How does hydrogen work and what is the vision?

Hydrogen gas (H2) is released when splitting water or decomposing hydrocarbons such as methane. Hydrogen itself is therefore not a source of energy, but an energy carrier; you can extract energy from it. This can be done, for example, by electrolysis, where water is split into oxygen and hydrogen gas, using (green) electricity. In this video from Origin Energy you will find a good explanation of how hydrogen gas works.

Hydrogen can replace natural gas for heating existing buildings. A major advantage is that the existing natural gas network can be made suitable for the distribution of hydrogen with limited modifications.

Existing gas platforms can also be used to produce green hydrogen at sea. The elektricity to convert seawater into hydrogen would be generated by offshore wind farms.

The status of hydrogen in the Netherlands and the North Sea Canal Area

Several hydrogen initiatives have been launched in recent years, both onshore and offshore.

  • The first pilot project to produce green hydrogen on an existing gas platform has already started in 2018. The PosHYdon project on the Q13a platform is the world’s first offshore green hydrogen pilot project. It is a collaboration between Nexstep and TNO and close cooperation with industry, including a number of AYOP members. In May of 2024, an onshore test was done in Alkmaar for the PosHYdon project. You can find some good videos about this project on the PosHYdon website.
  • The Netherlands is working hard on a national hydrogen network. This network will connect industrial clusters with each other, with hydrogen storage and import locations, and with foreign countries. Hynetwork (100% subsidiary of Gasunie) has been appointed by the government to develop and manage the infrastructure. The starting point is to convert existing gas pipelines into hydrogen pipelines. Where reuse is not possible, new pipelines are installed. The network should be ready by 2030.
  • Pipelines are also being installed in the North Sea Canal Area (NSCA). According to Hynetwork’s current planning, this network will be operational from the end of 2027. In the future, the high-pressure hydrogen network in the NSCA may also be connected to a yet-to-be-developed local low-pressure hydrogen network in the ports of Amsterdam (H2avennet) and to Zaanstad (ZaannetH2). Both infrastructures are closely connected.
  • A lot is also happening around hydrogen in the port of Amsterdam. For example, several Amsterdam terminals are preparing for large-scale import of hydrogen via ships. Also, in the NSCA, plans for a 100MW and even 500MW electrolyser are becoming more and more concrete.
  • H2opZee is a demonstration project aimed at building 300-500 MW electrolyser far out in the North Sea, for the production of green hydrogen with offshore wind. This hydrogen will then be transported to land through an (existing) pipeline. The pipeline has a capacity of 10-12 GW and is therefore already suitable for the further rollout of green hydrogen production to gigawatt scale in the North Sea. This project is an initiative of TKI Offshore Energy, in collaboration with Neptune Energy and RWE.
  • Thanks to all the developments, North Holland has a Hydrogen Valley status since 2023. This is a European award for regions that make distinctive efforts to develop an energy system based on sustainable hydrogen.

AYOP’s role in the hydrogen transition

AYOP’s role in the field of hydrogen is primarily to share information and knowledge with our members. For example, we and several members are closely involved in GroenvermogenNL, the innovation engine of the green hydrogen economy. Within TKI Top Sector Energy, two TKIs are working on hydrogen; TKI Offshore Energy & TKI Nieuw Gas. We keep our members informed about opportunities and information about this.

In addition, we support our members in setting up initiatives and can provide the right connections for a consortium, for example. We also contribute to knowledge sharing within the North Sea Learning Community. Would you like to know more about this or are you curious about what initiatives exist within our network? Then please contact Richard Engelkes.

Sources en interesting links