Transition to a clean European hydrogen economy starts in Den Helder
Building a blue hydrogen plant in the dutch northern coastal Den Helder region, could lead to a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions and make a European hydrogen network possible. The H2Gateway consortium has presented an exploratory analysis of the possibilities for the production of blue hydrogen in Den Helder in order to achieve a Dutch and European CO2free hydrogen economy.
Central production of blue hydrogen, which is commercially attractive and can be provided and transported securely, plays a crucial and accelerating role towards a green hydrogen economy in the Netherlands and in Europe. The port of Den Helder looks to be a perfect starting point due to its unique location close to the numerous offshore platforms, gas or otherwise, in the North Sea, the availability and possible reuse of the current gas infrastructure and its central position in relation to future offshore wind farms in the North Sea.
A blue hydrogen factory is in line with the first steps towards connecting industrial clusters and hubs in the Netherlands. It is the starting point of an infrastructural ‘backbone’ for transportation of future green hydrogen. A blue hydrogen plant in the Den Helder area contributes to the acceleration of the Dutch and European hydrogen backbone.
Via blue to green
Major projects have been announced in the Netherlands that focus on the production of green hydrogen. Various industrial clusters are now working on replacing their local ‘grey’ (from natural gas) hydrogen production with blue and green hydrogen, with generation geared to the local demand for hydrogen. These ‘point-2-point’ solutions, however, do nothing to stimulate the construction of a hydrogen backbone. Neither does the timeframe for green hydrogen. The central production of blue hydrogen can play an accelerating role in the realisation of a sustainable hydrogen economy. A nationwide infrastructure will accelerate the economic feasibility of CO2-free hydrogen and make the reduction targets for 2030 achievable.
European hydrogen backbone
Gas network operators from nine European countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Italy,Denmark, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Spain and France) jointly want to create a European hydrogen network. In July 2020, a report was published in which the participating countries presented their views on this network, known as the European hydrogen backbone.This document offers a perspective for the development of a European hydrogen market.
If the suitable locations in the Netherlands work together, we can, with the help of the existing gas infrastructure at Den Helder, become the market leader in Europe and put the hydrogen backbone in place.- Edward Stigter | regional minister for Climate & Energy of the Province of Noord-Holland
Carbon Capture Storage
In 2019, Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) was identified by the European Union as a necessary technology to achieve the 2030 climate targets. An infrastructure to transport and store the captured CO2 is essential for the production of blue hydrogen. The transport and storage costs of CO2 are also an important factor in the business case for blue hydrogen. In order to realise a hydrogen network in the Netherlands and Europe, the production of blue hydrogen must take place at a central port location such as Den Helder. From there, CO2 suitable for storage can be transported by pipeline to an offshore field.
The amount of CO2 to be stored in the coming decades is well within the total storage capacity of the Netherlands. This is estimated at 1600 megatons for all offshore gas fields in the North Sea. In order to achieve the climate targets, it is essential that the entire chain from CO2 capture to storage is economically viable. This feasibility is determined not only by the rates for transport and storage but also by the costs of capture.
The report ‘Gateway to a CO2-free hydrogen economy’ has been initiated by H2Gateway, a partnership of eight parties consisting of the Province of North Holland, Municipality of the city of Den Helder, New Energy Coalition, GasTerra, GasUnie, NAM, Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Noord-Holland Noord and Port of Den Helder.
H2Gateway aims to give a strong impetus to the achievement of the national climate targets