Hydrogen: The Bridge between Africa and Europe

Hydrogen will play a pivotal role in achieving an affordable, clean and sustainable economy. It allows for cost-efficient bulk transport and storage of renewable energy, and can decarbonize energy use in all sectors.

Green hydrogen is one of the top priorities in the energy transition, as it will help to decarbonize several industrial sectors such as steel, fertilizers, petrochemicals, mobility and heating. Furthermore, the development of a green hydrogen economy can also help to integrate more renewables in the energy system, and to contribute to green growth and job creation. In the MENA region, there are abundant natural resources, allowing a high combined capacity factor for solar PV and wind, which is crucial to achieve low prices for the production of green hydrogen. Equally, Europe is a potential off-taker with some of the largest industrial players in the steel and heavy transport industries, combined with an incumbent target for no zero emissions by 2050. In this context, the MENA region has the potential to become a highly scalable ‘Green Powerhouse’ for its own people and industry, as well as for exporting green energy to the world energy markets, as far as local conditions allow.

The ‘Green Hydrogen for a European Green Deal‘ is a market orientation policy paper, which was co-written by Prof. Ad van Wijk, Member of the Advisory Board of Dii Desert Energy, and Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Secretary General of Hydrogen Europe. The paper was presented in April to the Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, Mr. Frans Timmermans, in charge of the EU Green Deal, and Mrs. Simson, European Commissioner for Energy. The video conference included H.E. Aziz Rabbah, Minister of Energy, Mines and Environment of Morocco, Orstedt and 14 CEOs of companies such as EDF, Enel, NEL, tyssenkrupp, and SNAM among others.

Dii Desert Energy, in cooperation with Hydrogen Europe, the EU GCC Clean Energy Technology Network and others, has significantly contributed to the development of the 2×40 GW Initiative. The proposal found its way in the European Hydrogen Strategy, which was released on 8 July. A target of 40GW electrolyser capacity in Europe by 2030 is part of the strategy, as well as an immediate target of 6GW by 2024.

Several impactful studies were recently published by Dii Desert Energy, among which the ‘North Africa-Europe Hydrogen Manifesto’, co-written by Frank Wouters, Prof. Ad van Wijk and Dr. Badr Ikken, Director General of the Moroccan Research Institute for Solar Energy and News Energies (IRESEN) and the book: ‘Emission free energy from the deserts’, by Paul van Son and Thomas Isenburg (SmartBook Publisher/332 pages/Paperback. Click here).

The Desertec Industrial Initiative – Dii Desert Energy – was launched in 2009. Over the years, it has continued to evolve and develop in line with the spirit of its mission: “No Emissions – energy without harmful emissions”. Desertec 3.0 focus in the first place on renewable energy (both electrons and molecules) and, hence, emission reduction in MENA for the benefit of the local communities and industries.

Under the umbrella of Desertec 3.0, Dii Desert Energy launched among others the MENA Hydrogen Alliance to accelerate the development of value chains for green molecules in the region by bringing together private-public sector actors and academia. Dii Desert Energy acts as an impartial advisor to elaborate business cases and to educate different stakeholders on all aspects of producing, transporting, conversion to green hydrogen and other green molecules, storage and flexible demand. This comprises eventually exporting green molecules to world markets, including Europe. The mission is to connect MENA to Europe by fostering a regional partnership between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East to accelerate the deployment of green hydrogen projects and local value chains.

Read the full paper by Prof. Dr. Ad van Wijk and Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, an Initiative led by Hydrogen Europe, Dii Desert Energy, EUGCC Clean Energy Technology Network, , Ukrainian Hydrogen Council.


This article first appeared on EnergyNet

Here comes the electro-hydrogen era!

Hydrogen and electricity are energy carriers that can be made from fossil and renewable energy. Green hydrogen can be produced from water and green electricity through water electrolysis.

Worldwide, the potential for solar and wind energy is huge. Only 8% of the Sahara Desert area, if covered with solar panels, could produce all of the global energy demand. Electricity from solar and wind is cheap in places with high solar irradiation or wind speeds, at locations often far away from demand centres. To supply cheap solar and wind electricity at the right place and at all times, hydrogen is necessary because it is much cheaper to transport and store than electricity. A smart combination of green electricity and green hydrogen leads to a more reliable system with overall lower system cost compared to a system without hydrogen.Therefore, a sustainable energy system will have two very important symbiotic energy carriers; electricity and hydrogen. Electricity and hydrogen can be converted into each other using proven electro-chemical conversion technologies; electrolysers and fuel cells. After the steam era and combustion era, it is now time for the Electro-Hydrogen era!


Like electricity, hydrogen is an energy carrier that can be made from renewable energy sources, but also from fossil energy sources. But hydrogen, like electricity, is not an energy source!

Hydrogen from fossil hydrocarbons

Hydrocarbons or fossil fuels are compounds consisting of carbon and hydrogen. For example, methane (CH4) the main component of natural gas, is a compound of one carbon atom with 4 hydrogen atoms. The hydrogen atoms can be split from the carbon atoms using various techniques, including the widely used Steam Methane Reforming (SMR). Steam (H2O) reacts with methane (CH4) to form hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2), depicted in the following reactions:

CH4 + H2O (steam) 🡪 3H2 + CO

CO + H2O (steam) 🡪 H2 + CO2

As can be seen, carbon dioxide CO2 is formed here. If the CO2 is emitted into the air, contributing to the greenhouse effect, the resulting hydrogen is called grey hydrogen.

The CO2, which is generated in pure form, can also be captured and stored in an empty gas field or aquifer. This is called Carbon Capture and Storage or CCS. Up to 90% of the CO2 can be captured and stored in this way. Hydrogen produced through SMR in combination with CCS is called low-carbon hydrogen or blue hydrogen.

Hydrogen from bio hydrocarbons

Biogas or synthesis gas can be made from organic residues such as manure, waste wood or organic waste. Such syngas consists of various components: methane, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, but also to a greater or lesser extent hydrogen. Pure Hydrogen with pure carbon dioxide can be made from biogas/syngas. If the share of methane is high, this can be converted into hydrogen and carbon dioxide using  SMR as described above. Since the feedstock is green, this process yields green hydrogen and green carbon dioxide.

Both green hydrogen and green carbon (dioxide) are valuable because they can be used as feedstock to produce green chemicals or green fuels such as plastics or green synthetic kerosene. Because the process replaces fossil carbon with carbon captured from the atmosphere when the biomass grows, CO2 emissions are avoided. Better still, when this green carbon dioxide is captured and stored, the net greenhouse gas emissions are negative.

