01 Jul 2020

Rotterdam Could be a Leading International Hub for Hydrogen

01 Jul 2020  by Joanna Sampson   

Rotterdam has the potential to establish itself as a leading international hub for hydrogen, says new report by Dutch Research Institute For Transitions (DRIFT).

Hydrogen for the Port of Rotterdam in an International Context; a Plea for Leadership, written at the invitation of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, states that by 2050, local dependence on imported power can run up to 60% in Northwest Europe – and in the Netherlands even to as high as 75%.

The port of Rotterdam is uniquely positioned to develop into Northwest Europe’s leading hydrogen hub, with green hydrogen as a key pillar. But this position shouldn’t be taken for granted.

According to the report, it is important to not only invest in hydrogen consumption and production at an early stage, but also – indeed, above all – in the import and trade of this product.

Professor Jan Rotmans, of DRIFT, said parties should not only invest in green hydrogen over the next decade but also in blue hydrogen, which is produced using natural gas.

The carbon that is released during this process is immediately captured and stored in reservoirs in the sea bed.

“The progression from blue to green hydrogen is inevitable if we intend to develop the required mass and volume – both at the demand and at the supply ends,” Rotmans said.

“In Rotterdam’s case, this step will play a crucial part in both reducing the emissions of its industrial sector and simultaneously retaining its existing status as energy port.”

For the moment, green hydrogen is still a relatively expensive option, and over the next ten years, there will not be enough green power to enable the large-scale production of hydrogen.

In many cases, it is still impossible to develop a profitable business case for projects in this area.

In this light, the report includes a recommendation to the government to actively pre-finance projects via a public-private investment fund.

This requires combined tendering schemes that explicitly link the realisation of wind farms to the production of green hydrogen.

Port Authority CEO Allard Castelein said, “Hydrogen will play a central part in the new, carbon-neutral economy. It will also provide Rotterdam with the opportunity to continue its key role in the Dutch economy as an international energy hub.”

“To achieve these objectives, we are working on a series of concrete projects along the entire chain, from production and infrastructure to consumption and import.”

“The DRIFT report both confirms and enriches our approach in this area, and underlines the importance of the projects we are working on.”

Upcoming projects in Rotterdam include the realisation of electrolysers by Shell, BP and Nouryon for the production of green hydrogen, a blue hydrogen facility by the H-vision consortium, and the construction of a dedicated hydrogen pipeline that runs straight through the port area.

In Rotmans’ analysis, scaling up hydrogen supply and demand will prove of crucial importance – a process that is both lengthy and requires large-scale investments.

Port Vice Mayor Arjan van Gils confirms hydrogen’s importance to Rotterdam: “As city government, we are pleased to help make our port and industrial sector more sustainable.”

“Hydrogen will play an important part in renewing our economy and creating new employment in the region, and it will help us to realise our climate targets.”

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