BotH2nia went to the Netherlands, and what did we learn?

December 13, 2022

Press release from BotH2nia

Here are my top nine takeaways from a four-day visit to Rotterdam and Amsterdam during the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference 2022 (OEEC) as part of the delegation invited by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO):

BotH2nia went to the Netherlands, and what did we learn?

  • Phasing out fossil fuels and materials in the industry leads to a geopolitical redesign of energy flows. The ports and countries in the solar belt play a crucial role in this.
  • Ramping up offshore wind and hydrogen requires clear governance. In the Netherlands, “roadmap” stands for “promise.” There is no need for market actors to guess what will happen and when.
  • Transporting the hydrogen will require multiple storage solutions in logistic hotspots like ports. Retrofitting the existing capacity is a good place to start planning. It’s not automatically bad either if neighboring ports have somewhat similar kinds of facilities. Instead, it can be good for the security of supply.
  • Listening to different speakers during the four-day visit, ammonia and LOHC (liquid organic hydrogen carriers like toluene) sounded like the most promising hydrogen carriers when the end use is hydrogen.
  • Methanol again has an existing global market. It is needed as such, for example, in the chemical industry. One counterargument for turning green hydrogen into methanol to be used as fuel was its carbon content.
  • Some actors saw liquid hydrogen as a distant future at its best. Some others have prepared themselves for that future already. E-methane was barely mentioned, even if it’s seen in Finland as one of the most promising e-fuels, as it can be used in existing vehicles.
  • Hydrogen has been transported through local pipelines and stored at industrial sites for decades. It’s not a totally new research question. Commercial players like Koole Terminal and Zenith are already building storage capacity—a note for those looking for benchmarks and learnings. Strohm can provide an example of a new kind of hydrogen pipeline—tested and validated for years in the oil and gas industry.
  • Hydrogen handling experience has been accumulating for decades in certain businesses within the chemical industry. Transferring their knowledge to new actors entering the hydrogen market is critical regarding safety.
  • Visitor centers like RDM in Rotterdam and ETCA Shell lab in Amsterdam do a great job of showing instead of telling how innovation smells and what an electrolyzer or a hydrogen filling station looks like.

There are many kinds of players facilitating the growth of the hydrogen economy. Ministries, ports and even commercial industry site owners are building business ecosystems: hand-picking actors, introducing them to each other and supporting them in building projects.

But who is selling the created value chains to potential new sites? Is it a task of trade promotion organizations, the businesses that lead these ecosystems, or the new sites that wish to be found? And who is preparing these sites, making them aware of their opportunities, and teaching them what to prepare for and expect?

Suddenly it looks like the goal of putting Northern Scandinavia on the European hydrogen maps is within reach. After that, *BotH2nia’s raison d’être might be to look for answers to the questions above.

*BotH2nia is a brand for cross-border, public-private cooperation in hydrogen-related questions in the Baltic Sea area. It is being conceptualized and validated in a two-year project called “Kansallinen vetyverkosto” (National hydrogen network, 2022–2023). The project is funded by its 42 member organizations from the public sector and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment of Finland through the Council of Oulu Region. The project coordinator is Raahe Region Development.  

Originally published on 12 December.

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