Hydrogen from water

Hydrogen can also be made from water (H2O) in a process called electrolysis, which is a chemical reaction in which a substance is decomposed into components under the influence of an electric current. In water electrolysis, the water molecule (H2O) is split into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2), depicted in the following reaction:

Electrolyser:  2H2O + 2e 🡪 2H2 + O2 

If the electricity is produced in a coal, oil or gas power plant, the hydrogen is not carbon free and is called grey hydrogen. But if the electricity is generated using green electricity from solar panels, wind turbines or hydroelectric power, the hydrogen is called green hydrogen.

It is the energy source that determines whether the hydrogen is green or not.


About 90% of the world’s energy consumption in 2016, amounting to 155,000 TWh (TWh=billion kWh), is fossil energy: oil, gas and coal. For comparison, the Netherlands uses about 1,000 TWh per year. This fossil energy is transported around the world by ship or pipeline, then converted into a useful energy carrier, electricity, gasoline/diesel or a gas. The conversion to a useful energy carrier is often associated with energy losses. For example, the efficiency of a modern gas-fired power plant is about 60%, which implies that 40% of the energy is lost as heat. These useful energy carriers are then distributed and used in houses, cars, factories, etc.

Energy is used in many parts of our modern life: For heating and cooling houses and buildings. For electricity production to power equipment, appliances and lighting. For transport by vehicles, ships or planes. And for industry, where processes require high temperature heat and steam. But fossil energy is also a feedstock, from which chemical products such as plastics or fertilizers can be made.

Hydrogen is not only an energy carrier but also a feedstock. Hydrogen is nowadays mainly made from natural gas or coal and primarily used as a feedstock to produce ammonia (the main component of fertilizers) or methanol, among other things. And hydrogen is used in refineries to desulfurize oil and in the production of gasoline and diesel.

A distribution of current global final energy consumption is given in the figure below, whereby hydrogen use is part of the feedstock use.


The question is whether all the fossil energy used worldwide can be replaced by green energy, and is it possible to generate it using solar panels and wind turbines. The answer is simply: no problem. The potential of solar and wind energy is very large.

If worldwide energy demand, amounting to 155,000 TWh, had to be produced with solar panels only, it would require a surface area covering about 10% of Australia or 8% of the Sahara Desert. The Sahara Desert is about 9.2 million square kilometres in size, which is more than twice the area covered by ​​the European Union.

The global wind energy potential is also very high. In a scenario where the entire worldwide energy demand would be produced with wind turbines, would only requires an area of ​​1.5% of the Pacific Ocean. It should be noted that that surface, however, is used to a limited extent, with one large floating wind turbine every kilometer.

So there is more than enough space to produce all the necessary energy for the whole world with solar and wind. This is even the case with an increasing global population and rising prosperity level.


Clean electricity is produced by solar panels and wind turbines. Electricity can be used to power all kinds of devices and for lighting, but also for heating, cooling and for mobility. So why would we convert electricity into hydrogen, with energy losses and extra costs?

Solar panels can produce electricity very cheaply in locations where solar irradiation is highest, for example in desert areas. The lowest prices for electricity from solar panels that have been offered in large tenders recently, April 2020, are around 1.25 and 1.5 Euro cents per kWh.

Wind turbines can also produce electricity very cheaply in windy places, mainly at sea and in certain areas such as Patagonia or Kazakhstan. But it can also be very windy in desert areas, also in the Sahara Desert, around the Red Sea or in areas in Algeria and Morocco. Electricity production cost with wind turbines on land are, mid 2020, around 2 Euro cents per kWh at good sites.

Today, in 2020, solar and wind electricity is even cheaper than electricity generated using fossil fuels, but mainly in areas far away from the demand. That leaves the question how this cheap green energy can be delivered to the energy user at the right place and time. This requires transport and storage of energy. Transport of electricity is possible via electricity cables, but that is roughly 10 times more expensive than transporting the same amount of energy as hydrogen by pipeline. Equally, storage of electricity in batteries or by pumping up water is more than 100 times as expensive than storing hydrogen in underground salt caverns.

For longer distances, beyond the feasible range of cables or pipelines, energy will have to be transported by train, truck or ship. The only feasible pathway is by converting electricity into hydrogen and convert it for transport. Like natural gas, hydrogen can be liquefied, which requires temperatures of -253 degrees Celsius, only 20 degrees above the absolute zero. Hydrogen can also be combined with nitrogen from air to produce ammonia, the main component of fertilizer, which is already liquid at -33 degrees Celsius, so cheaper and easier to transport than liquid hydrogen.

Now comes calculating, what is cheaper? Is it cheaper to generate electricity from solar or wind far away from demand and to bring it to the user via electricity cables and when necessary store this electricity in batteries? Or is a conversion to hydrogen and transport by pipeline and hydrogen storage in salt caverns and (if necessary) conversion back to electricity cheaper, despite the energy losses and extra conversion cost? Or is higher cost solar or wind electricity generation closer to the user, but with lower transport costs, a cheaper solution?

An example for a simplified comparison is given in the diagram below. It is a comparison between a solar cell system on the roof of a house in North-Western Europe and a solar cell system in a desert. Both systems must supply 100 kWh electricity to the house. The assumption is that desert electricity can be produced at a cost of 1 Eurocent per kWh. Because the yield at the roof of a house in North-Western Europe is a factor 2 to 3 lower and the costs of a small system are a factor 2.5 to 3 higher than for a large system in the desert, the solar panels on the house produce electricity at a cost of 5-9 Euro cents per kWh. So, 100 kWh electricity from the solar panels on the roof costs 5-9 Euro. 

The solar power from the desert, on the other hand, is converted via electrolysis into hydrogen, liquefied and transported in a ship, put in a pipeline and converted into electricity at home with a fuel cell. Electrolysis in the desert requires not only solar electricity but also water. By pipeline, sea water can be transported to these solar hydrogen production plants, reverse osmosis converts the sea water into demineralized water, the feedstock for hydrogen production. Even with distances over 1.000 km, these demineralized water cost, are only a couple percent of total hydrogen production cost. 

Despite all the extra costs and losses, 100 kWh of solar power from the desert costs about the same as that from the solar panels on the roof. The major advantage of the desert electricity, however, is the availability at any time, summer and winter and day and night.

It is also interesting to note that a factor of 2.5 more electricity must be produced in the desert given the conversion losses, but the number of solar panels placed on the roof or in the desert is approximately the same. After all, the same solar panel in the desert produces 2-3 times as much as on the roof in Europe.

This example shows that a sustainable energy system is about total system costs and not about system efficiency. And it clearly explains the merit of hydrogen in a sustainable energy system, namely for cheap transport and storage of low cost solar and wind electricity. With hydrogen, a clean, affordable and reliable sustainable energy system can be realized. And green hydrogen, along with green electricity, can easily replace all fossil fuels.


