U.S. company Electrochaea LLC announced yesterday it has launched a subsidiary in Denmark where it plans to test its renewable natural gas technology with E.ON, one of the world’s largest investor-owned energy companies, Denmark’s University of Aarhus and energy trading firm, Nordjysk Elhandel.
Electrochaea’s new technology diverts waste carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere to convert excess electric power into usable, storable energy, in the form of methane, the main component for natural gas.
Waste carbon dioxide is widely available and can be derived from a variety of sources such as farms, power plants or breweries. Excess electric power can be found from natural sources such as wind or solar panels.
Electrochaea’s new technology puts the excess energy to work, distributing it back into the gas grid.
“There are huge market imbalances today, and they are getting bigger as more electrical power is generated from natural resources,” says Mich Hein, CEO and founder of Electrochaea. “With our technology, we are able to grab excess electrical power, store it for long periods of time and distribute it as natural gas.”
“Working with Electrochaea on this exciting new biogas technology dovetails with our strategic priorities: providing cleaner & better energy,” says Michael Dalby, Strategy Manager of E.ON Danmark A/S.
Technology conceived at the University of Chicago
Electrochaea was founded in the U.S. in September, 2010, with technology conceived by Dr. Laurens Mets at the University of Chicago. Now it is launching its European operations in Denmark with plans to hire 12 people in the first year.
Electrochaea plans to test the new technology in Denmark with the Danish division of E.ON, the University of Aarhus, and Nordjysk Elhandel.
International engineering firm NIRAS was instrumental in the negotiations with each of the parties and will also remain actively involved in the field demonstration of Electrochaea’s technology.
Hein expects testing will take 12 to 18 months. If the technology performs as expected, the first commercial facility will be in operation within the next three years, using Denmark as a steppingstone to reach the rest of the European market.
Denmark – a Leading Cleantech Center
After researching a range of countries, Electrochaea selected Denmark for its field demonstration because it is one of the world’s leading cleantech centers with a well-established network and infrastructure for testing smart grid technologies.
Denmark has one of the most modern natural gas grids in Europe with one entity, the Danish transmission system operator (TSO) Energinet.dk, operating the gas grid as well as the electrical grid. Denmark also has supportive governmental programs for identifying and funding the development of new cleantech technologies.
In addition, the Danish government has an ambitious strategic plan to make the country fully independent of fossil fuels by 2050.
“As a small company your biggest risks are the investment of capital, personnel resources and technology,” says Hein. “All of this is dependent on a regulatory framework to be profitable, and that framework can change within the 3-5 years it takes to get the technology on the market. Denmark has a long history of stable regulatory progression and meeting its goals on development of clean energy.”
Invest in Denmark, a confidential and free one-stop service under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, introduced Electrochaea to Denmark and its partners.
Peter Johan Plesner, Cleantech team leader from Invest in Denmark, says that Electrochaea’s decision to launch the technology in Denmark will help strengthen the cleantech cluster in the country.
“The scope of Electrochaea’s project is a perfect fit for the Danish energy strategy of becoming 100% fossil fuel free by 2050,” says Plesner. “We are thrilled that our assistance has facilitated the testing of such an innovative technology in Denmark. Cleantech companies, government agencies and research institutions in Denmark work together closely to make new cleantech technologies workable and profitable.”
Read the full press release.