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Greater Rotterdam – The Hague area is ideally positioned as a European Hydrogen Hub

The Netherlands is highly ambitious about hydrogen, and is investing heavily into the local ecosystem. The Greater Rotterdam – The Hague area is well positioned as a European hydrogen hub: the strong industry is bringing supply and demand close together and the existing infrastructure can be used for hydrogen transport. Moreover, the region is active in all aspects of the hydrogen supply chain: local production and import, storage and transit, and application in various sectors. And that is unique in the Netherlands and in Europe.

Europes Hydrogen Hub

Currently The Netherlands uses 800 kilotons of hydrogen per year. By 2050, this is expected to rise to 14 million tons (Mt). Not to mention Germany’s hydrogen needs in 2050: 24 Mt. With the port of Rotterdam, the Greater Rotterdam – The Hague area plays an important role in Europe in realizing the climate and energy transition. No less than a third of the CO2 emissions of the Netherlands are emitted in the Zuid-Holland region. Hydrogen will play a crucial role in reducing this, and the Greater Rotterdam – The Hague area is committed to the development of hydrogen production and infrastructure and encourages the use of hydrogen as a raw material and energy carrier for industry and mobility. Rotterdam’s port complex is well positioned to contribute significantly to enabling large-scale production and adoption of hydrogen solutions. The Province of Zuid-Holland together with partners is working on the development of the port of Rotterdam and the surrounding region as a European Hub for Hydrogen.

The Greater Rotterdam – The Hague area has the entire ecosystem in one region

While expert opinions differ about what are the most viable production and distribution methods and use cases for hydrogen, there is consensus about its indispensable value in the quest for a carbon net-zero future. Green hydrogen plays a key role in the transition to sustainable industry and mobility. Hydrogen is indispensable in making industry more sustainable, especially in the port and for transit to the hinterland. For example, the local hydrogen demand in 2050 will be around 14 Mt kilotons, and the hydrogen demand of our eastern neighbors will have increased to 24 Mt in 2050. Heavy road transport, the maritime industry and aviation also invest heavily in the use of hydrogen or its derived fuels. There are therefore enormous business opportunities for the Zuid-Holland hydrogen hub. The transition to hydrogen will also create new jobs, reduce climate change and improve air quality.

What particularly strengthens the Zuid-Holland innovation system for hydrogen is that all elements in the value chain are already present and can only grow in the coming years. In the long run, hydrogen will be produced and used on a large scale, and also fully imported and transported to the rest of Europe. Zuid-Holland has a very strong knowledge position with universities, colleges, knowledge institutions sand training institutes. Most of the technological manufacturing industry in the Netherlands is also located in this region. This offers opportunities to make components and systems for hydrogen production (electrolysers), as well as for the transport and application of hydrogen, and to develop local solutions and businesses for the digitization and automation of the hydrogen economy.

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First region to start large-scale hydrogen production

In 2023, Rotterdam – The Hague area will be the first region in the Netherlands to start large-scale production of green hydrogen on Maasvlakte II. To give the Netherlands an international leading position as a hydrogen hub for Europe, the region needs help from the government. The investments are necessary for pipelines from Rotterdam via Chemelot to the Ruhr area and for the first green hydrogen factories that will be put into production in 2023 and 2025. Applications for both projects are with the national growth fund.

But production alone will not allow the Netherlands to maintain its current position as a European energy hub. The demand from the Netherlands and the rest of Europe is many times greater than what we can produce in the Netherlands. In 2050, most of the hydrogen will therefore be imported. This is made possible due to the prominent position of the Port of Rotterdam as an energy port: the port of Rotterdam currently supplies Europe with no less than 13% of the total European energy demand. Now this is still largely fossil based.

This puts Rotterdam in an ideal position to play a central role in the green hydrogen economy in Europe. The region is working to make the port of Rotterdam a Hydrogen Hub connected to the national and international markets. This should lead to realise the ambition to develop the port of Rotterdam and the industry in the region and connected market to the largest sustainable hydrogen HUB of Europe. In this hub, large scale import, export, production, conversion and storage as well as utilization of hydrogen takes place.