A global sustainable energy system can be constructed with mainly solar and wind as energy source, converted into electricity via solar panels and wind turbines. Where possible, useful and cost effective, the electricity produced is directly used. However, lowest cost solar and wind electricity can also be produced far away from the demand, requiring conversion to hydrogen for cheap transport and storage. The lower electricity production cost and cheaper transport and storage cost will compensate for extra energy conversion losses and costs.

Hydrogen as a feedstock to produce chemical products is a direct use of hydrogen. But the application of hydrogen for heating, mobility and power means that hydrogen needs to be converted again into electricity or heat. Today, the conversion is via combustion in a boiler, furnace, gas engine or turbine. However, in future the electrochemical conversion via fuel cells will become more important. The fuel cell reaction is the reverse of the electrolyser reaction: hydrogen and oxygen form water and the process produces electricity:

Fuel cell:    2H2 + O2 🡪 2H2O + 2e

Fuel cells that produce electricity and heat will be used in houses and buildings. The volume and temperature level of the heat can be brought to the desired level by using heat pumps. And the electricity from the fuel cells supplements the electricity from solar panels on the roof.

In future, electricity from batteries can directly power an electric engine for light cars, ships and airplanes, that travel short distances. For heavier vehicles, ships, trains and airplanes with longer ranges, an onboard fuel cell converts hydrogen into electricity, which drives the electric motor. Much more energy can be carried on board by hydrogen (gaseous, liquid or packaged as e.g. ammonia) than by electricity in batteries. 

In a transitional period, hydrogen can also be used for heating, mobility and electricity production, by combusting it in a boiler, motor or turbine. But eventually electrochemical conversion using electrolysers and fuel cells will dominate. Electricity and hydrogen will be the carbon-free symbiotic energy carriers, which can be electrochemically converted into each other by these electrolysers and fuel cells.

After the past steam era, the present combustion era, a sustainable energy era will emerge with new technologies.

Here comes the electro-hydrogen era!

This article first appeared on: https://nvvn.nl/here-comes-the-electro-hydrogen-era/

Figures from: Ad van Wijk, Els van der Roest, Jos Boere, ‘Solar Power to the People’ Allied Waters, November 2017, ISBN 978-1-61499-832-7 (online)

Europe bids to lead renewable hydrogen revolution

The European Union intends to do with hydrogen what it failed to do with solar and batteries: lead the world.

Clean hydrogen – which ultimately means green or renewable hydrogen made from solar- or wind-powered electrolysis – is one of the European Commission’s top priorities, Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said recently at the launch of the EU’s post-coronavirus recovery package. The Commission is due to unveil a European hydrogen strategy and a sector integration strategy focused on decarbonising industry on June 24. Ahead of this, the newsflow around hydrogen has exploded. Climate campaigners say hydrogen is indispensable to Europe’s ambition for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. At the same time, they are worried. “The risk is that the [hydrogen] hype triggers a reversal of priorities,” said Dries Acke, head of the energy program at the European Climate Foundation (ECF), a Brussels-based think tank. “Energy efficiency, renewables and direct electrification are the bulk solutions. Hydrogen is essential to get to net zero in certain sectors like industry but we are talking about the last 20% of emission reductions,” he said. National hydrogen strategies, the most recent of which has just been unveiled in Germany, target heavy industry and long-distance transport. But for many advocates hydrogen has a vital role to play across the energy system. “Even if all production and consumption was electric, more than half of that power would have to be converted to hydrogen for [cost-effective] transport and storage,” said Ad van Wijk, professor for future energy systems at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and a founding father of the hydrogen economy concept. “In a sustainable energy system, you calculate in terms of system costs, not efficiency,” he said. As such, it made more sense to generate renewable power in the Sahara and import it to the Netherlands in the form of hydrogen, even with the energy losses that conversion entailed, than to install solar and electrolysers in the Netherlands. There is a general consensus that most of Europe’s future hydrogen demand would be met by imports. This is recognized in the German strategy, which puts aside Eur2 billion in hydrogen subsidies to develop production partnerships with third countries. A study by German think tank Agora Energiewende in March highlighted the importance of cooperation within Europe. It warned the number of offshore wind turbines expected to be squeezed into the German section of the North Sea risked reducing full-load hours from 4,000-5,000 per year to 3,000/yr.

Hydrogen hedge

The business case for green hydrogen is tied up with that for renewables. It can improve the business case for offshore wind in particular by avoiding additional pressure on an already overloaded grid. Hydrogen can also provide renewables with a business case when the electricity system cannot. “Conversion to hydrogen is a kind of hedging for a renewables investor,” said Emmanouil Kakaras, head of new business at Mitsubishi Power Europe. For hydrogen advocates like Van Wijk and Kakaras, the biggest challenge to a clean hydrogen economy is getting the right regulations in place. “EU policy is trying to repeat the success story of renewables,” said Kakaras. “But there is a big difference: unlike solar and wind, green hydrogen production is driven by operational not capital expenditure. 80% of the cost depends on the electricity price.”

German tax boost

This is why the German government’s pledge to “look into” removing taxes and levies on power used for hydrogen production is as important as its ambition for 5 GW of domestic electrolysis capacity by 2030. “You need an electricity price which is expensive enough to make renewable power viable and low enough to make the hydrogen produced from it competitive with gas,” Kakaras said.

In practice, stakeholders are pushing for Contracts for Difference for green hydrogen. The German government has said it would pilot these for steel and chemicals. And this is where stakeholders diverge: hydrogen enthusiasts want policymakers to promote green hydrogen – and, to get things started, blue hydrogen made from natural gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS) – across the economy. Climate campaigners say hydrogen should be steered to where it has the greatest value, namely industry, long-distance transport and seasonal storage of electricity. They also want a clear definition of what “clean” hydrogen is before it is promoted.

“There is a risk of policy before definitions,” said Acke. “Hydrogen is not a technology, it is an energy carrier that can be produced clean or dirty.”

Blending debate

There is a split over blending hydrogen with natural gas. “Blending is essential to help ramp up clean hydrogen production and its transport and distribution, and begin the process of the gas switch,” said Eva Hennig, head of EU energy policy for Thuega, a network of local German utilities. If Europe adopted a 55% emission reduction target for 2030, Germany would need to decarbonise gas for heating, she said. Climate campaigners argue that heat pumps and district heating are more cost-effective for space heating. Others say that hydrogen is too valuable to mix with natural gas, both in climate and economic terms.

Eurogas study

On June 9 energy consultants DNV GL presented preliminary results from a year-long study commissioned by Eurogas into how to decarbonise the European gas sector. They modelled a scenario that hits the EU’s decarbonisation targets for 2030 and 2050, but with more gas and at lower total cost – mainly due to less grid build-out – than one of the European Commission’s main net-zero scenarios.

