Plans for Europe's largest green hydrogen project in Groningen

Powering 12.5 million Dutch households by 2040. Groningen Seaports, Shell Netherlands and Gasunie announced plans last week to make the Eemshaven in Groningen the center of green hydrogen production in Northwest Europe, and the biggest project in the world. 

Because there are fluctuations in solar and wind energy, it’s important to convert them into other energy carriers, such as hydrogen. Using the latest technologies, hydrogen is relatively easy and safe to produce, and can be stored easily, unlike electricity. Green hydrogen, produced with renewable sources such as wind and solar energy, is central to the Dutch Climate Accord and the European ‘Green Deal’. The industrial sector is already using large quantities of hydrogen, but this mainly produced from natural gas. Replacement with green hydrogen contributes significantly to the decarbonisation of the industry.

 

Big ambitions

The consortium of Gasunie, Groningen Seaports and Shell Nederland announced they intend to launch the NortH2 project: the production of green hydrogen using renewable electricity generated by a mega offshore wind farm, 3 to 4 gigawatts in 2030, and 10 gigawatts by 2040. Green hydrogen production, initially in the Eemshaven and later possibly also offshore, is expected to be around 800,000 tonnes per year by 2040. This would reduce about seven megatonnes of carbon emissions per year. NortH2 has the support of the province of Groningen and is looking for partners to expand the consortium and realise this project.

This would be sufficient to meet the current electricity consumption of some 12.5 million Dutch households. Many wind turbines will need to be installed to enable this. The first ones could be ready in 2027 and will be used for green hydrogen production. In addition, the plan provides for a large electrolyser in the Eemshaven, where wind energy is converted into green hydrogen. The consortium is also considering the possibility of placing electrolysers offshore.

Finally, a smart transport network in the Netherlands and Northwest Europe is required to deliver the 800,000 tonnes of green hydrogen to mainly industry, and later possibly also to consumers. This could save an estimated seven megatonnes of CO2 emissions per year around 2040. In this project, Gasunie’s natural gas infrastructure – which is now mainly used for natural gas and green gas – is also used for the storage and transport of hydrogen.

Marjan van Loon, President-Director of Shell Nederland: “Together, we are launching an ambition that puts the Netherlands at the forefront of hydrogen globally. In order to realise this project, we will need several new partners. Together we will have to pioneer and innovate to bring together all the available knowledge and skills that are required. The energy transition calls for guts, boldness, and action.”

 

Ideal location

The north of the Netherlands is well-positioned to become the centre of green hydrogen in the Netherlands and Northwest Europe. The North Sea has a great potential for large-scale wind energy, the Eemshaven is an important link between offshore wind energy and the production of green hydrogen onshore. Natural gas infrastructure is suitable for storage and large-scale transport of hydrogen from the northern Netherlands to the rest of the Netherlands and Northwest Europe.

Cas König, CEO of Groningen Seaports, adds: “We are already actively building the green industry of the future in the north of the Netherlands. An important part of industry in Delfzijl is already using hydrogen and the construction of Europe’s largest green hydrogen facility in our port city is imminent. Because of this, industry can decarbonise significantly and has the ability to continue growth, as a result of which our position is strengthened even further. Green industry in the North also makes a concrete contribution to the climate targets of the Netherlands for 2030. Our target is to become Europe’s largest green hydrogen chain with the northern Netherlands at the centre.”

 

Next steps

This announcement is the start of the further development of the multi-partner project to form a broad coalition necessary for making a success of this large-scale project. It is also the beginning of the feasibility study as well as discussions with the relevant European, national, regional and local authorities on the regulatory and policy frameworks, enabling stable and positive investment decisions.