Reporting By: Alan Mammoser for Oilprice.com
Date Published: 24 May 2022
Europe’s largest port is poised to become a key hub of a new “hydrogen economy” with numerous projects now underway along its 42-kilometer length. The Port Authority and many port-based companies are now preparing to build the infrastructure required for a complete system of local and international supply and demand converging on Rotterdam.
Their confidence became apparent earlier this month, when the city, the Port Authority, and South Holland Province signed a joint statement with nearly 70 port-based operators and business partners in (potentially) exporting countries.
They affirmed their ability to supply Europe with at least 4.6 Mt of hydrogen annually by 2030. It was their ‘offer’ to European Commission executive vice-president Frans Timmermans, now actively advocating for the new REPowerEU strategy. Europe suddenly raised its goal for green hydrogen production and import to 20 Mt/yr by 2030. The Rotterdam signers are saying they can provide more than 20% of the European Commission’s target.
Among the signers were a wide array of ports and industrial groups with hydrogen ambitions. Their commitment occurred during the World Hydrogen Summit & Exhibition organized by the UK-based Sustainable Energy Council, which put Rotterdam’s wide-ranging hydrogen ambitions on full display.
Rotterdam’s wide-ranging initiatives anticipate both supply and demand of hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels. They should find support from the Dutch government, which announced its intention last month to invest €338 million in green hydrogen production and distribution.
The Rotterdam Port Authority and major industry players are anticipating the rise of demand in Europe. Their bold initiative to build large electrolysis units on reclaimed land near the mouth of the Maas River – the Maasvlakte – is taking shape. New offshore wind turbines now under development will power them.
The Netherlands has approximately 2GW offshore wind capacity, which is an initial outlay of the country’s plan to fill large swathes of its North Sea waters with wind towers, creating 21GW of offshore wind power by 2030. About half of this is currently tendered.Related: Slew Of New Discoveries Brings UAE Closer To Production Goals
Wind energy for green hydrogen production on Maasvlakte will come with guarantees of origin from the 2GW Hollandse Kust Noord Wind Farm offshore site, now being developed by the CrossWind consortium of Shell and the Dutch renewable energy developer Eneco. The consortium intends to have the 69-turbine wind farm operational by the end of next year.
The site itself, approximately 25 hectares of filled-in land, is planned for an initial 1GW conversion park, consisting of four electrolysis units of 200-300MW each. Shell, bp, and Air Liquide are among the groups now proposing to build the electrolysis factories, to be operational by 2026. Part of the site is dedicated to electricity connection and waste heat re-use.
Shell is taking the lead with plans for its 200MW Hydrogen Holland I project, now subject to investment decision later this year. It will supply green hydrogen to Shell’s Energy and Chemicals Park which operates some 30 kilometers further east of the port. ThyssenKrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers will develop the plant with its large-scale 20MW alkaline water electrolysis units.
The conversion park’s next project in line is H2-Fifty, a bp joint venture with the Dutch consortium HyCC. This 250MW electrolysis facility will supply green hydrogen to BP RR – the largest oil refinery in Europe – and other port industries. Now in conceptual phase, the project anticipates FID by end of next year.
Continued development of electrolysis should gain momentum from EU mandates, which will require the port’s industries to achieve net-0 carbon emissions by 2035. The Port Authority anticipates to eventually expand to 20GW capacity, making it by far the largest electrolysis production site in Europe. New locations within the port will be made available, with a ramp up of tendering anticipated after 2026.
Rotterdam wants local production and import of both green and blue hydrogen. The port aims to import hydrogen in the form of ammonia and LOHC, and to transfer this to a portfolio of hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels. These will need to move easily within the port and far beyond.
An open access underground pipeline will serve the new electrolysis park while connecting to port-based industries and the ten independent import terminals located along the port’s 42-km length.
There are two hydrogen pipeline systems now in development. HyTransPort, the port’s dedicated hydrogen pipeline, is a joint venture of the Port of Rotterdam and the Dutch natural gas utility Gasunie. Construction is anticipated to start early next year.
HyTransPort will connect to an expansive pipeline system serving northwest Europe, linking the Port of Rotterdam to the rest of the Netherlands, Port of Antwerp, and the industrial Rhine-Ruhr region in Germany. Called the Delta Corridor, this 4-pipeline system will transport hydrogen, hydrogen-based fuels and other industrial gasses.
To be operational in 2026, the consortium behind the project includes the Port of Rotterdam, Shell, bp, thyssenkrupp, the Essen, Germany-based power developer RWE, and several other industrial groups.
The Delta Corridor will also work the other way, carrying captured CO2 from industries to depleted gas wells undersea. It will facilitate the Portos project, the most advanced of three large carbon capture and storage schemes being planned in The Netherlands (each named after one of the Three Musketeers!).
Portos will repurpose an offshore natural gas platform, to store approximately 2.5 Mt of CO2 per year, taking it to the depleted gas wells more than 2 km deep. It will carry away CO2 from port-based industries including Shell, ExxonMobil, Air Liquide, and Air Products, according to a contract signed last year, and eventually from industries in Germany.
The €500m project is being developed by a three-member public consortium including the Port Authority, Gasunie, and the Dutch natural gas utility EBN. FID is expected this year, with operations to begin in 2025.
Europe’s new requirement of 20 Mt/yr of hydrogen by 2030 will far exceed its capacity to produce such quantities. It will require imports, opening enormous opportunities for producers of blue and green hydrogen worldwide. The Port Authority and its partners are positioning for this.
The Rotterdam Port Authority is already studying some 100 supply opportunities around the globe, in the US, South America, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and everywhere. It has been in exploratory studies with more than ten countries, including Iceland, Portugal, Morocco, Oman, South Africa, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Australia and Canada, looking specifically at opportunities for strategic cooperation to establish export chains.
A key piece of infrastructure for imports is now in the design stage. The ACE terminal, to be built on the Maasvlakte, will serve as an import storage terminal for green and blue ammonia. It is subject of an initial agreement among Gasunie, Dutch terminal operator HES International, and the port-based storage firm Vopak. Gasunie will connect pipeline to the site, which may eventually include an ammonia cracker facility
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