2022 strong year for hydrogen

Hydrogen had a strong year in 2022 due to increased interest, serious green hydrogen initiatives, filling stations, automobiles, knowledge development, and built environment displays.

Hydrogen interest is rising tremendously worldwide. On one side, the Paris Agreement requires countries to drastically reduce CO2 emissions. Industrialized nations need climate-neutral fuels and raw commodities to reach targets. Hydrogen helps.

Other nations seek to export hydrogen. New fossil energy nations perceive huge economic potential. This year, several “demand and supply countries” signed cooperation agreements, led by Germany.

The Netherlands has agreements with Australia, Namibia, Canada, Oman, Portugal, and other South American countries. The Netherlands has also joined the German H2Global program, which has set aside over 1 billion euros for hydrogen imports and may increase to 4 billion. Netherlands will contribute 300 million euros. SDGs are considered when importing responsibly.

There are only a few megawatts of electrolysers, but plans to employ green (and blue) hydrogen are longstanding. Shell decided to build a 200 megawatt electrolyser (Holland Hydrogen I) on Maasvlakte 2 for their refinery, ending the planning stage. 2025/26 is expected.

Hopefully, more industrial participants will now adopt genuine hydrogen initiatives to make their processes more sustainable. Consider fertilizer, steel, and synthetic kerosene production. Eight projects have applied for the second wave of IPCEI, which has roughly EUR 800 million available. Early next year, results should show 1 gigawatt of electrolysis.

The RVO demonstration plan (DEI+) has around 30 million euros this year and 70 million euros next year for smaller initiatives. Electrolysers up to 50 megawatts are being scaled up (250 million euros). Good chance! The climate pact no longer requires 500 megawatts in 2025.

The Netherlands leads infrastructure. Gasunie was tasked by the government to build a statewide hydrogen backbone by 2030. €750 million covers startup costs.

Gasunie and North Sea pipeline operators were requested by the government to investigate a hydrogen infrastructure. The first salt cavern for hydrogen storage is expected to be ready in 2026, in addition to pipelines.

Energie Beheer Nederland, a state-owned corporation, and partners have mapped the potential of hydrogen storage in depleted gas reserves in the North Sea, with favorable results but also obstacles such natural gas contamination in stored hydrogen.

Mobility

Mobility is improving. Netherlands has 14 public hydrogen filling stations and around 600 hydrogen cars. Groningen, Gelderland, and South Holland are using a few hundred hydrogen-powered regional buses.

Excavators, agricultural tractors, and trucks are the first to use hydrogen in heavy road transport and earthmoving. The first hydrogen-powered ships are ashore.

Unfortunately, entrepreneurs’ large investments receive minimal subsidies. Fortunately, the third IPCEI wave, which begins in early 2023, will provide a 200-million-euro subsidy. The Ministry of I&W boosted subsidies for Aanzet (zero-emission trucks) and SSEB for the following year (clean and emission-free construction equipment).

Trials

Hydrogen demonstrations are happening in buildings. Twelve projects range from a test house to a community renovation. Ten historic buildings in Lochem are testing hydrogen. Hoogeveen and Stad aan ‘t Haringvliet should see more projects soon.

The 2022 Green Deal for hydrogen districts removed all policy impediments and clarified inhabitants’ legal rights.

These initiatives test hydrogen as a sustainable energy carrier for the built environment or as a supplement to electrification and heating networks.

Government has been discussed countless times. We are pushing hydrogen policies and laws. Instruments have received 4 billion euros. Excellent start! We’re still not there.

Brussels’ REDIII confusion delays everything. For investors’ peace of mind, Brussels’ trial balloons should become stable policy in 2023.

Innovation

Knowledge and innovation are promising. The second stage of GroenkrachtNL, the national growth fund-supported innovation program, was funded in 2022. Research, demonstration, scaling, and training receive EUR 838 million.

HyDelta is a successful network operator-researcher R&D program. The knowledge portal HEROW, launched last month by NSE (North Sea Energy), is focused on offshore wind and hydrogen generation.

RVO, NWO, and the European Commission also include hydrogen innovation initiatives in their regular programs. This yields many efforts that provide ideas for scaling up hydrogen quickly.

Hydrogen had a wonderful year in 2022. This anthology just raises a corner of the veil. A wish for 2023 would be several concrete projects that start the upscaling process toward a major hydrogen contribution to the energy transition.