green Electrons and Feed Them Back into the Grid. The European Horizon project 2LiPP is giving dying fossil infrastructure a new, green life in renewable energy supply.

In 2021, the renowned German database Statista compiled a list of the 10 largest CO2 emitters in the EU. Every company on the list was a gas or coal power plant, with Bełchatów in Poland being the largest emitter. This lignite power plant, located 50 km south of Łódź, emitted 33.2 million tons of CO2 annually, more than Switzerland’s total emissions in 2021.

Europe’s power plants have a tarnished environmental record but are an indispensable part of the energy supply. Last year, more than one-third of the EU’s electricity came from either gas (20 percent) or coal (16 percent).

The European Horizon innovation project “Second Life in Power Plants” (2LiPP) addresses this dilemma. Facilitated by Energy Cluster Denmark and involving partners from six European countries, the pilot project aims to ease the climate burden without compromising the role of power plants in the energy supply. Using Bornholm’s Energy and Utility (BEOF) power plant in Rønne as a starting point, the ambition is to demonstrate a scalable, hybrid energy storage solution that leverages existing infrastructure, thereby reducing the cost of implementing energy storage.

€1.2 Trillion in Savings

The combination of green storage and the reuse of existing energy infrastructure is the key to the solution. By converting existing fossil power plants into new, reborn hybrid energy storage facilities based on green energy, outdated fossil-fuel assets worth billions in Europe alone can gain new value as updated, green power plants.

“If we can repurpose fossil power plants as new, reborn hybrid energy storage facilities based on green energy, it means that outdated fossil-fuel assets worth billions in Europe alone will gain new value as updated, green power plants,” says Lars Brückner, International Project Director at Energy Cluster Denmark.

“And this is not small change: Global estimates suggest that potential retrofits at plants would allow for the retention of €1.2 trillion in assets. Fifteen to twenty percent of these assets are in Europe,” he adds.

An Important Stepping Stone

This is why the project to give outdated fossil plants a new, green future has been initiated as a pan-European innovation project.

“Billions of euros have been invested in fossil power and cogeneration plants in Europe, which risk becoming worthless in a fossil-free future. Finding pan-European solutions yields pan-European benefits,” says Lars Brückner.

For Claus M. Andersen, CEO of Bornholms Energi & Forsyning and host of the international innovation project, the prospects are promising.

“I have no doubt that 2LiPP will be one of the most important stepping stones on the path to the green transition and the future energy supply. I am particularly pleased that the project is anchored on Bornholm, allowing us to put our power plant and expertise to use,” he says.

“Innovation projects should address demanded solutions and create value. With 2LiPP, we can confidently say that we are achieving this. Global estimates show that potential retrofits at plants could retain €1.2 trillion in assets, which would otherwise become worthless with the green transition.”

Glenda Napier, CEO, Energy Cluster Denmark


Project Partners in 2LiPP:

  • Bornholms Energi & Forsyning
  • QuinteQ (Flywheel, Netherlands)
  • Hyme Energy (Thermal Energy Storage)
  • PLS Energy Systems (Battery Storage, Sweden)
  • Fraunhofer (Research and Development, Germany)
  • Danish Technological Institute, Gdansk University of Technology
  • Technical University of Denmark, Euroheat & Power (International Network for District Heating)
  • PINI Solutions (Energy System Management, Sweden)
  • Netzgesellschaft Eisenberg (Grid Company)
  • Ernst-Abbe-Hochschule Jena and Koksik (Polish Coal Plant in Reda)
  • Energy Cluster Denmark

Budget: DKK 100 million, of which DKK 60 million comes from the EU (Horizon-CL5-2022).

Technologies in Focus for 2LiPP:

  1. A high-temperature hydroxide salt energy storage for combined heat and power production, demonstrating long-term energy storage on a grid scale.
  2. A battery storage system consisting of used car batteries.
  3. A high-tech flywheel for short-term energy storage.

The idea is to integrate these three technologies into a hybrid energy management system, enabling grid balancing and the delivery of stored energy when needed.