Technical University of Denmark: New center to accelerate Power-to-X

DTU is accelerating the development of large-scale Power-to-X projects to get them onto the market quickly. This is the result of a grant of DKK 80 million from VILLUM FONDEN to establish a new national innovation centre. The VILLUM Power-to-X Accelerator (VPX) is the first of its kind to focus exclusively on Power-to-X projects.

Denmark has been a pioneer country in the generation of renewable energy in the form of, for example, power from wind turbines. But our energy consumption is still largely based on fossil fuels. This applies to large parts of heavy industry and to fuels for those parts of the transport sector that cannot be electrified, such as ships and aircraft.

Here, Power-to-X can play a significant role, because the technology can convert wind and solar power into, for example, ammonia, methanol, and methane, which can be used as fuels. The technology can thus become one of the most important steps towards the green transition and is one of the prerequisites for our ability to reduce carbon emissions.

Danish universities are conducting intensive research into Power-to-X technologies, and Denmark has a leading position in this field. But there is a very long way from the laboratory to fully functional industrial plants, and the development towards commercialization must therefore be faster.

“If the green transition is to succeed, it’s necessary to activate the practical application of the excellent Danish research in this field. It’s a long and often difficult journey on which a concerted effort is needed. We hope that The VILLUM Power-to-X Accelerator can help speed up the process. It’s necessary,” says Jens Kann-Rasmussen, Chair of the Board of Directors of VILLUM FONDEN.

DTU President Anders Bjarklev also sees great opportunities with the new initiative:

“With the grant, we can accelerate the development of Power-to-X solutions. That is necessary to ensure Denmark’s continued leading position in Power-to-X technologies.”

“The initiative also fits well into the Government’s Power-to-X strategy, which will kick-start the development of green fuels. Together, we can make Power-to-X the next big Danish green transition venture.”

Intensive and focused support
The new national initiative will help commercialize the most promising Power-to-X projects from all research environments in Denmark. This must be done through intensive and focused support. The ambition is quickly to clarify which of the Power-to-X projects seem scalable. Subsequently, large-scale prototypes will be developed, business plans will be drawn up, and a competent and passionate team will be assembled to bring the technologies onto the market.

As Scientific Director, DTU Professor Peter Vesborg will head the centre, while DTU Professor Jens Kehlet Nørskov will chair the steering committee. Both professors are internationally leading energy researchers whose projects include work with the use of catalysis technology to replace fossil fuels in energy production and materials manufacturing.

“More Power-to-X-related ideas are produced at the conceptual level each year, but they will never work commercially because they don’t make the transition from the research project stage to viable start-ups. The leap from university laboratory to commercial application is huge. This means that—in practice—most promising ideas never become reality. We will now do something about that. With the new initiative, we’re boosting the best research ideas that have the potential to gain a foothold on the energy market,” says Peter Vesborg.

He predicts that there is a large long-term market for Power-to-X solutions: In a fossil-free future, the global annual demand for Power-to-X products will have a value in the order of USD 500 billion.