Optimising hydrogen production using electrolysis
Today, we emit a large amount of CO2 during the production of hydrogen. Much remains to be done to stimulate the production and use of green hydrogen, produced entirely from sun and wind. Electrolysis, the splitting of water into oxygen and hydrogen, with electricity from wind and sun is the main option.
We are working in various ways on optimising and reducing the cost of producing green hydrogen. Electrolysis is a proven technology. But there are still several challenges for its large-scale deployment.
Scaling up electrolysis by a factor of a thousand
The capacity of the electrolysers, which we are currently installing in subsidised pilots, is no greater than 1 to 10 megawatts. To supply our country with CO2-free hydrogen, we need to move towards gigawatt-scale electrolysis. This means scaling up by a factor of a thousand. Once these electrolysers are in place, we should use them preferably:
- in sectors that are difficult to make sustainable, such as the steel industry, heavy road traffic, aviation and shipping
- for supplying electricity during periods without wind or sun
- to integrate the large amount of wind at sea into our energy system by converting some of it into hydrogen
Drastically reducing costs
Also, the cost of producing green hydrogen is still 2 to 3 times too high for it to be able to compete with grey hydrogen produced from natural gas. The comparison with today's natural gas, without CO2 capture, is no longer relevant in the long term because it releases enormous amounts of CO2.
The electrolysers need to come down in price because they are in use only part of the time, solely for renewable electricity. In the case of offshore wind, this is approximately 4,000 hours a year. We are working with manufacturers and suppliers on new components, alternative materials and circular designs to significantly reduce costs and increase lifespan. This would remove the barrier to large-scale production of sustainable hydrogen. Would you, as a manufacturer or supplier, like to participate? Then don’t hesitate to contact us.
Research and pilot plants
In the Gigawatt Electrolyser project, we are working with companies and universities in our country and beyond to design a new electrolyser. It should be built before 2030.
In Groningen we are working on the Hydrohub. This is an open research centre where 13 parties including the Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT) and TNO work together to optimise and scale up electrolysis.
In the EU project H2FUTURE, we are closely involved in a demonstration project. Here, a 6-megawatt PEM electrolyser was installed at an Austrian steel company.
The Faraday Lab
In Petten, we have the largest hydrogen research facility in Europe: the Faraday laboratory. Faraday is an open innovation lab focused on optimising low temperature (PEM, alkaline, AEM) and high temperature (SOE) electrolysis technologies. In the Faraday laboratory, we work on technological breakthroughs for upscaling. There is close collaboration between the Hydrohub in Groningen and companies in the chain that have materials and components tested here and which they continue to develop together. This means that they don't need to invest in test facilities themselves.
Electrolysis at sea
Another development is the research into electrolysis at sea. Project PosHYdon is a demo installation on Neptune Energy's Q13a oil and gas platform off the coast of The Hague. This project will produce green hydrogen from renewable electricity generated by wind and sun. The challenge here is to build electrolysers that, unlike those based on land, can withstand the far more extreme conditions at sea.
Electrolysis production: an opportunity for the Dutch manufacturing industry
Hydrogen is one of the pillars of the energy transition and can be the growth engine for a new economy. The Netherlands is at the forefront of international efforts to become a supplier of electrolysers. This is evident from a survey we carried out together with FME, the employers' organisation for the technology industry. But there is still work to be done here. At the moment, the Netherlands lacks a fully-fledged industry able to manufacture electrolysers on a large scale. One of the recommendations made by the survey is to set up a national 'Electrolyser Makers Platform (pdf) (pdf)'.
Download the whitepaper
Electrolysers: opportunities for the Dutch manufacturing industry