Plans for one of the world’s largest hydrogen production plants that will be linked to industrial demand in the Netherlands and Belgium have been unveiled today (31st March) by Ørsted.
The ‘SeaH2Land’ vision will see a hydrogen infrastructure developed with the potential to stretch 45km across the North Sea port from Vlissingen-Oost, the Netherlands to Gent, Belgium.
The hydrogen production facility will be built as part of the plans and it’s expected to be capable of 1GW by 2030.
The plant will feature an electrolyser able to convert 20% of the current hydrogen consumption in the region into renewable hydrogen.
The GW electrolyser will also connect to the regions 2GW offshore wind farm in the Dutch North Sea.
In doing so, a large-scale supply of renewable electricity will become available for the production of renewable hydrogen allowing the Dutch authorities to accelerate offshore wind roll-out in line with increasing electricity demand.
It is expected that the offshore wind farm could be built in one of the southern zones in the Dutch exclusive economic zone – an area that has already been designated for offshore wind development.
In turn, this would enable GW-sized electrolysis and offshore wind landing zones on both sides of the river.
Major industrial players in the Dutch-Flemish North Sea Port cluster – already one of the largest productions and demand centres of fossil hydrogen, in creating a renewable, greener source of zero-emission hydrogen – including ArcelorMittal, Yara, Dow Benelux and Zeeland Refinery have backed the plans.
Yara, in consortium with Ørsted and Zeeland Refinery announced plans for renewable hydrogen production at their sites, while Dow has been exporting hydrogen to Yara since 2018 through the world’s first conversion of a gas pipeline into hydrogen.
The network has the potential to be extended further south to ArcelorMittal and further north, underneath the river Scheldt, to Zeeland Refinery.
This would be a crucial link to create a unique regional ecosystem of hydrogen exchange with significant carbon reduction in the manufacturing processes of ammonia, chemicals, and steel.
Manfred Van Vlierberghe, CEO of ArcelorMittal Belgium, said, “We aim to increase the use of green hydrogen, and for this our collaboration with Ørsted is an important step. Together with our partners in the Smart Delta Region, we will develop an ecosystem with a great complementarity of companies and knowledge centres.”
Green hydrogen hub
Crucially, the cluster has the potential to be turned into a green hydrogen hub with the strategy proposing to extend the 380kV high-voltage network for industry south of the river Scheldt.
With 580,000 tonnes of fossil hydrogen created in the region, a new facility that can convert fossil hydrogen into green hydrogen will help decarbonise industries with the cluster having the potential to grow to an estimated 1 million tonnes by 2050 – equivalent to 10GW of electrolysis.
Martin Neubert, Chief Commercial Officer and Deputy Group CEO of Ørsted, said, “The Dutch-Flemish North Sea Port covers one of the largest hydrogen clusters in Europe. As the world looks to decarbonise, it’s paramount that we act now to secure the long-term competitiveness of European industry in a green economy.”
“The SeaH2Land project outlines a clear vision and roadmap for large-scale renewable hydrogen linked to new offshore wind capacity.”
Neubert continued, “With the right framework in place, the Netherlands and Belgium can leverage the nearly unlimited power of offshore wind to significantly advance renewable hydrogen as a true European industrial success story.”
Subject to regulatory framework, the SeaH2Land project’s second phase will attempt to scale electrolyser capacity to 1GW to connect to a national hydrogen backbone, providing additional flexibility and storage.
The partnership will now move forward and engage in dialogue with the regulatory authorities on the framework and policies needed to support the development of renewable hydrogen linked to large-scale offshore wind, the regional infrastructure, and conduct a full feasibility study of the project.