The Eurogas version has nearly equal shares of electricity (36%) and renewable or decarbonised gas (32%) in final energy demand in 2050, versus the Commission’s 51% versus 20%. Variable renewables make up half the electricity mix in 2038 rather than 2032. But the carbon price also reaches just €100 a tonne in 2050, rather than €350 a tonne.

CCS assumptions

A big difference between the two scenarios is in the power sector. The Eurogas scenario has a lot more negative emissions from power plants – essentially from CCS applied to biomethane or biomass – to offset emissions in other sectors, notably transport and buildings. The consultants have assumed that CCS becomes viable at Eur100-Eur110/metric tonne. Both scenarios rely heavily on the technology, above all in power plants which is where it has thus far failed to get off the ground.

Nor is everyone convinced it ever will. CEO of Enel Francesco Starace told a May 28 webinar that Enel would not re-invest in CCS: “For us, CCS is a dead-end.” He added: “The future of natural gas will be decided more by what renewables can do than what gas can do.”

In the long run, CCS becomes less important for hydrogen production than electrolysis. By 2050, one MWh of green hydrogen will cost a quarter that of hydrogen made from natural gas with CCS, estimates DNV GL. Cheap wind and solar power are “the game-changer”, says Van Wijk. The Eurogas study does not model powerfuels, or hydrogen-derived liquid fuels, because they were “too cost-prohibitive” when the work started, a DNV consultant said. The full study is due June 30.

Author: Sonja Van Renssen

Green Hydrogen for a European Green Deal – A 2×40 GW Initiative

Green Hydrogen for a European Green Deal – A 2×40 GW Initiative

Hydrogen will play a pivotal role in achieving an affordable, clean and prosperous economy. Hydrogen allows for cost- efficient bulk transport and storage of renewable energy and can decarbonise energy use in all sectors.

The European Union together with North Africa, Ukraine and other neighbouring countries have a unique opportunity to realise a green
hydrogen system. Europe including Ukraine has good renewable energy resources, while North Africa has outstanding and abundant resources. Europe can re-use its gas infrastructure with interconnections to North-Africa and other countries to transport and store hydrogen. And Europe has a globally leading industry for clean hydrogen production, especially in electrolyser manufacturing.
If the European Union, in close cooperation with its neighbouring countries, wants to build on these unique assets and create a world leading industry for renewable hydrogen production, the time to act is now. Dedicated and integrated multi GW green hydrogen production plants, will thereby unlock the vast renewable energy potential.

We, the European hydrogen industry, are committed to maintaining a strong and world-leading electrolyser industry and market and to producing renewable hydrogen at equal and eventually lower cost than low-carbon (blue) hydrogen. A prerequisite is that a 2×40 GW electrolyser market in the European Union and its neighbouring countries (e.g. North Africa and Ukraine) will develop as soon as possible.

A roadmap for 40 GW electrolyser capacity in the EU by 2030 shows a 6 GW captive market (hydrogen production at the demand location) and 34 GW hydrogen market (hydrogen production near the resource). A roadmap for 40 GW electrolyser capacity in North Africa and Ukraine by 2030 includes 7.5 GW hydrogen production for the domestic market and a 32.5 GW hydrogen production capacity for export.

If a 2×40 GW electrolyser market in 2030 is realised alongside the required additional renewable energy capacity, renewable hydrogen will become cost competitive with fossil (grey) hydrogen. GW-scale electrolysers at wind and solar hydrogen production sites will produce renewable hydrogen cost competitively with low-carbon hydrogen production (1.5-2.0 €/kg) in 2025 and with grey hydrogen (1.0-1.5 €/kg) in 2030.

By realizing 2×40 GW electrolyser capacity, producing green hydrogen, about 82 million ton CO2 emissions per year could be avoided in the EU. The total investments in electrolyser capacity will be 25-30 billion Euro, creating 140,000-170,000 jobs in manufacturing and maintenance of 2×40 GW electrolysers.

The industry needs the European Union and its member states to design, create and facilitate a hydrogen market, infrastructure and economy. Crucial is the design and realisation of new, unique and long-lasting mutual co-operation mechanisms on political, societal and economic levels between the EU and North Africa,Ukraine and other neighbouring countries.

The unique opportunity for the EU and its neighbouring countries to develop a green hydrogen economy will contribute to economic growth, the creation of jobs and a sustainable, affordable and fair energy system. Building on this position, Europe and its neighbours can become world market leaders for green hydrogen production technologies.

Download the full report here.

Podcast waterstof in 15 minuten

Waterstof speelt een prominente rol in het klimaatakkoord. Zo ziet het kabinet in de toekomst een belangrijke rol weggelegd voor waterstof in mobiliteit en de industrie. Vooral zwaar transport, bijvoorbeeld vrachtwagens, OV-bussen en dieseltreinen kunnen op waterstof gaan rijden. Ook speelt waterstof een rol als energiedrager voor duurzaam opgewekte energie. Maar wat is dat dan eigenlijk: waterstof? Ad van Wijk, professor Future Energy Systems bij de TU Delft en gastprofessor bij het KWR Water Research Instituut, legt het in 15 minuten uit.

De waterstofauto als cruciale schakel in een duurzaam energiesysteem

De conventionele auto die rijdt op fossiele brandstoffen is niet meer van deze tijd. Zeker niet met de doelstelling die de Nederlandse overheid zich heeft gesteld om in 2050 CO₂ neutraal te zijn. Waterstofauto’s en accu-aangedreven elektrische voertuigen zijn de toekomst volgens TBM onderzoeker Samira Farahani. Zij en andere onderzoekers aan de TU Delft werken aan het concept ‘Car as a powerplant’ (CaPP) van professor Ad van Wijk waarbij waterstofauto’s als stroombron fungeren in een duurzaam energiesysteem waar energie uit hernieuwbare energiebronnen zoals wind- en zonne-energie wordt omgezet in waterstof.


Een auto die rijdt op waterstof heeft een brandstofcel en een tank met waterstof nodig om de brandstofcel te voeden. De brandstofcel zet waterstof om in elektriciteit. Het voordeel van auto’s die rijden op waterstof of een hybride auto (mix van waterstof en accu) is dat ze veel verder kunnen rijden dan accu-aangedreven elektrische voertuigen. Farahani: “Personenauto’s op waterstof kunnen tegenwoordig tot 600 kilometer rijden, veel verder dan de gemiddelde 350 kilometer van accu-aangedreven elektrische auto’s”. Nog een voordeel van de waterstofauto is dat tanken ook snel gaat, in zo’n 8 tot 10 minuten. En nog mooier is dat een dergelijke auto kan fungeren als elektriciteitscentrale. “Een geparkeerde waterstofauto kan elektriciteit aan het stroomnet terug leveren en daarmee als buffer fungeren in een duurzaam energiesysteem voor fluctuerende duurzame energiebronnen als wind en zon. De auto wordt dan energieleverancier voor bijvoorbeeld een woonwijk of kantorencomplex”, legt Farahani uit.


