Shell is the first company to sign an agreement to use HyTransPortRTM. This is the hydrogen pipeline in the port of Rotterdam that Gasunie is laying in collaboration with the Port of Rotterdam Authority from the Maasvlakte to Pernis in order to make the industry in the port more sustainable. Hydrogen must become the fossil-free replacement for fuels and raw materials where CO2 is released during production or use. Shell becomes the pipeline’s first customer. Holland Hydrogen I, the electrolyser that Shell is going to build at the Conversion Park on the Maasvlakte, will be connected to the pipeline. The hydrogen is transported from the conversion park to Pernis via the HyTransPortRTM pipeline. The hydrogen pipeline will be in use at the end of 2024, early 2025. In time, the pipeline will be connected to the national and international hydrogen network.

Milestone in making the port of Rotterdam sustainable

“The contract with Shell is an important step. Shell has great ambitions in the field of hydrogen. Infrastructure such as HyTransPort is crucial for the hydrogen economy in the port of Rotterdam to get off the ground. This is a clear sign that steps are being taken to make the port of Rotterdam more sustainable,” said Jeroen Steens, Director Commercial Delivery at the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

In the first half of 2022, Shell will take the final investment decision for the Holland Hydrogen I electrolyser on the Second Maasvlakte. The final investment decision for the HyTransPortRTM hydrogen pipeline will then also be taken around that time.

HyTransPortRTM

The hydrogen pipeline will be laid over a route of 32 kilometers. The pipe will have a diameter of 24 inches (61cm). The switch from fossil fuels and raw materials to CO2-free hydrogen should result in a first significant reduction in CO2 emissions. Hydrogen is used, among other things, as an energy carrier for industrial processes where electrification cannot meet the requirements, such as high temperature processes in the petrochemical industry, and as a raw material for chemical products. “As part of the future energy mix, sustainable hydrogen will make an important contribution to reducing CO2 emissions in industry,” says Helmie Botter, Business Development manager for hydrogen at Gasunie.
This first phase of the transport pipeline is an important link for the sustainable hydrogen economy in the Netherlands and Northwest Europe. In time, HyTransPortRTM will connect to the national and international hydrogen transport system.
The number of hydrogen initiatives in the port of Rotterdam is growing. Space has been planned for a conversion park on the Maasvlakte, where hydrogen can be produced for the port of Rotterdam. Various parties are also developing plans for the import of green hydrogen. Through the pipeline of HyTransPortRTM, the hydrogen can be transported between producers, users and suppliers in a safe and efficient manner.

Electrolyser Shell

With the construction of a 200 MW hydrogen factory Shell Hydrogen Holland I on Maasvlakte 2 near Rotterdam, green hydrogen will be produced for industry and transport using electricity from the Hollandse Kust (North) offshore wind farm. “Nobody in the world has done this on this scale yet,” said Lijs Groenendaal, general manager of the project. Shell will make a final investment decision in the first half of 2022 for the construction of the electrolyser, which must be ready by the end of 2024.
The design of the electrolyser is by Kraaijevanger and is completely circular.

The business community in the Rotterdam port area is making an effort to switch from fossil energy and raw materials to alternatives. Deltalinqs entrepreneurs’ association is pleased with the investment in HyTransPort, the hydrogen pipeline right through the port area. “It shows companies that they mean business.”

“Oil will eventually disappear from the petrochemical processes. As a fuel and as a raw material”, says Alice Krekt bluntly. “It is therefore important for the companies in the Rotterdam port and industrial complex that they make the switch from fossil fuels and raw materials to sustainable alternatives (energy transition).” Alternatives that will not run out and that ensure that the industry emits drastically less CO2 (climate transition). Hydrogen is such an alternative. It can be used as fuel and as raw material.

The entrepreneurs’ representative

Krekt is director of the Climate Program of Deltalinqs. About 700 companies from the logistics, port and industry in Rotterdam are affiliated with the Deltalinqs entrepreneurs’ association. This makes it the representative of about 95 percent of the companies in the port area. The Climate Program helps companies with the energy and raw materials transition.

