Photo: Borssele 1 & 2 offshore wind farm in the Netherlands; Photo: Ørsted

RVO drafts massive 2040 offshore wind-to-hydrogen scenario for the Netherlands

As the Netherlands paces towards fulfilling its ambition of becoming climate-neutral by 2050, its energy system is undergoing substantial change with an increasing share of renewable energy. Surplus electricity produced by offshore wind and other renewables can be used to meet the growing demand for green hydrogen, even in case of a low hydrogen import price, according to a report commissioned by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland; RVO).

Dedicated electrolysis in combination with offshore wind can also contribute to prevention of grid congestion, RVO said after releasing the Netherlands System Integration Offshore Wind 2030-2040 report in English this month.

The report was published after a study into the Dutch onshore grids and energy system in relation to offshore wind was carried out by Guidehouse and Berenschot in close collaboration with Gasunie and TenneT.

The study assumes 38.5 GW as the amount of installed offshore wind capacity in the Netherlands by 2040 in its National scenario, and 31 GW in International, European, and Regional scenarios – each of which foresees different installed offshore wind capacity in the country by 2050.

23 GW of green hydrogen capacity with Dutch Government at the domestic energy transition helm

In the National scenario, the Dutch Government takes the helm on energy transition and the assumed installed offshore wind capacity in 2050 is 72 GW, while Regional scenario revolves around local and regional government bodies being in charge, which would lead to 43 GW of offshore wind capacity by mid-century.

The European scenario, which puts Dutch offshore wind capacity at 42 GW in 2050, assumes “strong steering by Europe” and the International scenario is based on a fully open international market that would lead to 38 GW of offshore wind in the Netherlands by 2050.

Looking at 2040 and 38.5 GW of offshore wind with the energy transition path in the hands of the Dutch Government, the country could have as much as 23 GW of green hydrogen capacity, up from only 3 GW to 4 GW in 2030 under the Climate Agreement, according to the study.

The optimised electrolysis capacity for the International and European scenarios with 31 GW of offshore wind energy is around 8 GW, whereas the optimum capacity for the Regional scenario is 20 GW, the report states.

Adding green hydrogen to the mix by 2040 would not only bring this increasingly popular energy source in large amounts earlier than planned, but would also allow for boosting the offshore wind targets further while helping avoid grid congestion.

As reported in November last year, the Netherlands has decided to double its offshore wind target for 2030 and is now working on enabling further 10 GW to be added to its system by that time.

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The energy from 31 GW of offshore wind can be integrated into the high-voltage grid planned for 2035 without major problems, while a number of bottlenecks could emerge if electricity from 38.5 GW of offshore wind is to be integrated, RVO’s report reads. For the latter to be avoided, a potential expansion of the high-voltage network up to 2040 appears to be possible and is, to a certain extent, already provided for in TenneT’s 2022 Investment Plan, according to the report.

“Nevertheless, large-scale conversion of surpluses to hydrogen is anticipated in every scenario, as there is not always sufficient final demand for electricity, but there is sufficient demand for green hydrogen”, the report states.

At this time, there are several offshore wind-to-hydrogen projects in the Netherlands, including its first offshore green hydrogen project, PosHYdon, on which the work started last year after RVO granted it a subsidy of €3.6 million.

Earlier this month, Neptune Energy and German offshore wind developer RWE announced an offshore wind-to-hydrogen demonstration project in the Dutch sector of the North Sea.

Named H2opZee, the project aims to build 300-500 MW electrolyser capacity in the North Sea to produce green hydrogen using offshore wind and to transport it to land through an existing pipeline, which has a capacity of 10-12 GW, so it is already suitable for further roll-out of green hydrogen production at gigawatt scale, according to the consortium.

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