‘Port of Amsterdam chooses LOHC as hydrogen carrier’
Energy conversion in the ports
Amsterdam is currently still an important port for the storage and transhipment of fossil fuels, but that will change: biofuels and hydrogen will determine the future, says Eduard de Visser, Strategy and Innovation Director at the Port of Amsterdam.
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With Tata Steel and KLM / Schiphol, the Port of Amsterdam has two large customers in its hinterland that use a lot of fuel and are difficult to make sustainable. The capitals, however, expect hydrogen to become an important means of improving this. For example, hydrogen can be converted into synthetic fuels in the port of Amsterdam, which can then be used to refuel KLM’s aircraft at Schiphol.
“From a chemical point of view, oil consists of a hydrocarbon chain,” explains De Visser. ‘Synthetic fuels are the same. So with green hydrogen and CO2, you can make the same fuels that we currently use, but without crude oil and sustainably. It’s interesting for aviation. ‘
The ambition to supply large quantities of clean fuels is high in Amsterdam. “We expect to need about 200 kilotons of hydrogen in 2030 and about 550 kilotons in 2050. That’s a lot, because a 100 MW electrolyzer produces about 15 kilotons of hydrogen a year. We now have 100 MW available locally for the production of green energy, via offshore wind in IJmuiden, and we want a total of 1 GW of local electrolysis capacity. After this, the connection to the spine is very important. We also expect to import large quantities by sea from 2030, but a final decision has not yet been made. ‘
The first 100 MW electrolyzer is expected to produce the first hydrogen in 2026. The upscaling should be operational one year later. “Unlike Rotterdam, we will not work with ammonia as a carrier for hydrogen, but with LOHC,” says De Visser. ‘Liquid Organic Hydrogen Carriers.’
According to experts, LOHC may be a little more expensive to make than ammonia, but that does not stop Amsterdam from seeing a future in LOHC. De Visser: ‘Ammonia is especially useful if it is also your end product. If you want to crack it back into pure hydrogen, it can be compared in price to LOHC. While the latter is not toxic. If we look at the steel and aerospace industries, ammonia is not an interesting application. Ammonia is an ugly substance and poses health risks, especially in the built environment. LOHC also has the advantage that it can be handled excellently via our terminals and other existing infrastructure. ‘
The Port of Amsterdam will soon primarily deal with the construction of the infrastructure, De Visser explains. ‘HyCC builds the electrolyzer (HyCC, Hydrogen Chemistry Company, is a young Dutch hydrogen company, ed.), Tata will use the hydrogen. Together with Gasunie, we are building the connection between IJmuiden and Amsterdam. And in Amsterdam we are building our own infrastructure via pipelines. ‘
“The main challenge is that we are in a new market that does not yet have the efficiency and economies of scale that a 150-year-old fossil fuel market has built up. But that is the price we have to pay for the pure alternative. With offshore wind, we saw that within fifteen years we could develop an offshore wind market from aid-independent to aid-independent. I see no reason why this should not be possible in the hydrogen market, based on the understanding that there is a greater time pressure here to boost the market. The techniques are known, we do not have to invent anything new. The challenge lies primarily in upscaling. Where do you start? ‘
This is part 3/9 in a series of interviews about the role that Dutch and Flemish ports play in the energy transition. Do you know more? Come to the Flemish-Dutch harbor day on 30 June 2022 in Rotterdam.