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    Dutch TSO Prepares for Less Groningen


As the government decides to cut low-calorie gas production, the transporter has come up with ways to keep its grid fully active and compliant with the latest environmental requirements.

by: William Powell

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Dutch TSO Prepares for Less Groningen

Dutch gas transmission system operator Gasunie is preparing to build a nitrogen injection plant near Zuidbroek in order to lower the calorific value of non-Groningen gas. As the Dutch government has ruled that output will end completely in 2030 – several decades earlier than expected – the gas transporter has to find other sources of gas in order to meet its contracts and keep its pipelines active. One way is to inject an inert gas into the pipelines so that it burns safely in household appliances that are currently running on Groningen gas, marketed exclusively by GasTerra in northwest Europe.

The planned nitrogen plant will enable an annual reduction of around 7bn m³ in a cold year. When it comes into use early in 2022, it will be possible to cap production at 12 bn m³/yr. This cap is feasible because, with the scaling down of exports over the coming years, the demand for low-calorific gas from Germany, France and Belgium will also decrease by 2bn m³/yr, it said.

It said the ministry of economic affairs and climate will also be consulted on any changes to laws and regulations needed to enable construction of the nitrogen installation.

Including the nitrogen injection plan, Gasunie has found ways to cut Groningen by about 19bn m³/yr by the middle of next decade, even before energy efficiency improvements are considered:

  • Buying additional nitrogen and modifying existing facilities saves 1 to 1.5bn m³/yr from mid-2020.
  • Switching Dutch industry over to high-calorific gas saves 2.3 to 3.4bn m³/year. GTS is also investigating whether the gas storage facility in Norg can be converted to store the low-calorific gas produced by mixing high-calorific gas with nitrogen once the new nitrogen plant is up and running.
  • Renewable gases save around 1bn m³/yr. In 2017, Gasunie built a demo gasification plant in Alkmaar in collaboration with SCW Systems, with the aim of scaling up this new technology for use at an industrial level as well.
  • Sustainable hydrogen (including hydrogen produced at offshore wind farms) could replace up to about 6bn m³/yr, and Gasunie is working with partners in the North Sea Wind Power Hub consortium.