Hydrogen production as an antidote to grid constraints in northern Netherlands

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From pv magazine global.

Dutch transmission system operator Enexis, natural gas infrastructure company Gasunie and oil firm Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij BV (NAM) are considering using excess solar power generation capacity in the northeastern Netherlands for hydrogen production.

The companies said a feasibility study is being conducted to consider hydrogen production at sites owned by NAM – a JV formed by Shell and ExxonMobil – in Emmen and Roswinkel, in Drenthe. The province, along with Groningen and Overijssel, suffers from limited grid capacity for new renewables projects.

Green hydrogen facilities should be coupled with reinforcement of the on-site grid to enable further local clean energy generation, said Enexis.

Gas pipelines

“The research is examining the conditions under which it is feasible to directly convert locally generated sustainable energy into hydrogen,” said the transmission system operator. “And whether that energy can be transported via existing gas pipelines to customers so that this green energy still contributes to the energy transition.”

Enexis said Gasunie and NAM are planning to make their energy supply more sustainable by building a clean energy hub at a former gas treatment plant in Groningen. “Options for the transport of hydrogen via existing or new gas lines to consumers in Emmen are also part of this study,” Enexis added.

The study, which is being conducted by local consultancy DNV-GL, is also assessing which large scale solar and wind power projects in the affected regions may have been locked out of a grid connection. “In Drenthe this concerns various projects, some of which are close to existing NAM locations,” said Enexis, which added, the NAM Roswinkel site on the German border is near several renewables projects facing grid access restrictions.

Electrolyzer

The study is considering scenarios including connecting an electrolyzer to the grid or directly to the sources of solar and wind power using a “smart combination”. The electrolyzer envisaged would have a 20-50 MW capacity, according to Enexis.

The results of the study will be revealed by the partner companies by mid-January.

Enexis and fellow Dutch transmission system operator TenneT in January announced limited capacity was available for renewables projects after several solar facilities entered the development pipeline. At the time, the two operators said a solution to grid constraints was urgently needed as high volumes of solar generation capacity were expected to be deployed in the Netherlands.

Late last month three Dutch business groups, including Holland Solar, said around 700 MW of solar and wind projects allocated incentives under the SDE+ program could lose payments due to missed connection deadlines. Last week the Dutch government said the autumn round of this year’s SDE+ program had for the first time included a ‘transportindicatie’ – a transport indication – removing eligibility for subsidies in regions which suffer constraints on grid access.