In eight years mega-hydrogen plant above the Wadden Islands. ‘Groningen must be the first to benefit from energy from the sea’

The Groningen industry must be at the forefront when hydrogen production starts in eight years’ time in the largest hydrogen factory at sea, above the Wadden Islands.

That says the Groningen deputy for Economic Affairs IJzebrand Rijzebol. “When production starts, the Groningen companies are the first to act. We should not immediately send the hydrogen to the Ruhr area. It will soon be Groningen first.”

On Monday morning it was announced that the first large hydrogen factory at sea should be operational north of the Wadden Islands in 2031. It will be located next to a wind farm planned there. That park will soon be good for 500 megawatts of electrolysis capacity. The area was chosen because a wind farm was already planned here and an existing natural gas pipeline can possibly be used for transport to land. The location can also be easily connected to the hydrogen network on the mainland.

Good news from The Hague

Rijzebol (CDA) and his fellow deputy Melissa van Hoorn (GroenLinks, Energy Transition) received the good news on Monday morning from Minister Rob Jetten of Climate and Energy, who came to Groningen for this. According to them, it is a big windfall for the province, which sees many jobs disappear due to the shutting off of the gas tap.

“It is a boost for Groningen, even if it will all take a while. This really takes a lot of work. And it is very important for greening. Natural gas is finite, we all know that. The companies in Groningen are really waiting for hydrogen. Especially the companies at the Chemiepark in Delfzijl, there are real energy guzzlers. Unfortunately, the development comes too late for Aldel, which also used a lot of energy in aluminum production, but has since collapsed. But you never know”, says Rijzebol.

Much remains to be done

According to Van Hoorn, the development will take several years because a lot still needs to be done. For example, there will first be an investigation into whether existing gas pipelines are suitable for the transport of hydrogen. Routes also have to be worked out and there are long permit processes. There is also little experience with the construction of such a large hydrogen plant at sea. “And the construction of the wind farm and the construction of the factory also take time. You also talk about very large-scale hydrogen production,” says Van Hoorn.

The project above the Wadden is the first in which hydrogen production at sea is applied on a large scale. With the construction of the hydrogen plant, the government, the companies involved and network operators hope to gain experience with this new technology, which will play a major role in the energy system of the future. The size of the investment is unknown. Nor does the government pay for the hydrogen plant.

Groningen is a global leader with plans

“With this plan, we are at the forefront of the world. It is also a big step on top of the target of 4 gigawatt electrolysis in 2030 from the Climate Agreement,” said Jetten in Groningen on Monday morning. “We have already designated this area as a preferred location so that preparations can start quickly. In this way we give the sector clarity so that they can make investment plans.”

The intention is that in the future much more hydrogen will be produced in the vicinity of wind farms in the Dutch part of the North Sea. That saves a lot of money and provides more flexibility, say experts. The large-scale use of hydrogen will enable the Netherlands to become greenhouse gas neutral more quickly. Incidentally, the hydrogen produced is primarily intended for industry and heavy road transport, not for households.