Hoewel de omzetting van elektriciteit naar waterstof en vice versa niet efficiënt is, is het gebruik ervan toch aantrekkelijk omdat wind en zon onbeperkt beschikbaar zijn. Farahani: “Zo kan 10% van de zonne-energie opgewekt door Australië voorzien in de jaarlijkse wereldwijde energiebehoefte van 155.000 TWh. Bovendien kan er veel meer energie worden opgeslagen in moleculen (waterstof) dan in elektronen (elektriciteit) en waterstof kan efficiënt en goedkoop opgeslagen worden in bijvoorbeeld uitgeputte gasvelden, lege zoutmijnen, in tegenstelling tot elektronen waarvoor grote accu’s nodig zijn of een aanzienlijke uitbreiding van het elektriciteitsnet. Waterstof is daarmee de perfecte energiedrager”.

Beperkte infrastructuur

CaPP klinkt als een ideaal concept, maar vooralsnog komt het rijden op waterstof nog niet zo goed van de grond als het rijden met de elektrische auto aangedreven door een accu. Dit heeft met name te maken met de nog beperkt aanwezige infrastructuur. Er zijn nu welgeteld drie waterstof tankstations in Nederland. Als we in Nederland de brandstofcel-waterstof auto van de grond willen krijgen moet er flink worden geïnvesteerd in waterstof tankstations in Nederland volgens Farahani. Daarnaast moet het CaPP concept nog verder uitgetest worden in de praktijk, en de infrastructuur waarin auto’s op het elektriciteitsnet kunnen worden aangesloten’ moet op orde worden gemaakt.


Het CaPP concept is getest in the Green Village, een living lab op de TU Delft. Het conceptontwerp is toegepast bij het Shell Technology Centre in Amsterdam (STCA). Farahani experimenteerde in deze gecontroleerde omgeving met het systeemontwerp van CaPP: het koppelen van geparkeerde auto’s aan het energienet van het kantorencomplex. Zij modelleerde het systeem met zowel waterstof als accu-aangedreven voertuigen en ze gebruikte elektriciteit, waterstof en een combinatie van de twee als energiedragers in het systeem. Uit dit onderzoek blijkt dat een combinatie van elektriciteit en waterstof als energiedragers het meest kostenefficiënte systeem oplevert. “De volgende stap is nu het op orde krijgen van de infrastructuur met alle verschillende belanghebbenden, zodat auto’s straks daadwerkelijk op het energienet kunnen inpluggen. Daarnaast zijn meer auto’s nodig met een dubbel stopcontact, zodat ze ook als stroombron kunnen fungeren, want dat is nu nog niet het geval”, geeft Farahani aan. “Dan nog zal het waarschijnlijk 10 jaar duren voordat het CaPP concept in gebruik kan worden genomen. Maar dan kunnen we wel schoon en goedkoop rijden op duurzame energiebronnen én hebben we een mobiele stroombron om te voorzien in onze energiebehoefte”.


50% Hydrogen for Europe: a manifesto

May 7, 2019 by Frank Wouters and Ad van Wijk Leave a Comment

Electricity has well known limitations, mainly for bulk and long-range transportindustrial processes requiring high temperature heat, and the chemicals industry. To entirely replace fossil fuels we need hydrogen, say Frank Wouters and Prof. Dr. Ad van Wijk. It has an energy density comparable to hydrocarbons. There’s more: Europe’s electric grid can’t cope with 100% electrification, yet hydrogen would use the existing gas pipe networks. The authors lay out a plan to deliver 50% of Europe’s energy from hydrogen by 2050. Done rapidly at scale, hydrogen would soon be as cheap as gas. It will also make Europe the hydrogen market leader: what technologies Europe (or anywhere!) masters first, it can sell to the rest of the world hungry for clean energy solutions.

Electrification is one of the megatrends in the ongoing energy transition. Since 2011, the annual addition of renewable electricity capacity has outpaced the addition of coal, gas, oil and nuclear power plants combined, and this trend is continuing. Due to the recent exponential growth curve and associated cost reduction, solar and wind power on good locations are now often the lowest cost option, with production cost of bulk solar electricity in the sunbelt soon approaching the 1 $ct/kWh mark. However, electricity has limitations in industrial processes requiring high temperature heat, the chemicals industry or in bulk and long-range transport.

Green hydrogen made from renewable electricity and water will play a crucial role in our decarbonised future economy, as shown in many recent scenarios. In a system soon dominated by variable renewables such as solar and wind, hydrogen links electricity with industrial heat, materials such as steel and fertiliser, space heating, and transport fuels. Furthermore, hydrogen can be seasonally stored and can be transported cost-effectively over long distances, to a large extent using existing natural gas infrastructure. Green hydrogen in combination with green electricity has the potential to entirely replace hydrocarbons.

Energy demand in Europe

Europe is a net energy importer, with 54% of the 2016 energy needs met by imports,consisting of petroleum products, natural gas and solid fuels. Although Europe is working ambitiously to become less dependent on energy imports, it is unlikely that Europe can become entirely energy self-sufficient. Most scenarios, including BP’s Energy Outlook 2019[1] indicate that Europe shall remain a net importer of energy until mid-century and beyond.

Several recent scenarios exist for Europe’s energy system in 2050, including Shell’s Sky Scenario[2], The Hydrogen Roadmap for Europe[3]DNV-GL’s Energy Transition Outlook 2018[4] and the “Global Energy System based on 100% Renewable Energy – Power Sector” by the Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) and the Energy Watch Group (EWG) [5]. But also, several renewable energy industry associations have assessed the role of renewable energy in the European energy mix by 2050, among which are EWEA[6] and GWEC[7]. Analysing and comparing these scenarios, an estimated 2,000 GW of solar and 650 GW of wind energy capacity is required to decarbonise Europe’s electricity sector by 2050, generating roughly 3,000 TWh of solar energy and 2,000 TWh of wind energy per year. Europe’s final energy demand in 2050 is estimated to be around 10,000 TWh and 50% would then be covered by electricity from solar and wind. In most scenarios, additional electricity is generated by nuclear and hydropower.

Final energy mix in Europe (2015). SOURCE: Eurostat

Hydrogen in Europe

Green hydrogen can be produced in electrolysers using renewable electricity, can be transported using the natural gas grid and can be stored in salt caverns and depleted gas fields[8] to cater for seasonal mismatches in supply and demand of energy. It should be noted that blue hydrogen, hydrogen produced from fossil fuels with CCS, can play an important role in an intermediate period, helping kickstart hydrogen as an energy carrier alongside the introduction of green hydrogen.

