Hydrogen in transport: mobility as a catalyst for Hydrogen Valley

Hive.Mobility, EnTranCe and New Energy Coalition organized the New Energy Forum on June 24th. The first edition of this festival about energy transition and sustainable mobility took place online. During the workshop ‘Mobility as a catalyst for Hydrogen Valley’, three representatives from different sectors of the transport industry spoke. How do they contribute to the sustainable transition with the application of hydrogen in mobility?

Northern Netherlands is the first Hydrogen Valley

If hydrogen is to play a starring role in sustainable mobility, the entire hydrogen chain must first be further developed. The Northern Netherlands is the first ‘Hydrogen Valley’ in Europe, where a European subsidy underlines the unique position of this region. Hydrogen is mainly considered a good zero-emission alternative for the chemical industry, but it is also a perfect option – and already regularly used – for mobility. During the workshop, led by Patrick Cnubben of New Energy Coalition, the three presenters discussed the role of mobility as a catalyst for the Northern Netherlands as Hydrogen Valley.

Hydrogen in public transport

Michel van der Mark outlines how transport company Qbuzz has used hydrogen to green its fleet of city and regional buses in the Northern Netherlands. Years ago, the company focused on electric driving, but this turned out to be difficult to organize, especially on longer routes, due to charging. “That’s how we came to hydrogen”, explains Van der Mark.

The realization of a hydrogen filling point for the regional buses did require the necessary collaboration. Various public and private parties came together within the framework of Hydrogen Valley. There was support from the province and ministry, the Nouryon chlorine factory in Delfzijl had the necessary hydrogen molecules in stock as a residual material and, in the end, the first filling station for buses was built by Total. For the next filling station in Groningen, Shell showed interest in the public tender to build Shell’s largest and first hydrogen filling station for buses in the world. Next year a first commercial filling station will be built by Shell in Emmen and Qbuzz will be the launching customer with 10 buses. “This way you can see how public transport is driving the market”, concludes Van der Mark about this successful partnership.

Hydrogen in shipping

Herbert Colmer discussed the application of hydrogen in shipping on behalf of Groningen Seaports. He specifically discusses the salt transport from Delfzijl to Rotterdam, where the aforementioned Nouryon also produces chlorine. Groningen Seaports is helping the company to use the hydrogen that is released in their own electric transport of salt to Rotterdam. The required electricity can be generated from hydrogen via so-called fuel cells.

Problem: refuelling in the port proved unprofitable at the current speed. Together with a number of partners, a system is being developed in the ports of Groningen Seaports with hydrogen containers that can be filled in advance. On arrival, the empty containers can easily be replaced by new, full containers. Colmer refers emphatically to the influence of public transport in this hydrogen application. “By demonstrating with buses that hydrogen can also be used outside industry, this new chain can be built to make shipping more sustainable.

Hydrogen in aviation

Jonas van Dorp describes the pioneering role of Groningen Airport Eelde as Hydrogen Valley Airport in the field of emission-free flying. “We want to be a demo location. A testing ground in which new initiatives can be tested.” Hydrogen passenger flights are a long-term project, but battery-powered flights are already a possibility within the next decade.

Hydrogen can play an important role for these batteries. The airport is therefore already producing hydrogen itself via a link with a solar park. For the time being, they are mainly looking at the application of the hydrogen produced on the ground. Van Dorp explains that the airport wants to be ready for a future with flying on hydrogen, but that will take a while. “We can do the ground-based part faster and we need partners from the region for that.

Watch the complete workshop ‘Mobility as a catalyst of Hydrogen Valley’ during the New Energy Forum (in Dutch) below.

About the New Energy Forum

On Thursday 24 June 2021, a new annual festival about energy transition and sustainable mobility took place: the New Energy Forum. During this hybrid festival, day chairman Diederik Jekel took visitors and viewers into the smart, new world of energy and mobility. The festival is an initiative of Hive.Mobility, EnTranCe Center of Expertise Energy of the Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen and New Energy Coalition and is set up to show visitors the latest developments, share knowledge and offer inspiration. All program components of this year can be viewed via www.newenergyforum.nl.