What technologies will set the energy agenda in 2021?

14. January 2021

2021 may be the year when there are major technological breakthroughs in the energy sector in Denmark. A number of promising technologies and innovative projects have been launched, so this year we may be taking some significant steps towards the green transition.

Contribution to a debate by Glenda Napier, CEO of Energy Cluster Denmark

When I talk to Danish energy companies, I feel a great deal of optimism and belief that we in Denmark will succeed in our ambition of reducing our CO2 emissions by 70% by 2030.

This is not least due to the belief that we in Denmark can work together and jointly develop the new technological solutions that no company can develop alone.

There is a sea of exciting new technologies and innovative solutions that may achieve a breakthrough in 2021. Here is my suggestion for three technologies which we will talk a lot about this year, and which Energy Cluster Denmark’s members are developing in new and exciting innovation projects.

  1. Power-to-X (PtX) and sector coupling

First and foremost, it is absolutely crucial to scale up the technological solutions within PtX and sector coupling if we are to achieve the goal of a new green energy system in just ten years. After several pilot projects in recent years, 2021 may be the year in which we see the first major breakthroughs. This includes creating the framework for exploiting the potential of future energies, with cost-effective PtX technologies and refining hydrogen for PtX products for use in land, sea and air transport. The energy sector is crucial for the green transition in other sectors, such as the entire transport sector, and I believe this collaboration can succeed in a green breakthrough in 2021.

  1. Capture and storage of CO2

If we are to achieve Denmark’s climate goals, an interesting option is to capture CO2 from heavy and intensive industries. In the long term, green CO2 may be recycled in industry, while in the short term, it can be stored, for example, in the subsoil. The Danish Council on Climate Change highlights Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as a vital piece in the green transition, and the government is pushing to spread the technology in the EU. The first major innovation project in the field in Denmark – called Project Greensand – has just been launched. The project will clarify whether we can exploit the existing oil and gas infrastructure out at sea to store CO2 in the spent fields in the North Sea – of course, in an environmentally sound manner. In 2021, the Nini field project will provide the first indications of the potential and the extent to which CCS can become a new market for Danish companies.

  1. Exploitation of surplus heat

There is global potential for energy exploitation and better use of common energy resources based on the notion that the greenest and cheapest energy is the one that we do not use. In Denmark, industry has a robust understanding of energy as one common, connected system that is mutually dependent and complementary, and the first projects with better energy exploitation show excellent results. This includes better use of surplus heat from supermarkets and industry, which should be collected and recycled. Furthermore, the large data centres of, among others, Google, Apple and Facebook have massive electricity consumption with great potential for recycling. A new project called Green DC is to test an entirely new cooling technology with the potential to reduce power consumption and recycle heat. If successful, it could pave the way for far better exploitation of industry’s surplus heat.