Using existing gas infrastructure

In Europe the lowest cost renewable resources are hydropower in Norway and the Alps, offshore wind in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, onshore wind in selected European areas, whereby the best solar resource is in Southern Europe. The current electricity grid was not built for this, is not fit for the energy transition and needs to be drastically modernised. In 2018, an estimated € 1 billion worth of offshore wind energy was curtailed in Germany due to insufficient transmission grid capacity.

In addition, the development of new renewable energy capacity is slowed down due to the lack of grid capacity. Unfortunately, overhead power lines are difficult to realise due to environmental concerns, popular opposition and typically take more than a decade for planning, permitting and construction. However, a gas grid is much more cost-effective than an electricity grid: for the same investment a gas pipe can transport 10-20 times more energy than an electricity cable. Also, Europe has a well-developed gas grid that can be converted to accommodate hydrogen at minimal cost. Recent studies carried out by DNV-GL[9] and KIWA[10] in the Netherlands concluded that the existing gas transmission and distribution infrastructure is suitable for hydrogen with minimal or no modifications.

So instead of transporting bulk electricity throughout Europe, a more cost-efficient way would be to transport green hydrogen and have a dual electricity and hydrogen distribution system. Picture 2 shows the existing European natural gas grid (blue) and a hydrogen backbone (orange) as suggested by Hydrogen Europe and Delft University.

Picture 2: Natural gas infrastructure in Europe (blue and red lines) and first outline for a hydrogen backbone infrastructure (orange lines) [Delft University of Technology, Hydrogen Europe, 40GW Electrolyser Initiative]

A different approach: top down, not bottom up

By 2050 when Europe’s electricity system is largely based on variable renewables, hydrogen is indispensable. Several scenarios have tried to estimate the increasing demand for hydrogen in Europe over time and all of them use a bottom-up approach. Although there is merit in this approach by applying industry’s collective knowledge and a deep-dive in these sectors, the fundamental flaw lies in the fact that at present there is no market for green hydrogen, and it is therefore very difficult to estimate e.g. adoption rates for fuel cell vehicles or the willingness among consumers to choose between green gas or all-electric solutions for their domestic energy needs.

A more ambitious approach based on infrastructure development is proposed, similar to the introduction of electricity or natural gas. The fundamental philosophy is to make green hydrogen available at scale and cost-effectively and replace fossil fuels as quickly as possible by repurposing the current natural gas infrastructure to carry green hydrogen. Since the transmission and distribution infrastructure is already to a large extent available, the focus can be on developing electrolyser capacity, which is an opportunity for European market leadership.

How much hydrogen do we need or want?

65% of Europe’s current final energy demand consists of gas, coal and petroleum products, which can all be replaced by hydrogen and electricity. We therefore propose a 50% share of green hydrogen in Europe’s final energy demand for all sectors: industry, transport, commercial and households. Of course, this is a rough estimate and will differ per sector and country. It is doable in the transport sector, achieving a balanced mix of battery electric mobility for shorter distances, combined with fuel cell vehicles for heavy duty, longer ranges and higher convenience.

Share of EU Final Energy use per sector (2017). SOURCE: Eurostat

Most industrial high heat demand, currently served by natural gas, can be provided by hydrogen, and the household sector will consist of a mix of all-electric well-insulated new houses, while a large part of the existing building stock can be heated using hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen gas boilers. Including the hydrogen required for power system balancing, this represents an overall hydrogen demand of 6,000 TWh/year, which can easily be accommodated by the European natural gas grid.

The green hydrogen will be produced by additional green electricity plants in Europe over and beyond the 2,000 GW solar and 650 GW wind capacity, in addition to blue hydrogenmade from natural gas whilst capturing and storing the CO2. However, 50% of the demand will be imported from neighboring regions in North Africa and the Middle East where green hydrogen can be produced cheaply and transported through cost-effective pipelines. Additional green hydrogen can be imported in liquid or ammonia form from additional sources further away, like LNG nowadays. Europe’s import dependency will be roughly cut in half, and since hydrogen can be produced almost anywhere, the supply risk profile will be much improved.

Cost competitive hydrogen

Renewable electricity is rapidly becoming cheaper than conventional electricity made in nuclear, gas- or coal-fired power plants. If a market would develop along the lines sketched here, hydrogen can be produced at € 1 per kg, which is compatible with natural gas prices of €9/mmbtu. Since the energy content of 1 kg of hydrogen is equivalent to 3.8 litre of gasoline, it is certainly cheaper than gasoline or diesel at that price point. But the main advantage lies in the infrastructure, the proposed transition would to a large extent use the existing natural gas grid and would avoid an expensive and troublesome complete overhaul of the electricity grid.

Action agenda

A European energy system based on 50% green electricity and 50% green hydrogen as described above would have many advantages: reduced emissionsreduced price volatilityindustrial opportunityavoidance of stranding gas grid assets and increased resilience.

The following are necessary considerations for an action agenda:

  • A strong, clear and lasting political commitment is necessary, embedded in a binding European strategy with clear goals stretching over several decades.
  • A new type of public private partnership on a pan-European level must be crafted, with the aim to create an ecosystem to nurture a European clean energy industry that has the potential to be world leaders in the field. This partnership should include the existing energy industry, as well as innovative newcomers.
  • A novel enabling regulatory environment and associated market design is required for the necessary investments, whilst keeping the system costs affordable.

This implies that Europe needs to:

  1. Develop a common internal market for hydrogen
  2. Develop an internal market for power to hydrogenhydrogen to power and storage + flexibility
  3. Expand the public electricity infrastructure and make it fit for the 21st century
  4. Convert the public natural gas infrastructure into a public hydrogen infrastructure
  5. Develop large scale hydrogen storage facilities in salt caverns and depleted gas fields
  6. Expand large scale green electricity production through national and EU auctions for renewable electricity
  7. Stimulate large scale green hydrogen production through national and EU auctions for renewable hydrogen
  8. Until 2035: stimulate large scale blue hydrogen (hydrogen made from fossil fuels whereby the CO2 is captured and permanently stored) production through national and EU auctions in parallel to green hydrogen deployment
  9. Between 2035 and 2050: switch rapidly to a system 100% based on renewable electricity and green hydrogen.
  10. Develop a modern, innovative, competitive and world leading economy on green electricity and green hydrogen as energy carriers and feedstock.


Frank Wouters is a former Deputy Director-General at IRENA. For a full CV click here.

Prof. Dr. Ad van Wijk is sustainable energy entrepreneur and part-time Professor Future Energy Systems at TU Delft, the Netherlands. For a full CV click here.

