To begin with, the study confirms what we actually already knew: the rapid construction of a green hydrogen supply chain in north-western Europe based on offshore wind power is an essential element in achieving our ambition to make our energy system climate-neutral by 2050. NortH2’s large-scale and integrated approach can make green hydrogen as a feedstock or as a source of heat for industrial purposes secure and competitive, and this way make the large industrial consumers of molecules greener. This is essential for business processes where electricity is not an option, but also attractive for processes where conversion to electricity is possible, but where this would require a lot of modifications and cost a lot of time and money. Calculations suggest that hydrogen is attractive not only from a climate perspective, but also in terms of costs.
Furthermore, the hydrogen supply chain will also green the energy system of electrons and molecules, make it more flexible, balance it, and keep it affordable. The offshore wind energy required for this is in addition to that in the existing plans and will therefore not syphon off any of the currently planned green electricity.
Another benefit of NortH2 giving large-scale green hydrogen a good kick-start is that this will rapidly bring down the costs of electrolysis and drive a flourishing hydrogen market. This can significantly lower the transition costs that society will have to bear. Adapting the existing natural gas network to operate as a hydrogen backbone that connects large industrial clusters in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium will also deliver significant cost savings.
The northern region of the Netherlands, with an ideal seaport close to the needed wind-farm locations, would seem to be the logical place to set sail towards realising our European ambition. Preparations are already being made here for the storage of hydrogen in empty salt caverns. In the first phase, onshore electrolysis near the port is the most cost-efficient solution; towards 2030 we will also focus on offshore electrolysis.
In all of this, constructive collaboration between developers, industry and government bodies is essential. Only that way can we hope to achieve the ambitions of the Paris Agreement within the set time frames and at a price that is the most favourable to society. It was with this in mind that, right from the start, NortH2 was looking for a broad international knowledge base, a search that recently resulted in Equinor and RWE joining the project. We are in discussions with the authorities about the needed regulations, market stimulation and grants.
Our ambition is that, working along these lines, by 2030 we will be converting 4GW of offshore wind energy into green hydrogen per year, and that we can then soon increase this to more than 10GW in 2040. The wind power will then be generated with 12MW wind turbines, in the second phase even 15MW, and brought ashore over large power cables. The electrolyser in Eemshaven will be constructed from 100MW modules.
So, no showstoppers, no reason not to proceed. After the summer, we would be happy to update you on the results of the second phase of our feasibility study.