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Hydrogen developments in the Netherlands – how to convert a vision into concrete measures

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Netherlands

Following the Dutch government's vision on hydrogen as published in March 2020, the HyWay27 study (https://www.hyway27.nl/en/hyway-27-is-completed), commissioned by the government, has been concluded in June 2021.

The HyWay27 report is the result of a joint study by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the Ministry of Finance, Gasunie and TenneT into the question whether, and under what conditions, part of the existing natural gas network can be used for the transport and distribution of hydrogen. This research reaffirms the great importance of CO2-free hydrogen for the Dutch ambition of achieving a sustainable, climate-neutral economy.

In Hyway27, the focus has been on the use of pipelines that are part of the natural gas transmission network. The study did not cover the use of regional natural gas distribution networks owned by regional network operators.

In a letter dated 30 June 2021 to the House of Representatives, the state secretary for Economic Affairs announced that, on the basis of the report, the government has concluded that a transport network for hydrogen is necessary in a CO2-free hydrogen chain, and that this network should (for the sake of cost-effectiveness) consist as much as possible of existing pipelines for the transport of natural gas. These pipelines will become available due to the accelerated closure of the Groningen natural gas field. This objective ties in with the developments and ambitions regarding hydrogen in neighbouring countries and in Europe, as expressed in the hydrogen strategies of the European Commission and Germany.

That is why the government is now starting to develop a plan for a substantiated and phased rollout of a national hydrogen transport network. This plan will have to provide clarity about where and when the transmission network will be developed, and therefore also where it will not be developed (for the time being), and what budgetary resources are required for this.

Gasunie, the owner of the natural gas transmission network, has already gained experience in making an existing transport pipeline for natural gas suitable for hydrogen.

In order to actually implement these plans, the next cabinet, which is currently being formed, will have to take a decision, including the allocation of the financial resources to be made available and the market organization.
Through the letter and the report, the government is also sending out a signal to industry. Companies considering using CO2-free hydrogen need to know what infrastructure will become available and when in order to be able to purchase CO2-free hydrogen and thus build suitable business cases. With the development of a transport network for hydrogen, an essential part of the hydrogen chain can be realised.

These initiatives underline the commitment of the Dutch government to building a strong position for the Netherlands as a hydrogen country.

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