Fossil fuel and raw material

The activities in the Rotterdam port area require a great deal of energy, and factories invest for the long term. That is why the switch from fossil energy to clean forms of energy was not made lightly. Transshipment and transport require energy, but it is mainly industry that consumes a lot. Refineries split petroleum entering the port into different products. Part of this is destined for the petrochemical industry, which makes raw materials for plastics, for example. To do this, the long molecules from petroleum are cracked until they fall apart into smaller molecules. This requires high temperatures (often 2000 degrees Celsius or more). Heating is done with natural gas. In addition, the petrochemical industry uses natural gas to make hydrogen (H2), which serves as a raw material for cracking; By binding H2, the new, smaller molecules can be formed from petroleum.

Sustainable alternatives

“Even if fossil materials such as petroleum and natural gas disappear from the chemical industry, the process of breaking down and building up molecules will continue, but then with sustainable fuels and raw materials. What we therefore find very important is that a good alternative is available for natural gas, so that the industry can continue to use the high temperatures for cracking,” says Krekt.

Alice Krekt - Deltalinqs

Emissions almost halved

The Deltalinqs Climate Program, together with the port and industrial area in Moerdijk, aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 10 million tons in 2030 compared to 1990. That is almost a halving of emissions. Rotterdam industry can achieve a total of 20 to 25 percent of the CO2 reduction targets set in the Dutch Climate Agreement with a series of projects. In the Climate Agreement it has been agreed that as a country it will emit 48.7 million tons less CO2 by 2030 than in 1990.

As chair of the Climate Table Port and Industry for Rotterdam and Moerdijk, Alice Krekt is leading the progress of this sustainability process and discussing the preconditions for this with government authorities. “We want to reach that 10 million tons. But we do notice that the slow cabinet formation has an inhibiting effect. Regulations and financing arrangements are falling behind schedule.”

Electricity and hydrogen

Through the Climate Program, Deltalinqs is making an inventory of what the companies in the port of Rotterdam need for the energy and raw materials transition. For example, it shows where energy savings are possible, which forms of energy companies will use in the future, and which infrastructure is needed in the area. For example, Deltalinqs is working on electrification and hydrogen.

Krekt: “Electrification is important for sustainability, which is why we are also focusing on that. But for heavy industry it is not a total solution to the energy issue. High temperatures are not feasible with electricity. But that works very well with hydrogen as a fuel. The ambition of the companies in the port of Rotterdam is to use 20 million tons of hydrogen as raw material and fuel by 2050, fifty times as much as now.”

Grey, Blue, Green and Low Carbon

Almost all hydrogen currently used is grey hydrogen. This H2 is made from natural gas and this process releases CO2. If the released CO2 is stored in the soil, the end product is called blue hydrogen. Only if hydrogen is made from water, with the help of solar or wind energy, can it be called green hydrogen. There is also talk of ‘low-carbon’ hydrogen. The definitions of these differ, but a clear reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is an important characteristic.

H-vision: hydrogen from residual gas

Alice Krekt is also project director of H-vision, with which Deltalinqs and various companies from the Rotterdam port industrial area want to accelerate the availability of low-carbon hydrogen.

‘We want to make low-carbon hydrogen from industrial waste. This hydrogen should replace natural gas for heating.’

Alice Krekt - Deltalinqs

Residual gases are created during most chemical processes and it is very harmful to let them escape. They are now used again in the production processes. H-vision wants to collect the refinery gases centrally and use them to make low-carbon hydrogen. The CO2 released in this process will be stored by H-vision in empty gas fields in the seabed. The hydrogen that the two H-vision factories will produce can be used emission-free in the refining process.

Deltalinqs calls this low-carbon hydrogen indispensable for achieving the climate goals. Krekt: “H-vision’s hydrogen factories can save 2.7 million tons of CO2 emissions per year. That is almost 20 percent of what the total industry in the Netherlands must reduce in 2030 according to the Climate Agreement. Moreover, we are already laying a foundation for the hydrogen infrastructure for the future.”

