Dutch industry presents major plans for hydrogen – both blue and green [GasTransitions]
The plans are part of a national Climate Accord presented by the Dutch government in June 2019, which is now part of overall Dutch climate policy. The Accord is based on commitments from business associations, local governments and other stakeholders. The Dutch energy-intensive sector has committed to reducing its CO2 emissions by 14.5 million tons (almost 50% ) in 2030.
In the plans, the sector has adopted a cluster-based approach. The Netherlands has five major industrial clusters: the Rotterdam port region, the Amsterdam port region, the (petro-)chemical cluster Chemelot in the south, Smart Delta Resources in Zeeland and Flanders in the south-west, and the Northern Netherlands. In addition, a sixth ‘cluster’ was formed, consisting of all other major energy users spread throughout the country, such as paper, ceramics, glass and cement plants.
The largest cluster is the port and industrial region of Rotterdam, one of the major industrial centres of Europe, which employs 400,00 people directly and indirectly. The Rotterdam cluster was assigned a target of reducing CO2 emissions by 10-12 million tons, over half of its current emissions (around 18 mt).
Rotterdam has drawn up a three-stage plan. The first, until 2025, is focused on efficiency and better use of industrial waste streams for heating homes and greenhouses. The second stage, until 2030, focuses on replacing oil and gas in industrial processes by electricity and hydrogen. This will initially be blue hydrogen, based on natural gas with CCS, with a transition to renewables-based green hydrogen foreseen in the longer term. The third stage, 2030-2050, focuses on replacing fossil feedstock in the transport and chemical sectors by biomass, recycling and utilisation of CO2 in combination with green hydrogen.
Rotterdam has identified four value chains along which it envisions the transition to take place: hydrogen, electrification, waste heat and circularity. In addition, CCUS (carbon capture, utilisation and storage) is given a key role. A number of projects have been started up already. The key carbon transport and storage project is called Porthos, a joint-venture of the Port of Rotterdam and state-owned gas companies Gasunie and EBN. It aims at transporting 2.5 mt of CO2 per year from industry in the Port of Rotterdam to a platform 20 km off the coast, from where it will be stored in empty gas fields beneath the North Sea. Porthos will be linked to H-Vision, a joint-venture of Deltalinqs, Air Liquide, BP, Gasunie, the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Power Plant Rotterdam, Shell, Uniper, Royal Vopak and ExxonMobil. This project is focused on the production of blue hydrogen, in which CO2 is captured.
However, Rotterdam also has ambitious plans to produce green hydrogen. The first electrolyzers in the region will become operational in 2023. The Port Authority is building a 2 GW conversion facility where green electricity (from offshore wind), electrolysis capacity, a hydrogen pipeline, and infrastructure for the supply of demiwater will come together. This park includes H2Fifty, a 250 and 100 MW electrolyzer, a 200 MW electrolyzer at the Shell refinery based on offshore wind, and MULTIPHLY, a high-temperature electrolyzer for the production of advanced biofuels.
Rotterdam is also developing a hydrogen transport corridor to Germany. Fuel cell trucks are being introduced and 25 high capacity refuelling stations are being built as well as hydrogen bunkering stations on waterways to Germany.
Industrial cluster Chemelot in the south of the Netherlands, which encompasses 60 mostly chemical plants with over 8,000 employees, also relies on both blue and green hydrogen, as well as other technologies, such as reduction of N2O (nitrous oxide) emissions and replacement of naphta as feedstock, to reduce its CO2 emissions by around 50% in 2030. Chemelot has announced a target of climate neutrality by 2050.
Chemelot relies on two broad strategies: electrification with renewable power and replacing fossil-fuel based feedstock by alternatives. In addition, the cluster has embarked on three other programmes: process innovation, circularity and hydrogen. Chemelot is a major user of “grey” hydrogen and has plans to produce green hydrogen by new technologies such as gasification of waste.
The Amsterdam Port region, which includes major steel works, has identified 45 emission reduction projects which, if implemented, would reduce emissions by 15 mt, far above the target of 4.2 mt. They include major projects at Tata Steel, together good for 7.4 mt. Tata Steel has no other options at the moment than capturing and storing CO2. The same goes for the waste processing plant of AEB. There are some pilots looking at re-using CO2, but they are small. The region is also planning to produce green hydrogen from offshore wind.
Smart Delta Resources, a cluster in the Southwest of the Netherlands (Zeeland) and East Flanders (Belgium), which includes major steel, aluminium, fertilizer and food production plants of companies like Dow, Arcelor Mittal, and Engie, likewise relies on CCS, electrification, hydrogen, CCU and “process optimalization” to reduce emissions by 11 mt by 2030. One-half of the target has to come from blue hydrogen with CCS.
Smart Delta Resources is planning to build an integrated, interconnected regional CO2-infrastructure. The cluster is already the largest user of hydrogen in the Netherlands and Flanders and notes that projected demand for hydrogen in the region is “immense”. The region also aspires to become a hydrogen hub for the large-scale production, import and export of both blue and green hydrogen. It aims at constructing 2.3 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2030 and 5.2 GW by 2050. Much of this will be offshore wind facilities in the North Sea.
All five industrial clusters in the Netherlands will be connected to a national hydrogen “backbone” that Gasunie is planning to build, mostly through the conversion of existing natural gas pipelines. The Netherlands has a large amount of excess gas pipeline capacity as it is phasing out production of the giant Groningen field in the north of the country. The hydrogen backbone, which will get a link to Germany, must be operational in 2027.