Fossil fuels such as natural gas or oil must be replaced by clean energy sources such as green hydrogen if climate targets are to be met.

Hydrogen plays a central role in the European Union’s multi-billion dollar “Green Deal” climate project, and the Netherlands also has high hopes for a future hydrogen economy.

The geographical location of the Netherlands is contributing to the emergence of projects for large-scale hydrogen production here. In Eemshaven, Cas König from the company “Groningen Seaports”, which is responsible for the ports and industrial parks, tells of the best conditions:

Natural gas has been produced in the Dutch North Sea for decades. Since the drilling regularly causes earthquakes in the region and destroys houses, the Netherlands will end natural gas production in just over a year.

For Gasunie, the operator of these gas pipelines, for example, this means that the kilometer-long gas network could be used to transport hydrogen. Ulco Vermeulen of Gasunie says that some adjustments still need to be made to the pipelines, but in principle the transport is possible: “In the Dutch southwestern province of Zeeland, we have already converted a large pipeline to hydrogen. This practical example shows us that the pipelines and connections are suitable. In addition to the existing pipelines, however, investments would also have to be made in new connections in order to be able to use hydrogen over a large area.

In the north of the Netherlands, the green hydrogen will mainly be used for industry, says Cas König. Large industrial parks are to be built in Eemshaven and Delfzijl, both towns near the large wind farms in the north.

For many companies today, he says, it is important to be able to work with clean energy sources. “We are bringing these companies to this hydrogen region and can provide them with hydrogen using our own pipeline system,” Cas König said.

The ambition and will are there to build a hydrogen economy in the Netherlands. However, there is still a long way to go before it can be effectively implemented. Green hydrogen is still expensive and the existing wind farms and solar plants do not provide enough renewable electricity to produce green hydrogen for industrial use.

Nedim Husomanovic

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