The Hydrogen Stream: EU launches call for low-carbon hydrogen tech, Netherlands unveils €338m plan


The European Commission has launched a call for all 1,000-plus members of the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance to submit projects for low-carbon hydrogen technology and solutions. The call ends on May 7. The EU Hydrogen Strategy aims to install 6 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolyzers by 2024, and 40 GW by 2030. “This call is an important step forward in the work of the alliance. It will help build the project pipeline and assess and address gaps and bottlenecks in the clean hydrogen value chain,” commissioner for the internal market Thierry Breton stated.

The Netherlands has announced €1.35 billion of investment through its National Growth Fund, almost a fourth of which (around €338 million) will be used to scale up hydrogen projects. “The public investments must create a powerful and flexible hydrogen ecosystem that forms the basis for the upscaling of hydrogen and electrochemistry,” the Dutch government said in a statememt. “Industrial clusters where there are opportunities for this are [in the] north Netherlands, Amsterdam, Rotterdam/Moerdijk, Zeeland, Arnhem, Brainport Eindhoven, and Limburg (Chemelot).”

Ademe, the French environment and energy management agency, has announced that 32 developers applied for the second phase of the call for hydrogen projects that closed on March 16. According to the French Ministry for Ecological Transition, the majority of French regions are involved in the process, showing a growth in interest. Most of the projects concern heavy mobility usages. “The results of the calls for projects are encouraging: Players and regions are seizing this opportunity to develop a sector of the future,” said minister Barbara Pompili. “France has all the keys to become a European leader in green hydrogen.” The tender's first phase, which closed in December, led to the pre-selection of seven winning projects for a €45 million investment.

French tire manufacturing company Michelin said it is seeking to become a world leader in hydrogen fuel cell systems through Symbio, its joint venture with French car-parts maker Faurecia. During the presentation of its 2030 sustainability strategy, Michelin revealed it expects to generate 20-30% of sales from non-tire-related businesses by the end of the decade. Chief executive officer Florent Menegaux explained that the company will resort to internal financial resources and M&A operations. Symbio has targeted a 12% share of the global fuel-cell market by 2030.

Iberdrola subsidiary ScottishPower has applied to build a green hydrogen plant, which it will develop alongside its 539 MW Whitelee wind farm in the United Kingdom. Iberdrola explained, in a statement, that the hydrogen plant will include the U.K.'s largest electrolyzer (20 MW), a hybrid solar energy system that will power the electrolyzer and a battery storage system with a maximum capacity of 50 MW. The initiative will be able to produce up to eight tons of green hydrogen per day.

Norwegian state-owned energy company Equinor and U.K.-based thermal power generation company SSE Thermal have unveiled plans to jointly develop low-carbon power stations in the Humber region, “comprising one of the U.K.’s first power stations with carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, and the world’s first 100% hydrogen-fueled power station.” Equinor said that final investment decisions will depend on the progress of policy frameworks.

Linde Engineering, a subsidiary of the British multinational chemical company Linde, has won the tender to design and build an integrated hydrogen fueling station and electrolysis plant for AGR, in Herten, Germany. “The project, comprising hydrogen production and high-performance fueling technology, is receiving funding of up to €6.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in the framework of the National Innovation Program Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP),” read a press release. The project includes proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers, compressors, storage tanks, and fueling stations.

German energy provider EWE has completed the first step of an experimental project meant to test whether green hydrogen can be stored in underground caves. “This would make green hydrogen, generated from renewable energy, storable in large quantities and usable on demand, and would become an indispensable component for achieving set climate targets,” EWE’s Paul Schneider said. The company has so far installed and cemented 160 steel pipes 1,000m deep into the ground.

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The heavy-duty vehicle market could accelerate fuel cell technology, the U.S.-based Million Mile Fuel Cell Truck (M2FCT), a Department of Energy (DOE)-funded consortium, said in an article published in Nature Energy at the end of March. “This will encourage building the needed hydrogen refueling infrastructure with less infrastructure investment, since trucks travel predictable routes,” said M2FCT co-director Rod Borup. Berkeley Lab scientist Ahmet Kusoglu added that heavy-duty vehicles make up a small fraction of the vehicle fleet in the U.S. but contribute to 23% of transportation emissions of greenhouse gases in the U.S.

A study led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has suggested new strategies to design perovskite materials to speed up the oxygen evolution reaction (OER), a process that frees up molecular oxygen from water and is key for hydrogen production. Perovskite oxides are an alternative to expensive precious metals but are not as efficient at accelerating the OER. Moreover, they tend to slowly degrade. “The study found that the perovskite oxide’s surface evolved into a cobalt-rich amorphous film just a few nanometers thick. When iron was present in the electrolyte, the iron helped accelerate the OER while the cobalt-rich film had a stabilizing effect on the iron, keeping it active at the surface,” said the study, suggesting that traces of iron can improve the OER on amorphous oxide surfaces.

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, Seamus O’Regan, has announced the hydrogen strategy implementation strategic steering committee, which will advance and measure the progress outlined in the Hydrogen Strategy for Canada launched in December 2020. “The committee, co-chaired by Natural Resources Canada and the Canadian Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, is composed of senior leaders from across industry, provincial and territorial partners, non-government organizations and indigenous partner[s],” read a note.

American rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer Aerojet Rocketdyne has announced its RS-68A hydrogen-fueled rocket engine has completed its final hot-fire acceptance test for use on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle on the B-1 test stand at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. “We’ve continued to improve the RS-68 engine, which today remains the most powerful hydrogen-fueled rocket engine in the world,” said Jim Maser, Aerojet Rocketdyne senior vice president of space. “This engine was developed entirely with company funds to be a very cost competitive and extremely reliable booster engine.”

Engineering consultancy Rina is working to certify the compatibility of Italian gas TSO Snam’s existing 33,000 kilometers of gas lines with hydrogen transportation. “For Italy, this is a great opportunity, since it has the most extensive gas infrastructure in Europe … The joint activities also include laboratory tests, which have been successful so far, and we will continue with further complex tests at high pressures,” commented Ugo Salerno, Rina’s CEO.

FIA, the governing body for many auto racing events including Formula One, has reportedly said that it will soon unveil its hydrogen plans. “It's a very interesting development of technology … Many are working on it and the FIA will give its contribution. We are doing a lot of tests in our laboratories and will soon make an announcement concerning hydrogen,” said its president Jean Todt in Rome at the weekend, as reported by Jonathan Noble for trade publication Autosport.

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