Green hydrogen supply chain
NortH2 aims to set up a future-oriented integrated hydrogen supply chain that ranges from production to storage and from transport to serving industry clusters and other high-volume consumers of molecules.
We are going to harvest wind offshore on a massive scale and use all of it to produce green hydrogen, so as to be able to get started with a stable green hydrogen supply chain in good time and on a large scale.
Indispensable in a reliable energy system
However, while important, there is more to hydrogen than its application as a resource or fuel for mobility or industry. There is growing consensus that hydrogen will play an indispensable role in the energy system of the future. Hydrogen will allow us to keep the total energy system reliable and flexible.
In studies such as the 2050 Infrastructure Outlook (2019), IIRR 3050 (2020) and Phase II – Pathway to 2050 (2020), TenneT and Gasunie highlight the need for an integrated approach to balancing gas and power grids. The ‘power-to-gas’ concept is an indispensable mainstay in this respect. NortH2 is, in essence, the most large-scale green power-to-gas application, which Europe needs for the creation of a sustainable, affordable and balanced energy system.
The energy system of the future
In the future, the energy system will look very different from today’s energy system. More energy from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, will enter the mix and will be available in varying quantities, which will lead to increasing imbalance between supply and demand. As a result, the need for flexibility will grow and become much greater than is currently the case. This calls for a different set-up of new and existing energy systems.
Security of supply hinges on large-scale seasonal energy storage. Gaseous energy is easier to store than electricity. Therefore, a smart and flexible energy system requires an ability to switch between various forms of energy and energy systems, like between gas, heating and electricity. In such a system, we also need to be able to mutually convert different forms of energy. One example is the power-to-gas conversion concept mentioned above, which uses (renewable) power to produce hydrogen through a process called electrolysis.
Energy not only needs to be available in the right form and at the right time, it also has to be transported to the end user. The advantage of the transmission of gases such as hydrogen is that it is cheaper and can be done in larger volumes. And the Netherlands already has gas transmission infrastructure in place that has been built in such a way that there are few to no bottlenecks whenever there are fluctuations in energy supply and demand. The infrastructure is both robust and flexible.
Gasunie, TenneT and the regional transmission system operators are, therefore, focusing on the question of how to enable smart combinations of the various infrastructures en route to a stable and flexible energy system that strikes the right balance between sustainability, reliability and affordability. This combined use of infrastructures makes it possible to harness existing infrastructures and avoid unnecessary investments.
Roles for hydrogen
To recap, green hydrogen will in the future fulfil the following crucial roles:
- Optimum utilisation and balancing of wind and solar power.
- Efficient transmission within the Netherlands and Germany using the existing natural gas network.
- Efficient storage in empty caverns to be able to flexibly respond to supply and demand fluctuations.
- Decarbonisation of process heating and flexible electricity production in industry.
- Decarbonisation of (heavy goods) transport and mobility.