This article originally appeared at: https://energypost.eu/50-hydrogen-for-europe-a-manifesto/


  1. https://www.bp.com/content/dam/bp/business-sites/en/global/corporate/pdfs/energy-economics/energy-outlook/bp-energy-outlook-2019.pdf 
  2. https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/the-energy-future/scenarios/shell-scenario-sky.html 
  3. https://fch.europa.eu/sites/default/files/Hydrogen%20Roadmap%20Europe_Report.pdf 
  4. https://eto.dnvgl.com/2018/ 
  5. http://energywatchgroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Full-Study-100-Renewable-Energy-Worldwide-Power-Sector.pdf 
  6. http://www.ewea.org/fileadmin/files/library/publications/position-papers/EWEA_2050_50_wind_energy.pdf 
  7. http://files.gwec.net/register?file=/files/GlobalWindEnergyOutlook2016 
  8. https://forschung-energiespeicher.info/wind-zu-wasserstoff/projektliste/projekt-einzelansicht/74/Wasserstoff_unter_Tage_speichern/ (in German) 
  9. https://www.topsectorenergie.nl/sites/default/files/uploads/TKI%20Gas/publicaties/DNVGL%20rapport%20verkenning%20waterstofinfrastructuur_rev2.pdf(in Dutch) 
  10. KIWA – Toekomstbestendige gasdistributienetten – GT170227 (July 2018 – in Dutch) 

Waterstof is een serieuze optie voor ruimteverwarming

Waterstof is nodig om samen met elektriciteit op een duurzame manier in onze toekomstige energiebehoefte te voorzien. Elektriciteit, vooral opgewekt met wind en zon, is een schitterende energiedrager, maar moeilijk op te slaan. Om op de juiste momenten en op de juiste plaatsen voldoende energie te hebben, is een energiedrager als waterstof nodig, die wél goed is op te slaan en die over de wereldzeeën vervoerd kan worden. De plaatsen waar het hard waait en/of de zon zeer fel schijnt, en waar dus goedkoop duurzame energie te produceren is, liggen ver van de dichtbevolkte gebieden op aarde. Waterstof zal daarom nodig zijn voor een betaalbare energieopslag en internationaal transport, en in grote hoeveelheden in onze economie beschikbaar komen. Dat lijdt weinig twijfel. En daar kan de gebouwde omgeving van mee profiteren.

De gebouwde omgeving (en de glastuinbouw) vraagt vooral veel energie voor verwarming in de koude maanden. De totale hoeveelheid energie die in de wintermaanden naar de eindgebruikers stroomt, kan tot wel tienmaal hoger zijn dan in de zomer. De zon schijnt dan nauwelijks en het is niet gegarandeerd dat de windparken voldoende elektriciteit leveren op momenten dat dit echt nodig is. Ons uitstekende gasnet vangt momenteel die klappen op, en als we – zoals sommigen bepleiten – van het gas af moeten en een belangrijk deel van de bebouwing op elektrische verwarming met warmtepompen over moet gaan, zullen elektriciteitsnetwerken sterk verzwaard moeten worden om de piekvraag te kunnen bedienen.

Voor nieuwbouw is een elektriciteitsnetaansluiting met warmtepompen voor verwarming een prima oplossing. De gasaansluiting kan dan wegblijven. Maar tot 2050 zullen ook zo’n 6-7 miljoen bestaande woningen duurzaam verwarmd moeten worden, waarvoor tot dusver vooral in de richting van warmtepompen en warmtenetten (gevoed met rest- en/of aardwarmte) gekeken wordt, soms aangevuld met biogas.

Voor elektrificatie zullen de kosten voor het aanpassen van oudere woningen (warmtepompen, andere radiatoren en/of vloerverwarming, zware isolatiemaatregelen) in het algemeen vele tienduizenden euro’s bedragen. Ook de bijbehorende versterking van de elektriciteitsnetten, om ook op de koudste dagen voldoende elektriciteit naar de gebouwen te krijgen, is kostbaar. In een studie van CE Delft uit 2016 1), waarin de ‘ketenkosten’ voor heel Nederland worden berekend van verwarming met 1. biogas, 2. warmtepompen en 3. warmtenetwerken, viel de optie warmtepompen vanwege de hoge kosten zo goed als weg. Het bleek dat de gasinzet bij de beschikbaarheid van voldoende gas (er zal te weinig biogas zijn) oploopt tot wel zo’n 75% van de hoeveelheid energie die nodig is voor verwarming. De rest wordt vooral geleverd met warmtenetten, die overigens ook gas vragen voor bijverwarming op de piekmomenten. In deze studie is gerekend met een hoge gasprijs: 75 €ct./m3, de huidige productieprijs van biogas. Maar dan nog is biogas voor de maatschappij als geheel de goedkoopste oplossing in veel situaties.

In 2016 werd waterstof nog niet gezien als een serieuze optie om te voorzien in de energiebehoefte. Inmiddels zijn studies uitgevoerd 2) 3) om te beoordelen of het hogedruk-transportnetwerk en het lagedruk-distributienetwerk geschikt zijn voor waterstof. Met bescheiden aanpassingen zijn ze dat inderdaad. De Gasunie is inmiddels een traject gestart om voor 2030 de grote industriegebieden in Nederland met waterstofleidingen, omgebouwde aardgasleidingen, met elkaar te verbinden.

Ook wezenlijk is het punt dat de centrale warmtenetwerken met aardwarmte- en restwarmte-invoeding veelal niet op de piekvraag aangelegd zullen worden – omdat dit te duur is. Om in die piekvraag te voorzien is dus een aanvullende (waterstof)gas-infrastructuur nodig, bijvoorbeeld naar warmte-krachtcentrales in de steden. Als die leidingen er toch moeten lopen, dan is het natuurlijk ook de vraag of het niet kosteneffectiever is die meteen te gebruiken voor energietransport naar (een deel van) de gebouwde omgeving (in ieder geval de oude binnensteden), zodat daar geen nieuwe warmte- en/of elektriciteitsinfrastructuur hoeft te komen.

De eerste waterstof-cv-ketels van Nederlands fabricaat worden inmiddels getest in Rozenburg. In een Engelse studie 4) is berekend dat aanpassingskosten achter de voordeur (nieuwe cv-ketel, fornuis, gasmeter en arbeidsloon) rond de 3500 euro zullen bedragen. Isolatie is ook bij toepassing van waterstofketels gewenst. Isolatie zorgt immers altijd voor minder energiegebruik en dus ook voor lagere energiekosten. Het is dan niet noodzakelijk te isoleren tot een niveau waarbij lage-temperatuur-verwarming kan worden toegepast.

