Hydrogen: the potential of North Sea Port

North Sea Port has plenty of assets to help it become Europe’s no. 1 hydrogen hub. The production of hydrogen in the port area will become increasingly green, thanks to the solar and wind energy generated in the port area and on the North Sea. North Sea Port can also handle large-scale demand through the combination of local production and imports. Thanks to an excellent network of pipelines and a strong connection to the hinterland, hydrogen can easily reach the North Sea Port area.

Sustainable, local hydrogen production

To produce sustainable hydrogen, large amounts of green electricity are needed. Projects are already in the works to make that happen, and there is still room available for other companies.

The North Sea Port area currently generates 500 MW of solar and wind power, and 1.5 GW of power from offshore wind farms is landed there. Thanks to the national high-voltage grid (380 kV) in Borssele and Ghent (Rodenhuize), future hydrogen plants will be able to purchase large quantities of electricity.

Further investment is crucial to generate large amounts of green energy. Additional wind farms will be needed to land electricity at North Sea Port. The Dutch government plans to land at least an additional 4 GW at Borssele by 2030. In Belgium, 2.3 GW of wind power is landed in Zeebrugge. Network operators TenneT and Elia will need to provide additional capacity and infrastructure.

Importing hydrogen

The production of this renewable hydrogen will not be sufficient for future large-scale demand in North Sea Port and the hinterland. Imports will be necessary, and North Sea Port is a suitable port for that too. The potential for hydrogen imports through North Sea Port is estimated at 6 Mtons per year by 2050.

Hydrogen will be imported in several ways. One of them could be in the form of ammonia. Unlike hydrogen, ammonia can be stored in tanks as a liquid. It can be used as an energy source and as a feedstock for the production of hydrogen. The port already has storage tanks that can be used for importing ammonia. Concrete projects are also under development in North Sea Port to import sustainable hydrogen via this method starting in 2025.

Unique cross-border pipeline network

In order to transport hydrogen within, from and to the port area, a cross-border network of pipelines is being constructed. Where possible, existing pipelines are being modified; where necessary, new pipelines will be constructed. The Dutch company Gasunie and the Belgian company Fluxys are working together to this end. This infrastructure should be ready for users by 2026, with support from industry and governments.

Strong hinterland connections

Thanks to its central location, North Sea Port will grow into a hydrogen hub. North Sea Port is located on major hydrogen transport corridors in both Belgium (Zeebrugge-Antwerp) and the Netherlands (Rotterdam-Chemelot). The construction of the cross-border network will also bring the European interior within reach.

Together with the hinterland connections by rail, inland shipping and road, this will enable North Sea Port to grow into a hydrogen hub on a European scale, in which employment and added value are firmly embedded and there is room for new activity and investment.

North Sea Port, your hydrogen partner

North Sea Port is the ideal partner for companies that want to use and/or produce hydrogen. It offers a supply of hydrogen, infrastructure to transport it and plenty of available land to provide a secure base for new businesses.

North Sea Port is already the largest hydrogen player in the Benelux: the companies in the port area produce and consume 580 ktons of hydrogen annually. With the additional investments planned, the port will grow into a major European player in the field of hydrogen. To this end, the port authority has developed a hydrogen strategy to facilitate the energy transition from fossil fuels to more sustainable hydrogen.

"The availability of sustainable hydrogen and the related infrastructure will attract new, innovative industry. This will serve to further embed economic added value and employment in the port area while reducing the negative impact on the environment ever further." – Daan Schalck, CEO of North Sea Port

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Transition to sustainable hydrogen

North Sea Port is actively engaged in building a fully sustainable hydrogen network. The reason is simple: in the coming years, the demand for hydrogen, and particularly green hydrogen, from businesses will only increase.

The hydrogen currently produced and consumed in North Sea Port is so-called grey hydrogen. This hydrogen is produced from natural gas, a process that emits CO2. North Sea Port is aiming for climate neutrality by 2050. In order to achieve that, the production of hydrogen will need to become sustainable.

Carbon Capture and Storage

The transitional step from grey (CO2-emitting) hydrogen to green (climate-neutral) hydrogen is blue hydrogen. This is hydrogen obtained by the same production process as grey hydrogen, except that the CO2 produced is captured and stored. These processes are known as CCS: Carbon Capture and Storage. Empty gas fields in the North Sea could be used to store the hydrogen. TheCO2 would then transported there by ships. The first companies may start using this technology as early as 2025-2026.

Concrete projects are also under development in North Sea Port to transport CO2 to empty gas fields in the North Sea from 2027 onwards.

Hydrogen without CO2 emissions

In order to produce sustainable hydrogen, natural gas will be replaced in the production process by green electricity and water. By means of electrolysis, this produces so-called green hydrogen, free from CO2 emissions. By 2025, several green hydrogen production plants will be built, totalling more than 500 MW. After 2025, a rapid upscaling will take place to an installed capacity of approximately 2 GW by 2030.