The construction of the first section of a 1,200-kilometer national hydrogen network began near Rotterdam. Officials said the Netherlands would be the first country in Europe with such infrastructure.
Nederlandse Gasunie, the Dutch gas infrastructure and transmission operator, marked the beginning of the installation of a 30-kilometer hydrogen pipeline. It is the first part of a planned national network of 1,200 kilometers, valued at EUR 1.5 billion.
The first section, worth EUR 100 million, will run from the new port and industrial park Tweede Maasvlakte (Maasvlakte 2) near Rotterdam to Shell’s gas refinery in Pernis. The European Union is rolling out hefty subsidies to stimulate both the production and demand for low-carbon hydrogen, also known as clean hydrogen. The industry is still in a very early phase and such technologies have a long way to become competitive against hydrogen produced from fossil gas.
The idea behind the project is to connect industrial hubs within the Netherlands as well as with Germany and Belgium. The network is envisaged with storage facilities including a salt cavern in the country’s north.
Hydrogen infrastructure opens way for renewable energy investments
Gasunie is conducting the project through its subsidiary HyNetwork Services, which selected Visser en Smit Hanab as the contractor for the current phase. The company said the hydrogen network, set to become the first in Europe, would enable the establishment of a major renewable energy hub in the country.
Electricity from wind parks and solar farms is used in electrolyzers to produce green hydrogen by splitting water molecules. If the facility is powered by nuclear energy, the product is called pink hydrogen. A low-carbon version – blue hydrogen – can also be produced directly from fossil gas, but only if carbon dioxide emitted during the process is captured and permanently stored.
Repurposing existing gas lines is 75% cheaper than making new ones
The first segment of the new grid is scheduled to come online in 2025. Gasunie pointed out that 85% of the system would be made from repurposed natural gas pipelines. The solution is 75% cheaper than making new infrastructure, according to its calculations.
The EU is developing its European Hydrogen Backbone initiative for 28,000 kilometers of hydrogen lines to be installed by the end of the decade. The ambition is to almost double the network in the following ten years, to 53,000 kilometers.
As for other developments in the sector, German transmission system operators OGE (Open Gas Europe) and Nowega launched works two weeks ago on converting a 46-kilometer pipeline in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia from fossil gas to hydrogen. The project is expected to be finished in 2025 as well. In addition, Nowega is about to start the conversion of an adjacent line.