Project for implementing Scotland-Rotterdam hydrogen export route moves forward

The consortium behind the LOHC for Hydrogen Transport from Scotland (LHyTS) project, which aims to establish a hydrogen export route from Scotland to Rotterdam via liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC), has conducted engineering studies targeted at developing a pilot project as a precursor to large-scale export. 

Illustration; Pixabay

The LHyTS project was launched at the end of 2022 by a consortium of international partners including Axens, Chiyoda, EnQuest, ERM, Koole Terminals, Port of Rotterdam, Scottish Government, Shetland Islands Council, Storegga and the Net Zero Technology Centre (NZTC).

The project seeks to demonstrate that LOHC, in the form of methylcyclohexane (MCH), can be successfully transported at scale, providing an export route to the Port of Rotterdam and other European destinations.

As part of the first phase of the LHyTS project, a study of options for transporting hydrogen at scale was performed. It concluded that LOHCs provide a viable means of transporting hydrogen in large quantities and have several advantages over other carrier forms such as ammonia, methanol, or liquid hydrogen.

Subsequently, it was recommended that the project progresses to the second phase to carry out a detailed feasibility study and develop a clear and robust plan for a full industrial-scale trial.

A detailed report on the feasibility study has now been published, explaining that the trial would involve the shipment of a large volume of LOHC by sea between two ports, with the export ports being St. Fergus via Peterhead and/or Sullom Voe Terminal in Scotland, and the import port being Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

The proposed trial will involve the production, storage and loading of hydrogenated (‘live’) LOHC at the export terminal. The LOHC would be loaded at a product jetty into a coastal tanker and transported by sea to the import terminal. The LOHC would then be unloaded at a jetty and transferred into storage tanks. When required, the LOHC would be supplied to an end-user via pipeline and to a process unit which would release the hydrogen from the LOHC on demand. The offtake of hydrogen gas will then be used by the end-user, most likely for industrial or transport applications.

According to the report, this phase confirmed that there are no technical barriers to implementing MCH as a hydrogen vector to export hydrogen from Scotland to Rotterdam, suggesting that further optimizations can be achieved in the third phase to enable a trial project looking towards 2030.

The examination of port facilities at SVT and St Fergus/Peterhead confirmed the feasibility of exporting hydrogen from Scotland to the Netherlands using LOHC at these ports. By considering both small- and large-scale export scenarios, the study provided an overview of the required infrastructure and hydrogen production capacities to deliver a technical and economically acceptable solution.

As for the next step in the LHyTS project, the third planning stage will include discussions and actions related to the identification of potential hydrogen off-takers. This will play a key role in progressing the project to next stages.