A few engineering firms are working on a design for these hydrogen factories. A choice will be made from these proposals in 2022. The first factory should be operational in 2027.

According to Krekt, it is also necessary to quickly scale up the production of green hydrogen. There are already several initiatives for this. For example, Shell wants to have its first electrolysis plant running on the Maasvlakte by 2023 to produce green hydrogen from wind energy. Krekt: “Import is also necessary. Hydrogen made with solar energy in the Sahara is also green. Several companies are already working on innovations to transport hydrogen efficiently.”

Time is running out

Initiatives such as H-vision and other hydrogen plans by companies in the port encounter a slow central government, which, according to Krekt, is currently not showing any direction: “For example, 6 billion euros of European money is available to help companies that are now sticking their necks out with hydrogen. The national government must claim that. But that is not happening because of the long cabinet formation. Just as the government does not make certification agreements for imported hydrogen, for example. Or make a clear statement about the degree of purity that hydrogen must have for various applications. Time is running out. In the Rotterdam port and industry cluster, the technical installations of many companies are aligned. Companies must make agreements with each other if they want to invest in a new factory or convert a factory for a new application such as hydrogen. Once every five years there is a major investment round in new technology. If the government lingers too long, the next round of investment is over. Then we will miss the big blow with which we can achieve the climate goals for 2030,” warns Krekt.

HyTransPort decisive

As far as she is concerned, the government could take HyTransPort as an example; The Port of Rotterdam Authority is working with Hynetwork Services, a part of Gasunie specialized in hydrogen, on a hydrogen pipeline that runs from the new electrolysis plants on the Maasvlakte to Pernis. The 32-kilometer pipeline, with five branches to large hydrogen consumers, should be operational in 2024.

“It’s great that the Port of Rotterdam Authority is tackling this. This is a basic facility that is very necessary. Road transport of hydrogen would be particularly inefficient here,” says Krekt.

According to her, the construction has a catalytic effect. “There are still many uncertainties. There are no certifications yet. It is unknown where the pipe will connect to a national grid. Whether Germany will use a hydrogen network remains to be seen. The fact that the Port of Rotterdam Authority is taking this step gives us confidence as a business. The Port Authority’s practical approach, not just talking, but simply putting cash on the barrel… That is encouraging. It enables a multitude of investments by companies, bringing the hydrogen economy a step forward. It also shows companies: look, it’s serious, something is really happening. This ensures that the next step is taken in sustainability in the internal discussions at companies.”

Nature and Environment Federation South Holland (NMZH) has no doubts that the port of Rotterdam takes the energy transition seriously. According to NMZH, the hydrogen pipe of HyTransPort is indispensable for that transition. This does not mean that the environmental organization does not take a critical look at the construction. Alex Ouwehand explains this.

“The Rotterdam port area is extremely fossil-driven. The business community and the Port of Rotterdam understand very well that they need to get rid of this dependence on fossil raw materials in order to remain a leader. We don’t need to get companies involved in that thought. That realization is already there.” Alex Ouwehand, director of the Nature and Environment Federation South Holland (NMZH), has no doubts that the port takes the energy transition seriously.

At the end of 2019, the Rotterdam city council approved the revised Port Vision 2030, which includes the ambition to be not only the most important port and industrial complex by 2030, but also a leader in sustainability and efficiency. Two pillars underpin that ambition: improving air quality and minimizing CO2 emissions. While the Rotterdam port and industrial complex still accounted for 18 percent of Dutch CO2 emissions in 2019, it wants to work towards CO2 neutrality by 2050.

Hydrogen Pact

“We need hydrogen to make the leap forward to less fossil fuel consumption,” says Ouwehand. A good CO2 reduction program requires meaningful steps. According to him, the hydrogen pipeline of HyTransPort, which must be in the pipeline street from Maasvlakte to Pernis by the end of 2024, start of 2025, is such a step.

