Port of Rotterdam mulls switch to hydrogen
The Port of Rotterdam is thinking of using hydrogen instead of natural gas to cover its power and heat needs. If the project finds enough support, the first hydrogen producing plant should open in 2026. It will then reduce CO2 emissions by 4,3 million tons, 16% of the Port’s total output.
The Rotterdam district of Rozenburg already uses hydrogen made with renewable energy to heat houses. But because the energy needs of the Port of Rotterdam are much bigger than that of a residential area, the installations of the Port of Rotterdam project will initially produce hydrogen using natural gas and gas coming from the petrol refining industry.
The project reduces CO2 emissions by capturing at source and storing it. The Port of Rotterdam is, together with Belgian Ports, already investing in storage. Once enough renewable energy is available, it will be used to produce carbon-neutral hydrogen.
Sixteen companies and organizations are part of the project, called H-Vision. Among others, BM, Shell, Vopak, Linde, Uniper, Engie, and Air Liquide are involved. Lead by Deltalinqs, H-Vision made a feasibility study and united under the project name H-Vision.
Building the hydrogen production installations, including infrastructure and technical adaptations, will require an investment of 2 billion euros. Participating companies will convert their facilities now running on natural gas to produce electricity or heat to run on hydrogen. Once converted, they will only emit water.
Blue hydrogen intermediate step
The ultimate goal is to produce ‘green’ or carbon-neutral hydrogen. The feasibility study estimates a hydrogen production capacity of 700 kilotons or 3200 MW. This represents 20% of the Port’s total needs. At the moment, the entire Dutch hydrogen production is 800 kilotons, but the country is investing in an increased capacity.
But the supply of renewable energy is still limited. Therefore, the installations will start by producing so-called ‘blue’ hydrogen, made with non-renewable energy. Centralized CO2 emissions, however, are easier to capture at the source. Storing it in former underground gas bulges will prevent it from entering the atmosphere. The Port of Rotterdam will only be able to run on ‘green’ hydrogen in the long run.
“Hydrogen is essential for carbon-neutral energy supply,” says Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam. He calls it a good idea for the climate and the competitive position of the industry in the Port.
H-Vision is now going to talk to the government to get financial support. Without it, an economically viable yield is impossible, according to the initiators of the project. If the government grants financial support, the project is likely to go ahead.
H-Vision should decide in 2021 on whether or not to go ahead to be able to complete the installations by 2026. A suitable location to build two hydrogen production plants is the ‘Maasvlakte’, a massive human-made westward extension of the Europoort part of the Port of Rotterdam.