Maxima hydrogen power plant is ‘important step in sustainability’

An important step in making the energy system more sustainable. That’s how Ad van Wijk, professor of Future Energy Systems at TU Delft, calls the conversion of the Maxima power plant to process hydrogen.

Engie is converting one of the power plant’s two turbines in Lelystad. The power plant now makes electricity from natural gas, but a lot of Co2 is released in the process. According to Van Wijk, that’s where the big difference with hydrogen lies. “Now you burn natural gas and when you produce one kilowatt hour of electricity you emit about half a kilo of CO2. If you burn hydrogen, then you have no more Co2 emissions, so then you actually save a small half kilo of Co2 per kilowatt hour.”

The power plant will not produce hydrogen soon, but will run on hydrogen, reducing emissions from the plant. The hydrogen has to be generated. “Hydrogen is not an energy source, but an energy carrier,” says Van Wijk. He also says that hydrogen can be made from almost anything. By splitting water you get hydrogen and oxygen. That hydrogen contains the energy. You can get that from fossil fuels, but preferably you get it from sustainable sources like sun, wind and water.

Now that gas prices continue to rise due to the Russian-Ukrainian war and the consequences of global warming are becoming more visible, according to energy company Engie, owner of the power plant, it is even more important for the energy market to become sustainable quickly.

The production of hydrogen is expensive, but according to the TU Delft professor, hydrogen is especially interesting when processing and supplying large quantities. “If you want to produce a lot then you have to produce it at sea or maybe in the Sahara. Then conversion to hydrogen is interesting, because then you can transport it much cheaper over long distances and also store it much cheaper. Seasonal storage is also possible. That way you can move the cheap solar energy from summer to winter.”