Like the Port of Rotterdam authority and Gasunie, NMZH participates in the Hydrogen Coalition. This is an initiative of 39 network operators, industrial parties, energy companies, governments, nature and environmental organizations and scientists. This coalition presented the Hydrogen Pact in spring 2021. It is a call to allocate a budget of 2.5 billion euros in the coalition agreement to invest in hydrogen infrastructure, so that a basic network in the Netherlands is ready by 2025.

Alex Ouwehand - Zuid-Hollandse Milieu Federatie

Critical look

Ouwehand emphasizes that hydrogen is not the only solution. “Wind and solar energy and other sustainable energy sources are also needed. And, above all, less energy will have to be used. But green hydrogen is definitely one of the most important energy carriers of the future. For industry – as fuel and raw material – and for heavy transport. And to store energy. Electrification is more obvious for heating homes, private transport and small-scale distribution. Electricity can provide enough power for homes and cars.”

Green hydrogen is made with sustainable wind or solar energy. No CO2 is released during the production of green hydrogen. Most hydrogen currently used in the Netherlands is grey hydrogen, made from natural gas. This does release CO2. When that CO2 is stored, the hydrogen is called blue.

The fact that the NMZH is in favour of the construction of a network of hydrogen pipelines, and therefore also of the 32 kilometre long pipeline of HyTransPort, does not mean that the organization does not take a critical look at its construction and management. What does NMZH pay attention to? Ouwehand: “We want the construction to be done carefully. We ask for circularity. And we insist that the management of the hydrogen network will not be tradable.”

Nature in the harbour

The Rotterdam port area is adjacent to sensitive Natura 2000 areas. “Besides the fact that nature and the port are located next to each other, they can also integrate. There are many opportunities to realize nature in the port area. That is already happening. You can see it in the seals, the bird colonies and the nature around Rozenburg,” says Ouwehand.

“The impact of the port and industrial area is greater than the square kilometres on which it is located. At Tata Steel you can see what happens when a large industrial complex does not treat its environment with care. Then trust is lost. The port and industry have an interest in robust nature in the area and in careful handling of nature and the environment. It gives them a ‘licence to produce’, social benevolence. The good news is that the port authority and many of the companies in the port and industrial complex share those principles. They are aware of their responsibility for the health of the people in this densely populated region and for nature.”

Bend

NMZH ensures that nature in the area is spared when building hydrogen factories and hydrogen infrastructure. “Electricity from offshore wind farms, needed for the production of green hydrogen, comes ashore on the Maasvlakte. It is important that this happens at one point. Central landfall disturbs nature less than landfall in more places and it results in less energy loss,” says Ouwehand. “Where the pipeline cuts through nature or green zones, we argue for a bend. Or another creative solution so that the natural value of the port on balance remains the same or improves. A colony of lesser black-backed gulls has previously been successfully relocated. That is possible again.”

“A colony of lesser black-backed gulls has moved here before. That’s possible again.”

Iconic project

As far as NMZH is concerned, laying the pipeline can only be done in a circular way. That is to say: with materials that can be reused and with contractors who use emission-free tools, so for example electrical machines instead of tools that run on diesel. “The legislation on that point is not that far yet. But it’s pretty easy to say, “I’m following the law, so I don’t have to exert myself any further.” Everyone has an interest in reducing CO2 and nitrogen emissions. Working completely emission free – without emissions – requires major investments from contractors. As a government, you can be a ‘launching customer’, the first customer to smooth out such an investment task. Do set strict requirements in the tender, but also offer compensation in return. The construction of this pipeline will be an iconic project. Use that to gain experience with circular construction.”

Boss of the pipe

In addition to dealing carefully with the environment and circular construction, NMZH is alert to a third point: control over the pipeline. Ouwehand: “It’s not just about making good use of the hydrogen that will flow through it. The issue of how to keep grey, blue and green hydrogen apart. Ensure that hydrogen is used efficiently, in other words in places where electrification is not possible. That’s all important. But even more important is the question: ‘Who is in charge of the pipeline?’ Ownership of the pipeline route in which the hydrogen pipeline will be installed is of enormous strategic importance. The Port of Rotterdam is issuing the land for the pipeline. The construction of the pipe is a public-private project. We argue that the land and the pipe remain the property of the port authority and that they cannot be traded. If this infrastructure comes into the hands of private companies or foreign governments, this could endanger the continuity of the hydrogen supply and pose a strategic disadvantage for the port of Rotterdam. The private and public interest must remain well separated. Fortunately, the House of Representatives is also starting to pay attention to these types of constructions.”

