Green energy

Future ‘Power-to-Xperts’ can pave the way for new Danish business success story

There will be a huge need to educate future experts in Power-to-X, which is why the Pioneer Center CAPeX is investing heavily in accelerating the process by training more than 100 PhDs and postdocs and giving them access to the world’s leading researchers and equipment in this field.

The best materials currently being used for electrolysis in Power-to-X plants are based on rare platinum metals that don't exist in the amounts necessary for scaling, which is why one of the goals of CAPeX is to discover more sustainable and scalable alternatives. That requires training of more experts such as Tejs Vegge (to the right) and Frede Blaabjerg, who are heading the Pioneer Center. Photo: Bax Lindhardt

Global lab

The CAPeX center is anchored in Denmark, but close collaboration with international universities — Stanford University, University of Toronto, and Utrecht University — can contribute to really speeding up the development. Here, CAPeX’s researchers and participants in the CAPeX Academy can acquire unique access to equipment and expertise in both Denmark and abroad.

“We can utilize each other’s infrastructure and competences in a new way. For example, some of our competent postdocs can create programs that can control a synthesis robot located in another country that makes some materials on which a group from a third country or laboratory can analyse the data and make new predictions,” says Tejs Vegge.

One of the goals of the CAPeX center is to accelerate the development of Power-to-X materials, making the process 5-10 times faster. Precisely this approach can also speed up the acquisition of knowledge.

“It means that you suddenly have a global laboratory and a huge number of techniques available on a scale unmatched by any other laboratory in the world,” says Tejs Vegge.

“It provides an opportunity to become a researcher or subsequently an industrial front runner as quickly as possible. The young researchers will have the opportunity to take their ideas to a level where they can be accelerated by the best researchers and the best infrastructure much faster than is typically possible.”

Lengthy stay at international university

When it comes to the green transition, it is important that the solutions extend beyond Denmark’s borders. Even if we expand the production of the green power we consume in Denmark, this constitutes a negligible part of the challenge we have to solve. Therefore, the global outlook has been incorporated in CAPeX Academy, where at least half of the PhDs and postdocs will be affiliated to a fellowship programme, comprising a lengthy stay at one of the international partner universities.

“If—as a PhD or postdoc—you come with your own funding and your own project and are there for a few weeks, you often don’t become an integral part of the research environment. But if you’re there long enough to form part of the daily routine and have a co-supervisor with the international host, you get a different dynamic,” says Tejs Vegge.

In addition, the international partner universities will also send PhDs and postdocs to Denmark on exchange stays, and Padraic Foley from University of Toronto is looking forward to this. He is Director of Strategy and Partnerships at University of Toronto’s global initiative Acceleration Consortium and is confident that their researchers and students can expand their skill sets and learn from their Danish partners.

 "Educating the future scientific leaders in autonomous materials discovery depends critically on their access to the global network of experts. Programs like the CAPeX and Acceleration Consortium Fellowship Program provide a unique opportunity to establish and nurture these kinds of connections, where our PhDs and postdocs can spend extensive periods abroad and bring back new digital competences," he says.

The first CAPeX PhD and postdoc positions are expected to be announced soon with a scheduled start in 2023, and hiring will subsequently be made on an ongoing basis. All the positions will be anchored at one of the Danish universities.


CAPeX stands for ‘Pioneer Center for Accelerating P2X Materials Discovery’, and the Pioneer Center will power up the invention of new materials for use in Power-to-X plants, which will be absolutely crucial if green power from the new energy islands as well as existing wind turbines and solar farms is to be truly integrated in society.

The center is run in a partnership between DTU and Aalborg University (AAU), and is located in a new interdisciplinary ‘Climate Challenge Laboratory’ at DTU. Here, researchers from DTU, AAU, the University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, and the University of Southern Denmark will create a ground-breaking interdisciplinary environment for Power-to-X technology in collaboration with international partners from Stanford University, Utrecht University, and University of Toronto.

Five Danish foundations—the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science, the Danish National Research Foundation, the Carlsberg Foundation, the Lundbeck Foundation, the Novo Nordisk Foundation, and VILLUM FONDEN—have granted a total of DKK 300 million to the establishment of CAPeX.

Read more about CAPeX