Because of its geolocation and historical function, Port of Rotterdam has a unique combination of extensive import and export infrastructure, local industrial suppliers and buyers, technology innovators and a supportive government. This creates unparalleled opportunities for a wealthy variety of pilots throughout the hydrogen supply chain. This is further supported by the excellent innovation infrastructure in the region. Fieldlabs PlantOne, Fieldlab Industrial Electrification, Rotterdam The Hague Innovation Airport and the Green Village provide facilities and expertise, while InnovationQuarter-led innovation programs Energy & Climate and Smart Manufacturing Industrial Application in Zuid-Holland (SMITZH) provide funding for collaborative pilot projects. Successful pilots can then effortlessly scale up production to industrial scale, using the available infrastructure for distribution of its supply.

Port of Rotterdam has a long tradition as a petrochemical hub. It’s home to a large cluster of petrochem companies in full transition to contribute to a net-zero future. As a result, the area has developed an extensive piping infrastructure to exchange and upcycle residual flows, such as CO2, O2, methane and ammonia among each other. This piping infrastructure is also extended all the way into the Belgian and German hinterland, supplying local industries with fuel and feedstock. This complements the major shipping infrastructure of the Port of Rotterdam, processing a throughput of 192 M tons of liquid bulk in 2020.

What is already happening in Rotterdam – The Hague area?

Green hydrogen supply

Grey hydrogen has been manufactured at the port area for decades, used as feedstock in the local refineries. While this grey hydrogen is being substituted by green hydrogen, the supply must also be scaled up to meet increasing demand created by new manufacturing sites for synthetic fuels. Local production of green hydrogen is estimated to reach 2 GW by 2030, driven by the facilities of Nourion, Shell, BP and NESTE at the Rotterdam Maasvlakte, while hydrogen import is expected to grow to 200 K ton per annum.

Green hydrogen production requires a steady and large supply of renewable energy. There is a cap on the maximum capacity of renewable energy supply in Rotterdam. Importing hydrogen from areas with an abundance of wind, solar or hydraulic power is therefore required to meet the demand for green hydrogen. With its excellent geolocation and infrastructure, Port of Rotterdam is excellently positioned to facilitate the transport between international supply and demand.

Various projects in the Greater Rotterdam – The Hague area.

For example, there is the H-vision project: a new hydrogen factory that will use residual gases from refining to produce blue hydrogen. That means low-CO2 hydrogen production that can be used as a fuel with which the industry can produce heat on a large scale before 2030 to make products. In addition, various projects such as H2Sines are working on the import of liquid green hydrogen from Portugal to Rotterdam (formerly: project Green Flamingo) and the import of hydrogen from Northern Spain to Rotterdam.

When it comes to applying hydrogen for heavy road transport, shipping and aviation, various projects are underway in the Greater Rotterdam – The Hague area:

  • 1000 trucks will run on clean hydrogen between Rotterdam, Antwerp and Duisburg in a few years’ time.
  • >10 inland vessels will sail on hydrogen in 2030 in the Greater Rotterdam-The Hague area (project RH2INE).
  • We produce clean e-kerosene in the region by combining hydrogen and CO2 (Sustainable Aviation Fuels project).
  • In 2028, the first large commercial aircraft powered by green hydrogen will fly from Rotterdam – the HAPPS project is a large, fully Dutch public-private partnership.
  • 5 offshore wind farms with a capacity of 4500 MW will be built off the coast of Zuid-Holland in the coming years.
  • Experiments are being conducted with promising applications of hydrogen in the built environment in the Greater Rotterdam – The Hague area.

In addition to making it happen, Rotterdam – The Hague area also has a strong knowledge position: at the collaborating universities of Delft, Rotterdam and Leiden alone, and at the research institute TNO, more than 1600 FTEs work on energy issues together with the industry, from lab scale to pilot scale.
In addition, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, the STC, the RDM and the Fieldlab Industrial Electrification are working on the application of hydrogen.

Source: Economic Board Zuid-Holland


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Loek Becker Hoff

Loek Becker Hoff

Teamlead International Trade



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