The Netherlands, North Rhine-Westphalia and the Federal Republic of Germany are conducting a joint study into the feasibility of a transnational green hydrogen value chain that extends from the North Sea to the industrial clusters in the border region of the Netherlands and North Rhine-Westphalia.

The research is being conducted as a trilateral project of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate of the Netherlands, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitization and Energy of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany. Each of the three parties has designated an institution to lead the project or will do so in the coming period. The Netherlands has designated TNO and North Rhine-Westphalia has designated research center IEK-3 Forschungszentrum Jülich.

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Large Scale Hydrogen Production from Offshorewind to Decarbonise the Dutch and German Industry


The use of green hydrogen is an attractive option to minimise CO2 emissions from heavy industry in the Ruhr area, for example, with production sourced from offshore wind in the North Sea, off the coast of Germany and the Netherlands. But how can this hydrogen be transported from the North Sea to the Ruhr? With the availability of Gasunie's gas transport infrastructure due to the closure of the Groningen gas field means that it can be used for transporting hydrogen, with export opportunities to Germany.

TNO is working with partners to investigate the feasibility of this plan, which should bring the decarbonisation of German and Dutch industry closer. At the beginning of October, Dutch Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Minister Wiebes and his German counterpart, Altmaier, signed a declaration of intent for cooperation between the two countries around the energy transition. Hydrogen is an important part of this as a clean fuel for industrial production. The feasibility study focuses on market demand and the research institute Jülich conducts research into large-scale production of green hydrogen. Gasunie is investigating how to make its grid suitable for transport and TNO is examining both hydrogen transport and storage in salt caverns.

Large-scale transport and storage

Gasunie has a gas backbone that supplies and connects the large industrial clusters in our country, such as Rotterdam, Terneuzen, IJmuiden, Eemshaven and Zuid-Limburg. Particularly in the east, large pipelines run from north to south to transport Groningen gas, with connections to Germany. Gasunie also manages part of the gas grid in Germany. The study should show how this infrastructure can be used to transport the hydrogen that is sustainably produced on a large scale at sea to the large industrial complexes in the Ruhr region such as steel production, chemicals and refineries. Moreover, both countries have salt caverns in which hydrogen can be stored safely and on a large scale.

TNO is also investigating the possibilities of using empty gas fields under the North Sea for this purpose. At times of great demand, the hydrogen from the gas fields can be brought ashore via existing pipelines or transported to industry from temporary storage in underground salt layers. Long-distance transport of energy in the form of gas molecules is also much cheaper than electrons via cables and requires little new infrastructure.

Alignment of laws and regulations

The Netherlands has been cooperating with other European countries such as Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, France, Austria and Switzerland in the Pentalateral Energy Forum for some time now. Cross-border cooperation, such as that with Germany at present, requires, among other things, the alignment of laws and regulations for technology, safety, management and supervision.

Industrial parties interested in hydrogen production, transport or use are invited to participate in the project to provide information on potential supply and demand of green hydrogen.

Many initiatives

Sustainably produced hydrogen is capable of supplying industry with clean fuels and raw materials on a large scale. The plan for cooperation with Germany is one of the many initiatives on hydrogen for industry in which TNO is involved. Together with Neptune Energy and NexStep, TNO is looking in the PosHYdon project at the development of a hydrogen plant at sea that converts wind energy into hydrogen. Earlier this year, a feasibility study was completed in the Rotterdam port area on the introduction of blue hydrogen, which is an important step towards a green hydrogen economy. In this project, H-vision, CO2 emissions in the hydrogen produced from natural gas are captured and stored in empty gas fields under the North Sea.

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  • Hydrogen
  • Gas
  • LNG
  • Transition
  • Offshore Energy