All European countries need to grow at the same time through hydrogen value chain

During the Offshore Energy Exhibition & Conference 2023 (OEEC), Alice Krekt, the Director of NLHydrogen talked about hydrogen, emphasizing that all the countries in Europe need to grow at the same time through the hydrogen value chain, “at least for mobility, for the level playing field, for the industry”.

Photo by: Navingo BV

Hydrogen is considered the great hope of decarbonization in many sectors including industrial manufacturing, aviation and shipping. However, massive investments in the expansion of renewable energy are needed to enable carbon-neutral hydrogen production.

In the quest for sustainable and climate-friendly hydrogen production, the industry needs to work together with the governments to achieve the net-zero goals. Alice Krekt and Leonie Beekman, Senior Business Development Manager Netherlands, RWE Offshore Wind Netherlands B.V., discussed the production of hydrogen, the connection with the offshore wind market and how can the Netherlands, as well as other European countries, boost and support hydrogen value chain.

“We need all the elements in the value chain, for instance, the renewable hydrogen made from wind farms, and also a backbone and also the usage,” Krekt stated.

“We as RWE currently have a few initiatives on offshore hydrogen. For instance, we have the project H2opZee together with Neptune Energy here in the Netherlands. That’s a 50-50 consortium project in which we have the ambition to demonstrate a large-scale offshore hydrogen installation here in the Netherlands and Germany. We’re also having an active role … in Germany, we have the Aqua Sector project,” Beekman said.

“And we are definitely very interested in offshore hydrogen, and I believe it enables a large build-out of offshore wind that we want to have in the Netherlands, but also globally. And it’s something we really have to invest in today to make that commercial scale possible in 2030 and beyond.”

During the discussion on The Stage, it was noted that the Netherlands wants to be big in the European hydrogen market and that the country is well positioned for that. However, the industry is currently facing a lot of insecurities. Working on the infrastructure and costs are some of them.

“We are dealing with a lot of insecurities. I think we need more certainty to be able to invest, and we have to invest today to take those steps to demonstrate towards large-scale offshore hydrogen,” Beekman added.

She also revealed that there is a need for both onshore and offshore testing and “a clear roadmap of which offshore sites will become available for hybrid bid or offshore hydrogen production.”

“It’s a clear build-out of infrastructure, and I can name a few more, but I guess indeed we need those clarity now to invest today,” Beekman further stated.

According to the recent findings by the International Energy Agency (IEA), while interest in new low-emissions hydrogen is on the rise, the slow roll-out of financial incentives and cost pressures put investment plans for future projects at risk.

The number of announced projects for low-emission hydrogen production could reach 38 Mt annually in 2030 if all announced projects are realized, although 17 Mt come from projects at early stages of development.

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Even though the number of announced projects continues to expand rapidly and more than 40 countries worldwide have set out national strategies, installed capacity and volumes remain low as developers wait for government support before making investments.

This was also emphasized by Beekman, who said that the companies are willing to take the risk and invest in the offshore hydrogen market, however, “we need a clear regulatory framework to do that. We need certainty. We need infrastructure“.

“I would say the regulatory framework is the most important because the government needs to organize things so that the companies know, okay, these are the rules here. We can act upon,” Krekt said.

“I guess Netherlands and Germany are front-runners here, and I believe that is because of the ambitions of the large build of offshore wind, and also because we are here with this big offshore energy sector that we can enable to build out this and to have strategic advantage as the Netherlands new economies.”

“We believe in the long run, it (hydrogen) has a role to play in order to enable the large build out of offshore wind. It has a system function to absorb all that offshore wind energy, especially in the Netherlands, to alleviate the grid,” Beekman concluded.

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