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Hydrogen developments in Europe highlight its versatility and its role in decarbonising the transport and energy sectors.

By May 4, 2023 No Comments

Hydrogen is now recognised as a key player in the race to reduce global emissions.

The automotive sector and in particular the heavy-duty, off-highway and marine sectors are investing heavily in research and development in hydrogen. Furthermore, investment in hydrogen to support the decarbonisation of gas networks and increase energy demand has been steadily increasing.

The European Union and European Commission have continued to support the development of a hydrogen economy.

The recognition of hydrogen as a future fuel for a broad spectrum of applications, for the automotive industry and for heating networks, was given a boost when on the 27th of March 23 European Union nations agreed to install hydrogen fuelling stations in all major cities and every 200km along core routes.

Following an agreement between the Council of ministers and the European Parliament the new Regulation for the deployment of the alternative fuel infrastructure regulation was reached.

The agreement saw EU states agree to build hydrogen fuelling stations in all major cities and at least every 200km along the core Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

The regulation stipulates that the hydrogen refuelling infrastructure can serve both cars and heavy-duty vehicles such as buses and trucks and must be deployed from 2030 in all “urban nodes” — an EU term for 424 major cities in the bloc with ports, airports and rail terminals. (1)

Bearing this in mind, there is clearly a need for a considerable increase in the production of hydrogen and in particular green hydrogen produced from renewable energy sources.

Highlighting the interest in hydrogen versatility, a recent report from LCP Delta recognised that the total installed capacity of hydrogen installations across Europe could exceed 1GW for the first time in 2023.

The United Kingdom and Germany will play pivotal roles in creating significant milestones in hydrogen production for the European renewable energy market.

Both countries have over 400MW of projects in place for 2023, potentially bringing the total installed hydrogen capacity across Europe from around 236MW in 2022 to over 2GW in 2023. The report also indicates that increases in hydrogen capacity could reach over 22GW by the end of 2027.

As part of the United Kingdom’s role in ramping up the hydrogen economy, Ireland is being pitched as a contender for being able to produce the cheapest green hydrogen in Europe by 2030.

Ireland’s competitive advantage stems from its high wind speeds, particularly in the west, compared to other European countries, and rising congestion within the electricity transmission system. (2)

Production under optimal conditions could result in a levelized cost of €3.50/kgH2 (real 2021) in 2030, 8% lower than optimal production costs in Spain and 35% lower than in Germany. (2)

Considering this, the Irish government aims to install 2GW of offshore wind generation connected to electrolysers by 2030, which could produce up to 138kt of green hydrogen annually. (2)

As part of the European push for a green hydrogen economy, the Netherlands are making considerable progress in their hydrogen production capacity.

The Dutch government announced in March 2023 that they have approved a site for what will become the world’s largest offshore hydrogen production project. The Ten noorden van de Waddeneilanden offshore wind development site has been deemed the most suitable area for providing 500 MW of electrolysis capacity and for the transport of green hydrogen to land.

The project, which is said to mark the first application of offshore hydrogen production on a large scale, is planned to be operational in 2031. (4)

The Ten noorden van de Waddeneilanden green hydrogen project will be the first that connects to Gasunie’s offshore hydrogen transport network, planned to be built to bring large quantities of hydrogen ashore and to connect to the onshore hydrogen network. (4)

To ensure that the Dutch Government can reach their green hydrogen targets, they will in the interim develop a smaller, pilot project with an electrolysis capacity of between 50 MW and 100 MW.

Ten noorden van de Waddeneilanden is just one of the sites the Netherlands Government have earmarked for new offshore wind farms, which could bring up to 13.4 GW of combined capacity across nine sites.

Further proof of the Netherlands investment in a green hydrogen economy came on the 25th March 23 when the Sinnewetterstof project was officially opened in Oosterwolde.

The project converts solar energy from a nearby solar park into hydrogen which is then distributed by sustainable fuel producer OG Clean Fuels to its hydrogen filling stations in the Netherlands.

During the Sinnewetterstof project, solar energy is converted into hydrogen with an electrolyser at times when there is a surplus of solar energy available. In this way, the project contributes to solving the grid congestion problem in the Netherland. (5)

It is expected that the Sinnewetterstof project will produce 125.000 kilograms of hydrogen annually, enough hydrogen for about 10 million kilometres of car trips.

The EU commission and independent nations recognise the part hydrogen can play in decarbonising transport and in particular the heavy-duty sector. Therefore, if the transport sector and the energy sector recognise the value of hydrogen as an important future fuel, how can we ensure that green hydrogen production is increased to keep up with demand?

Written by Katy Mason for and on behalf of Dolphin N2.