Rotterdam moves on plans to become key hydrogen hub

20 May 2022
Rotterdam moves on plans to become key hydrogen hub

Rotterdam Port is working with more than 10 countries from across the globe, from Iceland to Oman, on studies to explore establishing export chains and opportunities for strategic cooperation

Last week the Port of Rotterdam - Europe’s largest port - signed a statement with nearly 70 port-based operators and global business partners affirming their ability to supply Europe with at least 4.6 Mt of hydrogen annually by 2030. This would provide 40 per cent of the European Commission’s target of 10 Mt hydrogen production and import by 2030.

This came as an ‘offer’ to European Commission executive vice-president Frans Timmermans, now actively advocating for the new REPowerEU strategy, which would raise Europe’s hydrogen goal for production and import from 5.6Mt to 20Mt by mid-century.

Among the signatories were a wide array of ports and industrial groups with hydrogen ambitions, including Middle East leaders AD Ports Group, Aramco, and rising African energy leader Republic of Namibia.

Their commitment occurred during the World Hydrogen Summit & Exhibition organised by the UK-based Sustainable Energy Council, which put Rotterdam’s wide-ranging hydrogen ambitions on full display. The port’s comprehensive initiatives anticipate both supply and demand of hydrogen and hydrogen-based fuels.


Electrolysis plans

The Rotterdam Port Authority is overseeing a bold initiative to build large electrolysis units on the Maasvlakte – reclaimed land near the mouth of the Maas River – to be powered directly by planned offshore wind facilities.

The dedicated area, approximately 25 hectares, is planned for an initial 2GW conversion park, consisting of electrolysis units of 200-300MW each. Shell, bp, and Air Liquide are among the groups now proposing to build the electrolysis factories.

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 that operates some 40 kilometers further east in the port. Thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers will develop the plant with its large-scale 20 MW alkaline water electrolysis units.

Wind energy for the green hydrogen will come with guarantees of origin from with 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 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’s refinery and other port industries. Now in conceptual phase, the project anticipates FID by end of next year.

Continued expansion of the Maasvlakte site should gain momentum from EU mandates, which will require the port’s five refineries to achieve net-0 carbon emissions by 2035. The Port Authority anticipates the 25-hectare Maasvlakte site to eventually expand to 20GW capacity, making it by far the largest electrolysis production site in Europe. A ramp up for tendering is anticipated after 2026.


Transporting hydrogen

The Port Authority plans for hydrogen – green and blue – locally produced and imported – to move through an open access underground pipeline. It 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 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-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, one 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. The €500m project is led by the three-member public consortium including the Port Authority, Gasunie, and the Dutch natural gas utility EBN. FID is expected this year.  

Import intention

Europe’s requirement of 10 Mt of hydrogen by 2030 and 20 Mt of hydrogen per year by 2050 will far exceed its capacity to produce such quantities. This will open enormous opportunities for producers worldwide including MENA and African producers.

The Port Authority has been engaged in exploratory studies with more than ten countries, including Iceland, Portugal, Morocco, Oman, South Africa, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Australia and Canada. The studies have focused on how to establish export chains and opportunities for strategic cooperation.

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