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Port Authority: towards larger-scale hydrogen production and network

BP, Nouryon (formerly AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals) and the Port of Rotterdam Authority are jointly investigating the possibilities of producing green hydrogen for the BP refinery in Rotterdam. Green hydrogen is produced by electrolysis of water using green power. Large-scale production of green hydrogen requires huge amounts of green electricity, for example from offshore wind farms, in addition to a very high electrolysing capacity. The Port Authority is therefore also looking into realising a hydrogen backbone and a special industrial site for electrolysers.

The role of the Port of Rotterdam Authority in the project with BP and Nouryon is to facilitate development of the local infrastructure. Among other things, this involves selecting the location of the electrolyser. The plant can be placed either where the electricity comes ashore, on the BP site or possibly at another location. The choice will determine what will ultimately be transported, green electricity or hydrogen, and it therefore has implications for the infrastructure needed.

The Port Authority is not only looking at the location of this electrolyser and the infrastructure for the transport of electricity and hydrogen, but also at the infrastructure required for the water supply. After all, an electrolyser breaks apart water (H2O) molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The study will also take into account a possible connection to the heat grid and oxygen pipelines.

In terms of planning and the continued optimisation of the infrastructure through the port, we shall also be looking into whether this is to be a stand-alone project or whether it will herald a backbone (ring pipeline) for hydrogen in the port area. For example, a feasibility study into the construction of a blue hydrogen plant - the H-vision project - is currently underway. In this case, the hydrogen will be produced from natural gas, and the CO2 released will be captured and used in greenhouses or stored in gas fields beneath the North Sea. Blue hydrogen is regarded as an accelerator and pioneer for green hydrogen, partly because oxygen is required for the production of blue hydrogen (using ATR technology). The production of green hydrogen actually releases oxygen. The availability of blue hydrogen will also make companies less dependent on green hydrogen.

Achieving a CO2-neutral industry in Rotterdam by 2050 will require the large-scale production of hydrogen. According to studies by the Wuppertal Institute, it will involve capacity that is 10 to 30 times greater than that of this 250 MW electrolyser: 2.5 to 6.4 GW. And that is only the demand from industry in Rotterdam. For this reason, in parallel with this study, Port Authority will shortly also be looking into the possibility of developing a 2 GW energy conversion park. A concentration of electrolysers could be built here. Among other things, this should result in lower costs, especially for the connecting infrastructure.

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