The Danish hydrogen technology company H2 Logic has developed and delivered Greenland's first hydrogen plant to the national energy company Nukissiorfiit. The plant will serve as a test facility for Greenland to gain experience with production, distribution and use of hydrogen as a renewable energy resource, reports financial daily newspaper Børsen.
The test plant will use surplus electricity from the hydro power plant that serves the Greenlandic capital Nuuk to electrolyse water into hydrogen and oxygen, the hydrogen being stored for subsequent use in the plant's fuel cell to provide both electricity and heat.
At the current stage of technological development, the electrolysis of water to produce hydrogen is not an especially efficient means of energy storage. But storing chemical energy in the form of hydrogen has one obvious advantage over storing potential energy in the form of a water reservoir above a hydroelectric power plant – namely that hydrogen can easily be transported and used in places beyond the reach of the electricity grid.
And there are plenty of Greenlandic communities without access to grid electricity, due to the vastness of the country and the wide dispersal of its small (60,000) population. In fact, some 40% of Greenland's electricity and heat is produced by diesel generators which – according to a press release on H2 Logic's website – are both expensive to run and environmentally burdensome.
So the new hydrogen test plant gives Greenland the opportunity to investigate the potential of combined heat and power plants based on hydrogen fuel cells as a renewable energy alternative for its more remote communities. And of course, there is also potential for the use of hydrogen as a clean fuel in the transport sector.
Given Greenland's massive hydropower resources, it could well be that if hydrogen becomes an important global renewable energy resource of the future, the country could have a valuable export market waiting to be exploited.