‘Green hydrogen’ could play an important role in the energy transition. Hydrogen, produced using renewable power, can be used as an energy carrier to store electricity or as a clean fuel for cars, trucks and buses. It could also be used as a raw material for industry and to produce heat. EnTranCe is involved in a number of different research projects on the applications possible for green hydrogen as part of a sustainable energy supply.
Heat generation via hydrogen
In Hoogeveen, for example, EnTranCe is involved in the realization of a hydrogen district as a partner of the Hydrogreenn Platform. The idea behind this pilot study is to supply 80 existing homes with power and heat from hydrogen. ‘We want to move away from the use of natural gas, but still keep homes warm’, says Jan-jaap Aué, Director of EnTranCe | Centre of Expertise Energy and Professor of Energy Transition. ‘We need an alternative to natural gas for heating in the medium term. We won’t be able to rely solely on electricity, particularly not in old city centres and rural areas. We want to research the possibility of hydrogen as an alternative in Hoogeveen.’
Not new at all
‘The funny thing is that the idea of using hydrogen really isn’t new at all’, says Aué. ‘Cars were running on hydrogen before they started to use diesel and many residents of cities were using so-called ‘city gas’ to cook with 100 years ago. This gas had a hydrogen content of 60%.’ However, what is new is the large-scale availability of renewable energy that can be used to create hydrogen. ‘Although the price of solar and wind energy still needs to come down, it is continuing to fall.’
Integration into the energy system
How do you go about integrating green hydrogen into our energy system? EnTranCe has joined forces with various partners to consider this question. Will we be able to absorb local peaks in the supply of solar or wind power by producing hydrogen? Also, will vehicles be able to run on it without any problems? To answer these questions, the Dutch-German Power to Flex collaborative project is developing a small-scale hydrogen fuel system. The European Store&Go project is considering larger-scale hydrogen production and long-term storage in the gas network or underground. EnTranCe and its partners are seeking to identify technical, economic, social and legal consequences at test locations in Switzerland, Germany and Italy.
A new perspective
Aué: ‘I’m convinced that hydrogen will become an important contributor to our energy supply in the future. Here in the Northern Netherlands, we have every reason to lead the way in the development of a hydrogen economy. Huge quantities of green power make their way onto the land here from wind farms out at sea, the Delfzijl chemicals park is a source of local custom and a good gas infrastructure is in place to transport the hydrogen to customers further away. Hydrogen would also create a new economic perspective for the region.’