Is there a future for green hydrogen activities in the Northern Netherlands? According to Business Studies alumnus Robert van Tuinen, manager of Business Development & Strategy at Seaports in Eemshaven, this is a no-brainer.
‘It’s actually quite simple: green hydrogen is helping us to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement faster than we thought and is creating new sustainable employment opportunities in the Northern Netherlands.’ Robert van Tuinen is in the process of helping industry in the Northern Netherlands to go green by stimulating the production of hydrogen. ‘Green hydrogen is becoming an accepted concept in the energy transition,’ he says. ‘People used to consider hydrogen to be too expensive. Support is gradually shifting. We want to bring about a new zero-emissions system. The hydrogen chain is an essential part of this as far as we are concerned. A very interesting meeting held at the UG earlier this year was attended by people from the business sector, politicians and industry, discussing precisely this.’
Seaports Port Authority is working with Shell Nederland and the Gasunie, within a consortium known as NorthH2, to work out concrete plans for getting the production of green hydrogen off the ground in the Northern Netherlands. Van Tuinen: ‘The first step towards changing the system is to construct more large-scale offshore wind farms. The green energy they generate will be converted into hydrogen and transported to industrial areas throughout the Netherlands and in Germany. We can use some of the Gasunie’s existing pipelines for this. At Seaports, we’ve developed special plastic hydrogen pipes. They have been certified and we are already using them in our port.’
Van Tuinen is convinced that the Northern Netherlands has everything it needs to produce the volume of hydrogen required. ‘Our region is ten years ahead of the goals from the Paris climate agreement: we’ve already met our climate goals for 2030. In addition, the European Union has acknowledged us as being the Hydrogen Valley, a label that will speed up the process of getting European grants to help to fund the hydrogen chain. This chain is an interesting opportunity for new businesses. We even managed to entice SkyNRG to Delfzijl. This factory will produce biokerosene on the basis of hydrogen.’
But the consortium still has plenty of work to do first. They need to decide where the new wind farms can be built. In addition, the industry recently issued detailed recommendations to Minister Wiebes of Economic Affairs about the strategy for the energy infrastructure. Van Tuinen is hoping for a positive response after the summer, so that work can finally commence. ‘If you think that it took twelve years for the new power connection to get from the Eemshaven seaport to the high voltage substation in Vierverlaten, you’ll understand why we’re in a hurry.’
But to his mind, the most important effect of the intended hydrogen activities is the chance to attract new businesses and companies to the Eemshaven seaport and Delfzijl. ‘This will vastly improve employment opportunities in the North of the Netherlands by creating sustainable jobs for technically trained people who want to settle in the Northern Netherlands.’
This article has been taken from our alumni magazine Broerstraat 5. Text: Marjan Brouwers.
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