Good name

As a representative of nature and the environment, NMZH offers ‘cooperation’, brings social support, including through the affiliated organisations, and its good name can help companies to complete an investment.

Alex Ouwehand - NMZH over HyTransPort

To start with the latter: “We regularly write a letter of support for companies, a letter in which the NMZH expresses itself in favour of a green investment by a company. There are financing schemes for companies that want to become more sustainable. For some of these schemes, the opinion of an independent NGO is important. We look at the sustainability plans of companies and find something to do with it. If our opinion about a sustainable investment plan is positive, it helps such a company to get financing. This is how we help sustainability move forward.”

Such a process already contains thinking and connecting power. The same applies to the consultations in which NMZH participates or, for example, from the Hydrogen Coalition. “It is good to insist with several parties at the same time that certain rules or infrastructure must be introduced quickly.” NMZH also takes its own initiatives. In 2020, for example, it compared the sustainability of fifteen international seaports and the Dutch seaports together with research agency CE Delft.  It showed that although there are many plans waiting to be realised, the realization of the agreed CO2 reduction is still lagging behind. Significant steps will have to be taken in the coming years to achieve the goals for 2030.

“You can’t start communicating early enough”

Tip for support

When it comes to social support, Ouwehand has a tip: you can’t start communicating early enough. “It is simply important to be transparent and to provide good information, so that the port environment can adapt to the task faced by companies and the government. But it is also useful to avoid resistance during further development and realization. Nobody is against clean energy, but a windmill in the immediate vicinity of one’s own home often leads to one digging his heels in. Unfortunately, this is too often due to poor communication and insufficient organisation. If you explain the usefulness and necessity at an early stage and allow the environment to think along better, there is still room to listen to ideas and objections and to act on them. You will never convince everyone, but then the support is much greater,” says Ouwehand.

“In this way, the support of residents of Rozenburg, Pernis or Oostvoorne for the hydrogen pipe of HyTransPort is also bigger if they know what is at stake. Without this leadership, we cannot make the switch to green hydrogen, which is indispensable to achieve the climate goals and reduce CO2 emissions in the port and industrial area of Rotterdam to the agreed goal: climate neutrality in 2050.”

The Ministry of Economic Affairs & Climate and Hynetwork Services are organizing a webinar on Friday 15 October from 11 am to 1 pm on the development of a national hydrogen transport network. The webinar provides feedback on the results of the HyWay27 project. In addition, the results of the market consultation are presented. Finally, EZK and Hynetwork Services will discuss the steps that will be taken in the coming period to arrive at a transport network for hydrogen. The webinar is for all (market) parties interested in hydrogen.

The development of transport capacity for hydrogen is a crucial step to give hydrogen the desired key position in our economy and energy supply. These and other conclusions from this spring’s HyWay27 report were one of the reasons why the State Secretary for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy asked Gasunie to take on the development of this infrastructure. At the presentation of the budget plans for 2022 last Budget Day, the government announced that it would reserve €750 million for the development of the hydrogen transport network. An important step for the realization of this.

Registration and possibility to ask questions

You can register for the webinar via this link. The webinar is in Dutch. An English subtitled version will be available online after the broadcast. During the webinar, questions can be put to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy and Hynetwork Services. It is also possible to send in questions in advance. You can do this via info@HyWay27.nl.

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM), the independent regulator for properly functioning markets, has shed its light on the hydrogen infrastructure. ACM has issued a memorandum about the steps it believes are necessary for an effective, efficient and predictable market for hydrogen and the required infrastructure. In addition, ACM sees that an investment in a hydrogen infrastructure in areas such as the port of Rotterdam is an obvious choice.

