Utrecht embraces green hydrogen for heavy transport

LIFE NEW HYTS kick-off on 24 June

Green hydrogen is on the rise and an ambitious project has also been set up out of Nieuwegein, near Utrecht. The festive launch of LIFE NEW HYTS, a Utrecht and European project for green hydrogen, was on 24 June. Green hydrogen has enormous potential for making heavy transport – including waterborne transport – more sustainable in the near future. LIFE NEW HYTS stands for ReNewable Green Hydrogen for Transport and it is funded by the LIFE programme from Brussels.

What it takes, is guts

Has the breakthrough of hydrogen reached a dead end? Not as far as the people behind LIFE NEW HYTS are concerned. Just getting started, and guts: that’s what it takes. Guts from The Hague, guts from Europe and guts from the entrepreneurs, was the view expressed by Jörg Gigler of TKI Urban Energy at the launch. In LIFE NEW HYTS, KWR is working with the provincial authority of Utrecht, Hysolar, Stamhuis, Van Heezik, Van den Heerik’s Internationaal Transportbedrijf B.V. and Jos Scholman Beheer B.V. This alliance of knowledge, expertise, entrepreneurship and coordination in governance, is rolling up its sleeves and getting stuck in to establish the chain of local production, distribution and application in Nieuwegein. A 9MWP solar field (which can supply electricity for 3,000 homes) will deliver the green energy for the 2.5 Megawatt electrolyser, which will be built in 2023. The hydrogen produced will be transported in a pipeline to Jos Scholman’s public fuelling station, where fuelling will be possible at a pressure of 350 bars for trucks and buses, and 700 bars for passenger cars. The haulage companies are not sitting around on the sidelines, and they are purchasing trucks and traction units. The first hydrogen-powered crane truck is a first! Hydrogen production follows demand and it will rise to 250 tonnes annually within a few years. The equivalent of the daily consumption of 750 passenger cars or 25 buses.

Transport hub in the centre of the country

Cutting carbon emissions, building 160,000 homes, preventing grid congestion and making air cleaner. These are no minor changes for Utrecht, explained Arne Schaddelee, a member of the provincial authority. Utrecht’s central location makes it a transport hub. Many travellers, large flows of commercial transport and large amounts of goods pass through the province by road and water. LIFE NEW HYTS is focusing in particular on making heavy transport more sustainable. That involves storing energy in batteries, which is still a major challenge. Hydrogen is not limited in that way; hydrogen can be refuelled. A hydrogen tank can be refilled within five minutes. Running heavy equipment and transport on green hydrogen is going to make a significant contribution to cutting carbon emissions. The LIFE NEW HYTS project involves annual savings of two million litres of diesel. With this project, Utrecht as a province can contribute to achieving 10% of the ambition for reducing carbon emissions in the national Climate Agreement. A consortium of training organisations in the transport sector, including Innovam, is organising the training for hydrogen vehicle engineers.

Think global, act local

LIFE NEW HYTS is a demonstration project and it will provide the provincial authority with valuable data about the use and costs of green hydrogen from Nieuwegein. It provides practical support for the accelerated introduction of green hydrogen in transport, and heavy transport in particular. In this project, the provincial authority of Utrecht will be extending Hydrogen Utrecht, the hydrogen covenant for the transport sector. More than 110 parties have now signed this agreement. There is also collaboration with the Bruges region in Belgium and North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany. A green tsunami from Nieuwegein through Europe, is how KWR’s Ron Bol sees it.

And nobody present had any doubts that a global market is opening up for hydrogen. The possible applications are enormous. And in the three northern provinces of the Netherlands, HyNorth is not hiding its enthusiasm for green hydrogen either. Sharing information and data, and collaboration, are essential elements. Bridges between the public and private sectors, and between practice and science. ‘Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you want to go international,’ promised Els de Wit, the programme coordinator for smart and sustainable mobility, Directorate General for Environment and International Affairs, at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. From local and regional to international seems to be the road ahead for more green hydrogen transport.