Hydrogen, the fuel of the future?

A remarkable vessel sailed into the port of Amsterdam recently. She is called Energy Observer and the name says it all. The French vessel sails emission free and the stop in Amsterdam is part of a 6 years voyage in which the vessel visits 50 countries. The goal of the journey is to promote hydrogen as a (marine) fuel. The Port of Amsterdam and the Port of Rotterdam are already making plans to make hydrogen a part of their infrastructure.

A remarkable vessel sailed into the port of Amsterdam recently. She is called Energy Observer and the name says it all. The French vessel sails emission free and the stop in Amsterdam is part of a 6 years voyage in which the vessel visits 50 countries. The goal of the journey is to promote hydrogen as a (marine) fuel. The Port of Amsterdam and the Port of Rotterdam are already making plans to make hydrogen a part of their infrastructure.

Energy Observer is a hydrogen vessel, with zero greenhouse gas emissions or fine particles. This former race boat has been fully transformed, powered by electric propulsion thanks to a mix of renewable energies and a hydrogen production system that produces carbon-free hydrogen on board using seawater. “It is a magical feeling to skip the bunkering station and sail on,” says Jérôme Delafosse, expedition leader of the Energy Observer. “We believe that hydrogen is the future of energy. With our vessel we want to show the world that it is possible to make a journey of six years only using green energy.”

Eduard de Visser, Director Strategy and Innovation of the Port of Amsterdam, also believes that hydrogen has a bright future. “We would like to see that vessels using our port would switch to renewable fuels, like green hydrogen.” The Port of Amsterdam is looking at the possibilities to use hydrogen as a fuel for their vessels. This year the first vessel should be converted with a hydrogen engine.

Energy transition

De Visser states that hydrogen not only can be used as a fuel for the maritime sector. “It is also an alternative for gasoline and kerosene. At the moment a lot of those fuels are stored in our port. In fact, we are one of the biggest ports when it comes to storing those fuels.” Because of the energy transition, Amsterdam would like those fuels to be replaced with greener alternatives, like hydrogen. “We have the knowledge and expertise to make our infrastructure suitable for hydrogen.”























The Energy Observer

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The Port of Amsterdam is taking the first steps in that direction. They announced their plans to develop a green hydrogen cluster in October. Nouryon (formerly AkzoNobel Specialty Chemicals) and Tata Steel are partners in this project. As a first step, the parties will study the feasibility of a 100 megawatt water electrolysis facility to produce up to 15,000 tons of hydrogen per year as well as oxygen at Tata Steel’s IJmuiden site. By using renewable electricity, the initial unit will enable a carbon saving of up to 350,000 tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to the emissions of more than 40,000 households. A final investment decision is expected in 2021. The partner companies have the ambition to further scale up the technology.


Focus on infrastructure

Nouryon will operate the facility, while Tata Steel will use the oxygen to further enhance the sustainability of its production processes. The parties will jointly explore different routes to use hydrogen for turning steel mill emissions into useful chemicals and products. The Port of Amsterdam will focus on the infrastructure for further distribution of green hydrogen, which will be the basis for the development of new industries and zero-emission transport in the Amsterdam area. Nouryon also works with the Port of Rotterdam to explore the opportunity of making green hydrogen via water electrolysis for BP’s refinery, which has the potential for significant reductions in CO2 emissions. The parties have signed a memorandum of understanding to study the feasibility of a 250-megawatt water electrolysis facility to produce up to 45,000 tonnes of green hydrogen yearly using renewable energy. It would be the largest of its kind in Europe.

Reduction

The refinery currently uses hydrogen made from hydrocarbons, to desulphurize products. Replacing this entirely with green hydrogen produced from water using renewable energy could potentially result in a reduction of 350,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year based on current circumstances. Nouryon would build and operate the facility based on its position in sustainable electrochemistry. The Port of Rotterdam would facilitate local infrastructure and investigate options for further development of a green hydrogen hub in the area. The partners intend to take a final investment decision on the project in 2022.


Knut Schwalenberg, Managing Director Industrial Chemicals at Nouryon: “This partnership builds on our expertise in electrolysis technology to open up new value chains. With green hydrogen, we can provide sustainable solutions to our customers ranging from low-carbon fuels and industrial processes to new forms of circular chemistry.”


“Development of large-scale electrolysers connected to offshore wind farms is vital for making solid progress with the new energy system in order to realize our climate goals,” says Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam. “This 250-megawatt electrolyser is a key proof point that Rotterdam has the ability to be a frontrunner in the energy transition, which is an important differentiator for the port industry.”


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