Hydrogen represents an important role in our future energy supply and in achieving the climate goals. We are not there yet, and the market for hydrogen and transport for hydrogen is still in its infancy. The ACM states that government investments and any regulation should ‘breathe’ with the development of the hydrogen economy. The memorandum provided by ACM about the hydrogen infrastructure is a contribution to the development of ideas about the hydrogen market.

Invest just before the market

It is interesting that ACM argues in favor of investing step by step in the required infrastructure for hydrogen. The Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets sees that the demand for green hydrogen will come from industry. She states that the seaports in our country are the designated locations for the first infrastructure, partly because the industrial clusters where hydrogen is needed are often present in the ports. The ACM also notes that a connection between the chemical cluster Chemelot in Limburg and Rotterdam would make sense.

ACM recommends investing first in the infrastructure of these industry clusters. Then the risk of investing in unused hydrogen infrastructure is very small and investments can grow with the market. For the time being, ACM sees no reason for regulation of the hydrogen market. The current market for gray hydrogen mainly consists of direct contracts between producers and suppliers. ACM expects that this sustainable hydrogen will initially also be the case. In addition, consideration is currently being given to possible regulation of a European hydrogen market at a European level.

Preparations for the first 32 kilometres of hydrogen pipeline of HyTransPort, from Maasvlakte to Pernis, are on schedule. The DCMR Environmental Protection Agency is looking into the expected impact of all hydrogen plans in the region on the environment. Axel Pel, Programme Manager Sustainability Enhancement Industry at DCMR, explains the views of the Rijnmond Environmental Protection Agency on the new pipeline and on hydrogen as a green fuel. ‘We give sustainable initiatives the green carpet treatment.’ 

Do we really need hydrogen here?

‘The Netherlands wants its energy system to be carbon neutral by 2050. This will only be possible if we have abandoned the use of fossil fuels by then. Demand for energy is huge and can’t be met by electricity alone. Hydrogen is a good addition. It is easy to produce from water by means of electrolysis. This is a clean process, for no CO2 is released, and oxygen is the only by-product. Storing energy requires a molecule. The good news is that hydrogen is the perfect molecule. It is ideal for storing as well as transporting energy.’

Hydrogen requires new pipelines. Isn’t that unpractical?

‘It is true that the infrastructure has to be adjusted, and it remains to be seen if we can get hydrogen into every kitchen. For road transport, however, or as a fuel in the industry and for aircraft and vessels, green hydrogen is a fuel for the future. It is clean energy made from water with the help of green power generated by offshore wind farms. Hydrogen isn’t more dangerous or complex than natural gas, which we have been familiar with for decades.

Certainly, we need more pipelines and other infrastructure, but hydrogen pipelines are nothing new. Besides, part of the natural gas infrastructure could be used for hydrogen. The industry currently uses hydrogen for certain processes, the so-called grey hydrogen from natural gas, so there’s no need to develop much new technology for those pipelines.’

What is new, though, is the plant where Shell wants to make green hydrogen as from 2023.

‘Correct. It will be the largest plant in Europe with a capacity of 200 megawatts, ten times the amount of hydrogen plants today. A plant that large can provide five percent of hydrogen demand in Rijnmond. On Maasvlakte 2, where this electrolysis plant will be located, the Port of Rotterdam Authority has reserved space for another three of such massive green hydrogen plants and for two more elsewhere in the port. Now that Shell has led the way, more companies have grown interested in building a plant like this. Having a hydrogen hub in the Rotterdam port area is a major step in the energy transition.’

DCMR has the task to issue the permit for the plant. What are the criteria to be met?

‘As with all new plants, DCMR monitors whether all legislation and regulations on safety and the environment are complied with. The technology of this plant is not unknown, and no new regulations are required. Developing sustainable energy is perfectly consistent with the plans of the province of South Holland and the Municipality of Rotterdam. In that sense, it is not so exciting. On the other hand, hydrogen has never been made from water on such a large scale, so that is why we look at this carefully. Safety, noise and pollution – as well as good communication with the stakeholders in the surrounding area – are the key aspects we concentrate on in the permit procedure.

