The Netherlands and the development of the green hydrogen economy

16 September, 2021

  • The implementation of various green hydrogen development projects and collaboration between companies make clear the country’s intention to focus on a climate-responsible future

On 30 March this year the Dutch government unveiled its hydrogen strategy. It did so in a letter to Parliament entitled “Government Vision on Hydrogen”, in which it stated that “commitment to sustainable hydrogen in the Netherlands creates new jobs, improves air quality and is essential for the energy transition”.

This letter, written by Eric Wiebes, the Dutch Minister of Economy and Climate, was presented as the first step in a series of initiatives aimed at turning the country’s hydrogen ambitions, which had previously been announced in the national climate agreement and the Hydrogen Roadmap, into reality.

The roadmap presented this year highlights the three reasons why the development of green hydrogen technology is crucial for the Netherlands:

1. It allows the country to take full advantage of the potential of wind energy in the North Sea. Grid capacity is limited, and it is not possible to cost-effectively integrate the full potential of 70 GW of wind power. Focusing on hydrogen and the use of the high-pressure gas grid may be a solution to transport renewable molecules through the extensive pipeline network.

2.The Netherlands needs hydrogen to decarbonise sectors where direct electrification is not an option. These include, for example, the steel industry.

3. It also needs it for for seasonal storage and periods when there is little wind and solar power available in northwest Europe. Let’s remember that just one of the advantages of hydrogen is the fact that it can be stored under pressure in existing salt caverns and depleted gas fields. 

The Netherlands needs hydrogen to decarbonise sectors where direct electrification is not an option

Furthermore, the Netherlands is one of the countries with the highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita in Europe. This roadmap will help meet a stated goal: to reduce emissions by 55% below 1990 levels by 2030.

As well as taking advantage of the sustainable energy potential of the North Sea, its geographical location and the strength of ports such as Rotterdam can help the country to become an important hub for European hydrogen imports and exports.

This roadmap will help reduce emissions by 55% below 1990 levels by 2030

Alongside this roadmap, investments have been committed to finance projects aimed at stimulating the production of green hydrogen and finding ways to use the fuel in industry.

Offshore green hydrogen production plant

A consortium of energy and technology companies are implementing the PosHYdon project, which aims to create the world’s first green hydrogen production plant located offshore.

PosHYdon will integrate three North Sea energy systems (offshore wind, marine gas and marine hydrogen) into a single plant. Here, seawater will be converted into demineralised water and then into green hydrogen through the electrolysis process. It will then be mixed with gas and transported through an existing pipeline.

The 1MW electrolyser will produce a maximum of 400 kilograms of green hydrogen each day.

High hopes for renewable hydrogen development projects

NortH2 is another flagship project in the Netherlands, a consortium of five companies (Equinor, Gasunie, Groningen Seaports, RWE and Shell Nederland) that have set their sights on large-scale green hydrogen production using offshore wind energy. They plan to reach up to 4 gigawatts of green hydrogen by 2030, potentially becoming the most ambitious hydrogen wind power project in Europe. In its initial phase, it intends to build major offshore wind farms in the North Sea. The first of these would be operational in 2027.

It also intends to build a large electrolyser plant in Eemshaven, where wind energy would be converted into hydrogen. The consortium also seeks to create a smart storage and transmission network in the Netherlands and northwest Europe to transport one million metric tonnes of green hydrogen, mainly dedicated to industry and high-volume consumers. 

The most optimistic forecasts estimate that green hydrogen production will be around 800,000 tonnes per year by 2040. If this were the case, the emission of around 7,000 tonnes of CO2 per year would be avoided.