From grey and blue to green hydrogen
Production from water via electrolysis with sustainable electricity from sun and wind is a CO2-free alternative. But for the production of green hydrogen, there are still technological barriers to be overcome. TNO is working on green hydrogen innovations for production, transport, storage and use as a fuel and raw material.
Thanks to our North Sea location, existing infrastructure and knowledge, among other things, our country has everything it needs to become a major hydrogen hub for north-western Europe. TNO is a centre of expertise in this field and works closely with key players in the energy transition and with Dutch start-ups. If you want to work with us on green hydrogen, get in contact with us.
Green hydrogen only alternative
Hydrogen plays an important role in the transition to a sustainable energy supply. At present, grey hydrogen is mainly produced by reforming natural gas for industrial applications. This releases a lot of CO2. The main applications are in the chemical industry for making ammonia and fertiliser, and for oil refining.
Apart from electricity, green hydrogen is the only alternative to using wind and solar energy on a large scale in the future sustainable energy system. Even for sectors that are difficult to decarbonise, such as high-temperature industrial processes, heavy transport and aviation, electricity from solar and wind power is not sufficient or feasible, but in many cases green hydrogen is a good alternative.
The main way to make green hydrogen is electrolysis, where water is split into hydrogen and oxygen. As a result, the extraction and integration of solar and wind energy into our energy system can be greatly expanded. However, a lot of extra capacity is needed at the electrolysis plants. Together with companies in the manufacturing industry, TNO is working on electrolysers with a significantly higher power output, a longer life span and lower costs.
Low-CO2 (blue) hydrogen as an intermediate step
As an intermediate step, low-CO2 (blue) hydrogen plays an important role, with most of the CO2 emissions, up to 90%, being captured during the production of grey hydrogen and stored, for example, in empty gas fields in the North Sea (Carbon Capture and Storage, CCS). In the H-vision project, initiated by TNO and developed with parties in the port of Rotterdam area, parties are working on this solution. That could lead to a huge step forward in making industry in our country CO2-low.
Applications of hydrogen
In our envisaged sustainable energy system, hydrogen has a number of applications. It is suitable as a clean fuel for heavy industrial processes, raw material for the production of fuels and chemicals, fuel for heavy transport by road, rail, water and eventually even aviation.
Work with us
The fluctuating energy requirement in our country is putting extra pressure on our electricity network. We can prevent this by producing hydrogen with the "overcapacity" and storing it for later use. TNO is researching this and is looking for network operators and energy suppliers to test this solution. If you are interested in a collaboration, please contact us.
Want to work with us?
Contact Lennart van der Burg
TNO is working in various ways to optimise the production of green hydrogen and make it cheaper to produce. Electrolysis is a proven technology but not yet mature enough to be used on a large scale. The capacity of electrolysis plants has to be increased considerably in order to make the outlined applications possible on a large scale.
Then hydrogen will also make an important contribution to flexibility in the energy system. It enables the large-scale buffering and storage of the variable supply of solar and wind energy. As a result, this energy can be used in a targeted manner. Supply and demand can be matched over longer periods, possibly even seasons. Wind and solar energy harvested in the summer, for example, can then be used in the winter.
Would you like to know more about optimising production of green hydrogen? Learn more on this page!
Storage and transport
TNO has previously revealed a plan to conduct research into electrolysers in the North Sea. It is expected that in the future part of the hydrogen at sea will be produced on energy islands. Floating or existing platforms and existing gas pipelines can be used to bring the hydrogen to land. This is much easier and cheaper than bringing the electricity generated by the wind farms ashore via cables. Research must show whether storage of hydrogen in depleted gas fields under the North Sea is safe and profitable.
Would you like to know more about storage and transport of green hydrogen? Learn more on this page!
Fuel and raw material
TNO is involved in a large number of national and international projects in the field of sustainable mobility and logistics. We are also working on pioneering technologies such as the conversion of electricity into heat (Power2Heat), the production of hydrogen via innovative electrolysers (Power2Hydrogen), the conversion of sustainable hydrogen into fuels (Power2Fuels or E-Fuels) and the indirect thermochemical and direct electrochemical conversion of water, CO2 and nitrogen using electricity into chemicals (Power2Chemicals).
Would you like to know more about green hydrogen as a new form of fuel and feedstock? Learn more on this page!
Ten things you need to know about hydrogen