Hiermee ontstaat een aantrekkelijk beeld om waterstof voor de verwarming van gebouwen te gaan gebruiken. In ieder geval daar waar andere opties niet geschikt zijn, zoals in oude binnensteden, in dorpen met veel oudbouw en op het platteland. Ook is waterstof nodig voor de (piek)aanvulling bij elektrische oplossingen en bij rest- en aardwarmtegebruik. De waterstofoptie moet daarom snel beter onderzocht worden op de integrale maatschappelijke kosten in vergelijking met andere opties. De gemeentes die hun warmtevisies voor 2021 opgesteld moeten hebben, in samenhang met de Regionale Energie Strategieën, dienen de waterstofoptie dan ook serieus mee te wegen.

Door Chris Hellinga en Ad van Wijk

1) N. Naber, B. Schepers, M. Schuurbiers en F. Rooijers, „Een klimaatneutrale warmtevoorziening voor de gebouwde omgeving – update 2016,” CE Delft, 2016.

2) R. Hermkens, S. Jansma, M. v. d. Laan, H. d. Laat, B. Pilzer en K. Pulles, „Toekomstbestendige gasdistributienetten,” KIWA, 2018

3) A. v. d. Noort, W. Sloterdijk en M. Vos, „Verkenning waterstofinfrastructuur,” DNV GL, Groningen, 2017

4) D. Sadler, A. Cargill, M. Crowther, A. Rennie, J. Watt, S. Burton en M. Haines, „H21 Leeds City Gate,” Northern Gas Networks, 2016.

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‘Ontwikkelingen bij waterstof gaan hard maar nog veel uitdagingen’


Kon groene waterstof tot voor kort op veel scepsis rekenen, nu wordt deze energiedrager een grote potentie toegedicht bij de energietransitie. Volgens Jos Boere, directeur van Allied Waters, gaan de ontwikkelingen hard. “Veel bedrijven in de transportsector oriënteren zich al op waterstof-elektrisch vervoer.” Maar er zijn ook nog genoeg uitdagingen.

Jos Boere zegt dat naar aanleiding van het seminar ‘Waterstof, Warmte en Water: sleutels tot het post-fossiele energietijdperk’. Dit werd eerder deze week georganiseerd door KWR Watercycle Research Institute en Allied Waters, het uit KWR voortgekomen bedrijf gericht op het internationaal vermarkten van baanbrekende innovaties. Deze organisaties houden zich inmiddels zo’n vier jaar bezig met groene waterstof, die wordt geproduceerd door splitsing van water met behulp van elektriciteit uit wind- of zonne-energie.

Jos Boere

Jos Boere

In het begin kreeg Boere veel sceptische reacties als hij het had over de mogelijkheden van waterstof. “Mensen kwamen met tegenwerpingen als: duur, gevaarlijk, te grote omschakeling.” Maar vooral na de aardbeving in Groningen in januari 2018 is de opinie in Nederland omgeslagen. “Daardoor is erg veel in gang gezet. Denk aan het streven naar Nederland aardgasvrij binnen ruim tien jaar en aan de klimaatdoelstellingen. Waterstof wordt nu gezien als een goede kandidaat voor de toekomst.”

Trekkracht vanuit markt
De energiedrager is volgens Boere in drie opzichten interessant. Waterstof kan dienen als voeding van brandstofcellen voor elektrisch vervoer. Ook is waterstof in te zetten als energiebuffer, dus voor de opslag van energie waaruit later bijvoorbeeld elektriciteit kan worden gemaakt. Verder kan waterstof zeer waarschijnlijk worden gebruikt om oude gebouwen te verwarmen, zegt Boere. “Ons goede aardgasnetwerk is hierbij een asset. Op verschillende plekken zijn pilots in de maak om te laten zien dat dit ook voor waterstof kan worden gebruikt. Daarmee krijgt het aardgasnetwerk een tweede leven.”

Het Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving schrijft in de gisteren gepubliceerde doorrekening van het ontwerp-Klimaatakkoord dat hierin een ambitieus programma voor groene waterstof wordt gepresenteerd. Het planbureau zet daarbij vraagtekens en mist bindende afspraken. Boere vindt echter het programma in het akkoord wat betreft waterstof helemaal niet zo ambitieus. “Het kan zomaar zijn dat de autonome ontwikkelingen harder gaan dan we nu denken. Ik zie trekkracht vanuit de markt komen. Zo zijn veel bedrijven in de transportsector zich al aan het oriënteren op waterstof-elektrisch vervoer. Het is echt aan het kantelen.”

 ‘Door waterstof krijgt het aardgasnetwerk een tweede leven’

Hij wijst op de bijdrage van twee sprekers bij de bijeenkomst: Richard Klatten van Future Proof Shipping en Robert Scholman van aannemersbedrijf Jos Scholman. “Het eerste bedrijf bouwt een groot binnenvaartschip om, zodat dit kan varen op groene waterstof. Het aannemersbedrijf heeft tweehonderd voertuigen en wil die geleidelijk omschakelen naar waterstoftechniek. Zij doen dat niet alleen omdat ze het een goed idee vinden, maar vooral omdat klanten erom vragen. Zo kan een bedrijf zich in de markt onderscheiden op duurzaamheid.”

Goede uitgangspositie voor Nederland
Een andere spreker was Noé van Hulst, sinds een half jaar Nationaal Waterstofgezant. Hij ging in op internationale initiatieven als de Hydrogen Council. Hierbij zijn onder andere olieconcerns en autofabrikanten aangesloten die miljarden investeren in waterstofgerelateerde producten. Van Hulst vertelde dat Nederland een goede uitgangspositie heeft om voorop te lopen op het terrein van waterstof. Dat komt onder meer door het aardgasnetwerk en de kennis bij mkb-bedrijven.

Tijdens het seminar is Ad van Wijk, duurzaam energiespecialist en deeltijdhoogleraar aan de TU Delft, benoemd tot Honorary Fellow 2018 van KWR. De waterstofpionier kreeg deze onderscheiding vanwege zijn grote verdiensten voor KWR, waarvoor hij sinds 2013 parttime werkt. Zo heeft Van Wijk het concept Power to X bedacht voor de lokale inzet en opslag van duurzame energie en (hemel)water.

Techniek nog duur
Wat moet er volgens Boere de komende jaren verbeteren bij groene waterstof? “Schaalvergroting en kostenreductie. De grootste uitdaging is om de keten sluitend te krijgen. De productietechniek is nu erg duur en ook de vraagkant moet zich nog goed ontwikkelen. Ik ben optimistisch dat de keten in beweging komt gezien de huidige ontwikkelingen.”

Boere verwacht dat in de geëlektrificeerde toekomst zowel batterijen als waterstof-brandstofcellen een grote rol zullen spelen. “Het is niet óf-óf maar én-én. In alle gevallen valt er nog veel te optimaliseren. Dat vergt inspanningen in onderzoek en innovatie. Prachtige uitdagingen toch!”

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