Dutch Cabinet declares new offshore wind, hydrogen developments as projects of national importance

The Dutch Cabinet has taken the lead on five energy infrastructure projects, making them projects of national importance. The five developments mainly revolve around grid connections for offshore wind farms and further development of the hydrogen infrastructure. 

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On 2 December, Micky Adriaansens, Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, and Rob Jetten, Minister for Climate and Energy, sent a letter to parliament on the progress of the Multi-year Infrastructure Energy and Climate Programme (MIEK), with a notice that five new projects are being added to the MIEK.

Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate

The Dutch multi-year energy infrastructure plan, which includes projects that are important for the future energy infrastructure, now has a total of 14 projects marked as being of national importance.

The five developments added now include offshore wind connections to the grid on land, hydrogen import terminals in the Rotterdam-Moerdijk and the North Sea Canal areas, the H-vision project in Rotterdam for the production of blue hydrogen, and the Aramis project that will build the infrastructure necessary for the transport of CO2 to storage locations under the North Sea.

The central government, in collaboration with all parties, is in charge by addressing and removing bottlenecks, sharing knowledge, and supporting timely decisions about ownership, financing and spatial integration, among other things. 

The approach for advancing the MIEK projects depends on the planned completion date and can be divided into two types, according to the letter: 1) projects with a (revised) completion date up to and including 2026, where the focus is on preventing delays and 2) projects with a planned completion date after 2026, where the focus is on additional acceleration towards realisation.

New offshore wind farms’ connections become key national projects

According to the document, the offshore grid projects now marked as of national importance are those for the offshore wind farms to be procured through the ongoing Hollandse Kust West and the upcoming first IJmuiden Ver tenders, and wind farms to be built in the new development areas that the government designated earlier this year.

The projects arising from the Coalition Agreement of 2021 require an amount of EUR 2 billion up to and including 2030 for careful spatial integration at sea and on land, and strengthening of the ecology in the North Sea and the Wadden Sea, according to the MIEK.

The wind farm sites at the Hollandse Kust West zone, one of which was awarded to RWE while the winner for the other site is yet to be selected, are scheduled to start producing power in 2024 (site VI) and 2026 (site VII, won by RWE), with both to be linked to 700 MW offshore converter platforms.

The wind turbines at the first two sites at IJmuiden Ver, which consists of four initial areas, are planned to start feeding power into the grid in 2028, with the second IJmuiden Ver pair expected to enter into operation the following year.

IJmuiden Ver wind farms will be connected to the new, 2 GW offshore grid technology developed by TenneT, as will almost all of the wind farms to be built at the new areas, with the exception of the Ten noorden van de Waddeneilanden project that will also be linked to a 700 MW offshore substation.

The offshore wind farms at the newly designated areas are planned to be put into operation from 2029 to 2031.

MIEK Overzicht 2022; Meerjarenprogramma Infrastructuur Energie en Klimaat; Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate

The new projects include the IJmuiden Ver Noord V and VI, each with a capacity of 1 GW, the 2 GW Nederwiek Zuid I, the 2 GW Nederwiek Noord II, the 2 GW Nederwiek Noord III, the 2 GW Doordewind I, the 2 GW Doordewind II, and the 700 MW Ten noorden van de Waddeneilanden.

The Hollandse Kust West tender to build offshore wind farms at that zone is still ongoing and the winner of the second site is expected to be revealed in the coming days.

Next year, developers will bid for IJmuiden Ver I and II sites, and in 2025 a tender will be launched for IJmuiden Ver III and IV. IJmuiden Ver Noord V and VI, and Nederwiek Zuid I are also scheduled to be auctioned off in the second quarter of 2025.

Nederwiek Noord II and III are to be auctioned off in 2026, Ten noorden van de Waddeneilanden in 2026 or 2027, and Doordewind I and II will be put up for auction in 2027.

With these new offshore wind farms, the Netherlands will reach its plan to achieve 21 GW of capacity installed by 2030.

While the government continues to work on the 2030 goal, it is also preparing for the major ‘upgrade’ to its ambitions as it now also plans to have 70 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2050, with a good portion of this also powering green hydrogen production.

Yes to blue hydrogen until green hydrogen is in full steam

The other four projects are focused on hydrogen and carbon capture and storage; however, just as the most of the MIEK projects, these too are interlinked with other infrastructure and coupled with other sectors.

The H-vision project focuses on the production of hydrogen from the residual gases from refineries, with the associated CO2 emissions being captured and stored. With the right infrastructure and partners, this project can potentially reduce 2.7 Mton of CO2 from the port areas in Rotterdam and Moerdijk, the MIEK reads.

According to Equinor, the partner in the first phase of H-vision, the project involves a large-scale production and utilisation of blue hydrogen that will allow local industry in Rotterdam to substantially reduce its CO2 emissions well before 2030.

The focus is on the production of hydrogen using natural gas and refinery fuel gas. The CO2 that is released during production will be captured and stored in depleted gas fields under the North Sea. The hydrogen obtained can then be used as a low-carbon energy carrier in industrial processes to generate high temperatures or to produce electricity.

As a result, H-vision enables Rotterdam-based petrochemical industry and power producers to reduce its emissions in a relative short time-frame whilst the project paves the way for the arrival of green hydrogen, which generates zero CO2 in its production, Equinor writes.

Aside from Equinor, the H-vision partners include: Deltalinqs, Air Liquide, bp, Gasunie, Port of Rotterdam, ONYX Power, Shell, Uniper, Royal Vopak, ExxonMobil, and EBN. 

The Aramis project offers infrastructure for the transport of CO2 supplied by industry to storage locations in the North Sea. With the development of this infrastructure, Aramis can start from 2027 with an annual storage of 5 Mton CO2 per year, with a further growth to 12 and eventually 22 Mton per year, which is a very large part of the CO2 reduction task of the Dutch industry, according to the MIEK.

As reported earlier, Aramis is one of two planned carbon capture projects in the Netherlands, with the second being Porthos – Port of Rotterdam CO2 Transport Hub and Offshore Storage.

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The project, announced in July 2021 as a joint project of TotalEnergies, Shell Netherlands, EBN, and Gasunie, involves developing new CO2 transport infrastructure to enable offshore CO2 storage and is based on an ‘open access’ philosophy to give industrial customers and offshore storage providers the possibility to connect to the infrastructure at a later stage.

Partners behind Aramis plan to take a final investment decision by 2023 with an operational start-up in 2026, and aim at a synergistic relationship with the Porthos project.

For the project on import and transit of hydrogen in Rotterdam-Moerdijk, the MIEK states that, in order to secure sufficient hydrogen supply in the future, the large-scale import of hydrogen is being intensively examined. That is why work is being done on terminals for the import and transit of hydrogen in the Rotterdam-Moerdijk region.

The first terminals are planned to be operational in 2024 and will initially be deployed locally in the Rotterdam-Moerdijk cluster, and will be further transported mainly by inland shipping. The aim is to subsequently connect the national hydrogen infrastructure and the Delta Corridor.

The purpose of the North Sea Canal area hydrogen terminal is the same: ensuring that sufficient hydrogen can be supplied in the North Sea Canal area in the future.

A consortium of organisations is working on the realisation of an import terminal for hydrogen in this area, including terminal operators, technology providers and hydrogen customers – bringing the entire supply chain together.

In line with the estimated need for hydrogen, this terminal must be operational by 2030, at the latest, according to the Dutch Multi-year Infrastructure Energy and Climate Programme (MIEK).