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New ambitious Danish bio refinery receives EU funding

Photo: COWI

​COWI is currently working on basic design for the very first second-generation (2G) straw-based bioethanol factory in Denmark. ​

The European Commission has awarded €39 million (US$53 million) in funding from the NER300 program to Maabjerg Energy Concept towards the construction of a large-scale cellulosic bio refinery in western Denmark.

The new bioethanol factory, Maabjerg Bioethanol, is a part of the Maabjerg Energy Concept. The concept is about creating a comprehensive, sustainable energy solution for the local community based on the use of local and environmental friendly raw materials and the latest technologies. The concept satisfies several aims: it produces heat and electricity, biogas and transport fuel and uses the remaining nutrients as fertiliser.

Chairman of the board for the consortium of companies involved in the project, Jørgen Udby, is very happy about the EU decision to award funding from the so-called NER300 programme. However, he waits a bit longer before uncorking the champagne bottle.

"The NER300 award decision is fantastic news and an important recognition of the project. It's a big pad on the shoulder for everybody who's been working hard to optimize technical and financial details since the project launch in August 2011," says Udby and continues:

"EU funding is a crucial step. However, we also need to be sure that we can sell the 80 million litres of second-generation bioethanol that we plan to make, before we give the go-ahead for construction of our bioethanol plant. To ensure that, we need a political and legal framework setting a minimum level of second-generation biofuel additives in gasoline."

Biomass across borders and markets

The factory is the first of its kind, both in Denmark and in COWI. Back in 2006 COWI Sweden designed a first generation (1G) wheat-based bioethanol factory. The difference between the first and second generation factories are primarily that products used for food production are used in the 1G production while the 2G factories use biomass. Biomass is more desirable because critics have pointed out that the original method means tying up products that were preferred used in the food production. Currently, most of the 1st generation bioethanol used in European gasoline blends is imported— and often made by US corn or South American sugar cane.

Therefore, 2G bioethanol is important as a sustainable and climate friendly substitute for fuel for the transportation sector. At the same time, bioenergy is an initiative that will contribute towards becoming self-supplied and independent from oil-states. 

"The value of the oil and chemical market is estimated to be 1,000 billion US dollars, so the potential in this market is significant," says Project Director Mogens Dahl Pallesen. 

By Rikke Vous Hvidsteen 

Published 29.07.2014​

Facts about Maabjerg Energy Concept

​- Maabjerg Energy Concept is a consortium of DONG Energy, Vestforsyning (local district heating company), Struer Forsyning (municipal utility) and Novozymes.

- Maabjerg Energy Concept consists of a biogas plant Maabjerg BioEnergy, a traditional thermal power plant Maabjergværket and the bioethanol factory.

- The bioethanol factory will process 300.000 ton of straw annually resulting in the production of more than 80 million litres of bioethanol for use in biofuels. 

- When processing the straw the by-products lignin and vinasse will be segregated. Lignin is a hard substance, which can be used as biofuel in the power plant and vinasse is a syrupy product  suitable for use in the biogas plant to boost the biogas production.

- The whole product will contribute to a CO₂ reduction of 264.000 ton 

LAST UPDATED: 16.09.2016