The safety risks of hydrogen are known. It’s a light, odourless, highly flammable gas, especially when it comes into contact with oxygen. You can compare it with natural gas, which is also transported under high pressure via pipelines throughout the country.

The compressors used for compressing the hydrogen gas are very noisy. We check if these noises are sufficiently muffled and that the parties comply with the standards and agreements about noise. Residents in Oostvoorne, the district closest to the hydrogen plant, want to sleep well.

The production of hydrogen does not contaminate the surrounding area. Far from it: oxygen is released. Maasvlakte 2 has a new, unpolluted soil. Some nitrogen will be emitted while the plant is under construction, though. The new Nitrogen Reduction and Nature Improvement Act includes an exemption clause that provides for this, so it is not considered in the permit procedure.’

Is DCMR also responsible for granting the permit for the pipeline?

‘In the Netherlands, the pipelines for the transport of gases under high pressure are built by Nederlandse Gasunie, which has the expertise and experience this takes. For HyTransPort, the hydrogen pipeline from Maasvlakte to Pernis, the Port of Rotterdam Authority cooperates with Hynetwork Services, which is specialised in hydrogen and part of Gasunie. The Municipality of Rotterdam issues the permit for the pipeline through the port. The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT), the supervisory body of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, checks the work performed by Gasunie. Only the coupling of the hydrogen plant to the first part of the pipeline is supervised by DCMR.’

What is the role of DCMR for people living along the pipeline?

‘At this moment, we are using a comprehensive environmental survey to examine the consequences of the construction for the environment and the surrounding area (the construction of the pipeline is within the zoning plan, which requires no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) -ed.-). What is more, Rijnmond already has a pipeline corridor, which can easily accommodate this hydrogen pipeline. This means that no new route is needed, and nature or building sites will not be jeopardised. From this perspective, the impact is fairly limited.

All the same, Rozenburg and Pernis residents will have an extra pipeline running along their backyard, with all the risks involved. So it is obvious that residents are adequately informed and receive answers to any questions they have. We urge the Port of Rotterdam Authority to consult with the residents transparently and in a timely manner, and the project team is doing this well.’

DCMR is the Environmental Protection Agency of South Holland, the Municipality of Rotterdam, and fifteen municipalities nearby. They recently had to submit their Regional Energy Strategy (RES -in Dutch-). These plans brim over with plans for sustainable energy. What is DCMR’s role in this?

‘We assist in realising these plans. DCMR gives the green carpet treatment to initiatives from companies that fit in with the energy transition of the province and municipalities. These sustainable plans are given priority in the permit procedure. We mobilise knowledge, we deploy experts who know the procedures and practice, and we use our network of services in the area. We will do our utmost to prevent procedures from causing delays to a good green plan. We don’t want to be an obstacle on the road to improved sustainability.

The idea for the hydrogen plant came to us via the Acceleration House (Versnellingshuis), an initiative of the Port of Rotterdam Authority and Deltalinqs, the employers’ organisation of the business community in the port. The Acceleration House ensures that a green plan lands on the right desks quickly, so that the necessary procedures can be complied with smoothly and the available subsidies can be used without any difficulty.’

Are there any impediments to green hydrogen?

‘Today, the production is about twice as expensive as the production of grey or blue hydrogen (both made from natural gas, but with blue hydrogen CO2 is collected for storage under the sea bed).

There are no legal impediments to building a hydrogen pipeline, but for using hydrogen there are some blank spots in the regulations and some unanswered questions about subsidies and taxes. These really need to be addressed quickly by the authorities. If the pipeline is in place in 2024, if the largest hydrogen plant in Europe is in operation, and if companies can use it, CO2 emissions will be reduced by about 150 kilotonnes per year, half a percent of current emissions in the Rijnmond region.’

Photo’s by Jerry Lampen, copyright Jerry Lampen.