In ten years’ time, hydrogen technology will be ready for large-scale introduction across a wide range of applications in the Netherlands. Ulco Vermeulen, chairman of the TKI New Gas initiative of Topsector Energie, has formally presented the Hydrogen Roadmap to Sandor Gaastra, Director General of Energy of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK). The Roadmap describes where and how sustainable hydrogen can be embedded into the Dutch energy and raw materials system.
The Roadmap says that investment is necessary now in pilot schemes and demonstration projects, so that experience can be built up - especially in industry and transport, the most promising markets for sustainable hydrogen. Innovations remain important, not only to enable new applications to be developed, but also in order to reduce the costs of the technology and systems still further, and thereby also the cost price of hydrogen. The Roadmap was drawn up by TKI New Gas on behalf of EZK.
Hydrogen’s system role
Hydrogen plays an important system role. It offers flexibility because of its different application possibilities. It connects markets such as (offshore) wind farms and the chemicals industry, where hydrogen can be used for generating high-temperature heat, and also as a raw material in the production of (for example) ammonia. It is a sustainable alternative to carbon-based energy carriers, such as diesel in trucks, ships and trains where battery-powered electric solutions are insufficient. It can replace natural gas in the existing built environment. Hydrogen can be stored for long periods on a large scale. Moreover, the existing gas infrastructure can also be used for transporting hydrogen.
There are various ways of producing hydrogen. Green, sustainable hydrogen can, for example, be produced from renewable wind or solar power. The electricity generated is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen via electrolysis. Natural gas forms the basis of grey hydrogen. And if the resulting CO2 emissions are captured and, for example, stored offshore in empty gas fields, this is known as blue hydrogen, which is climate neutral. The roadmap advocates green, sustainable hydrogen, but it also points out that grey hydrogen (in the short term) and blue hydrogen (in the medium term) can help to develop the hydrogen market quickly.
The Netherlands can become a European leader
The Netherlands is excellently positioned to play an important role in the field of hydrogen. The Dutch ambitions for offshore wind, and the country’s strong industrial position, excellent infrastructure (ports, gas pipelines, gas fields, power cable landfall) and good knowledge base, all form a strong basis for achieving ambitious climate targets for 2030 and 2050 using climate-neutral and sustainable hydrogen.
The Roadmap says that integral planning and vision formation will be needed. A wide range of developments can affect hydrogen, such as the production of renewable electricity from wind and solar, the need for infrastructure, the sustainability of the industry, the availability of gas grids, the possibilities of CCS (CO2 capture and storage), and energy, climate and innovation policy. Clarity of vision will be required and choices will have to be made in order to capitalise on the opportunities that hydrogen offers.