Rotterdam: developing a large-scale hydrogen network in the port complex

The Rotterdam Port Authority is working with various partners towards the introduction of a large-scale hydrogen network across the port complex, making Rotterdam an international hub for hydrogen production, import, application and transport to other countries in Northwest Europe. The hub will also enable Rotterdam to maintain its position as important energy port for Northwest Europe in the future.

Construction of this 1,200 km long hydrogen network officially started on October 27, 2023 with a ceremony in the presence of King Willem-Alexander, Dutch minister for Energy Rob Jetten, Rotterdam’s mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb and several ambassadors form countries involved in hydrogen production, storage and transport. The first section of more than 30 kilometres runs from the conversion park on the Maasvlakte to Pernis. The first of four hydrogen plants is currently under construction on the conversion park. This 200MW hydrogen plant, the Holland Hydrogen 1, produces green hydrogen with electricity from wind farms at sea and is expected to transport the first green hydrogen to Pernis in 2025.

The large-scale storage capabilities provide the hydrogen network with additional flexibility in the supply of green energy. The network also promotes the development of the Netherlands as a European energy hub for hydrogen and the growth of the international hydrogen market. Furthermore, it contributes to European energy independence.

Hydrogen backbone developments

In the port area of Rotterdam, many partners are actively involved in constructing a new hydrogen network. A vital component of this is the development of a new hydrogen pipeline by HyNetwork Services and the Port of Rotterdam Authority, as the backbone of the future hydrogen infrastructure. The pipeline is being constructed between the areas of Maasvlakte and Pernis and will be an open access pipeline. This means that any company wishing to consume or supply hydrogen in the area can connect to the pipeline. It will also be linked to the national hydrogen grid that is being built by Gasunie, and will be connected with Chemelot in Limburg, the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and other European regions. This development is a collaboration between the Port of Rotterdam Authority and Gasunie and should result in an operational pipeline by the end of 2024 or early 2025.

International hydrogen corridors to Rotterdam

In addition to this new hydrogen pipeline, Rotterdam is also investing heavily in the creation of international hydrogen corridors to Rotterdam. Northwest Europe uses more energy than it can sustainably generate on its own, so energy imports will continue to be necessary in the future. To become carbon-neutral, hydrogen will need to be imported on a large scale. The port of Rotterdam strives to be the number one port for the import of sustainable energy and to play a key role in the import and transit of hydrogen. It is keen to co-operate with other ports and is exploring the possibilities of importing hydrogen from countries where it can be produced cost effectively.

One such project is the work being done together with Pecém Industrial Port Complex in Brazil. Brazil is very progressive when it comes to green energy. The country gets about 80% of its electricity from renewables and offers plenty of opportunities for the transition to a sustainable economy. It is one of the countries that are likely to become exporters of green hydrogen. In February 2021, Pecém announced its ambition to become a world player in green hydrogen. Over the last few years, several Memorandums of Understanding have been signed with international companies that are interested in participating in the Green Hydrogen Hub in Pécem, making it a very promising venture. In the port of Rotterdam, many collaborating partners are already involved. All types of hydrogen carriers can already be handled in Rotterdam, with only liquid hydrogen still under development due to the novelty of this technology. The terminal capacity for (green) hydrogen is expected to increase substantially over the next years.

Import terminal for green ammonia

In 2022, Gasunie, HES International (HES) and Vopak announced that they would be working together to develop an import terminal for green ammonia as a hydrogen carrier. The companies signed a cooperation agreement to that effect. The cooperation is a response to growing global demand for the import and storage of green energy. The terminal, that will operate on the Maasvlakte under the name ACE Terminal, is expected to be operational from 2026. This new import terminal for green ammonia will make a vital contribution to the hydrogen import, an essential link in the hydrogen chain, alongside hydrogen production, transport and storage. A reliable logistic chain is essential for developing the market for green hydrogen and for achieving the climate goals for 2030 and 2050.

Screen image of Port of Rotterdam's interactive map of hydrogen projects (c) Port of RotterdamIt is evident that Rotterdam is fast developing into an international hydrogen hub, with numerous exciting and highly promising new projects in its port area. This article merely highlights some of these projects. If you would like to know more about ongoing hydrogen projects in the port of Rotterdam, check out this interactive map on the Port of Rotterdam website.


(c) Header photo: Gasunie

Header photo: Danny Cornelissen

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