Cabinet: Gasunie converts gas network for wind energy hydrogen

The government wants Gasunie to convert the existing gas pipeline network into a hydrogen network. Hydrogen is a gas that can be converted to electricity without CO2 emissions. It is intended to initially make the heavy industry more sustainable production.

VVD State Secretary Yesilgöz for Economic Affairs, responsible for climate policy, says that this step is needed to preserve the industry in the Netherlands while meeting climate goals. Employment in large industrial enterprises is maintained in this way.

“The gas pipeline system we have in our country is unique. It‘s a fine-mesh system that we can convert for hydrogen,” says the Secretary of State. “It would be a shame not to use those gas lines.” It refers to the transition from gas to renewable energy, which would make the gas pipeline network unnecessary in the long run.

Gasunie speaks of a historic decision. “It is important for us to transport this new energy but it’s even more important for society,” says Han Fennema of Gasunie. “We can transport energy that helps us to realise climate ambitions in the Netherlands, Europe and the world.”

Approximately 85 percent of existing pipes can be reused for hydrogen.

“Secure and Affordable”

In this first step, the government chooses Gasunie pipeline manager because the company has a lot of knowledge and experience and can handle the conversion of the existing network. This makes it safe and affordable, says Yesilgöz. Other market participants will not be excluded in the long term. “Companies that are currently working on fossil fuels are seeing something‘s going to change.”

GroenLinks agrees with the cabinet. “We have the advantage of an existing gas network and the North Sea for wind farms,” says MP Van der Lee. “Hydrogen is made by running electricity through water. That electricity needs to be generated clean. Other European countries invest billions more in that.”

From offshore wind farms to green hydrogen production, to transport via the existing piping network:

At the moment, there is very little green hydrogen. That’s hydrogen made from wind and solar energy. For the time being, there is mainly grey hydrogen made from natural gas. Yesilgöz: “But we must start rebuilding the piping network now. In the long run, more wind farms will have to come to sea to make green hydrogen.”

GroenLinks wants the Netherlands to distribute hydrogen over the converted pipeline network generated by solar energy. “Hydrogen becomes a global market,” says Van der Lee. “Solar power plants in southern Europe, Africa and Australia, for example, are going to make green hydrogen production possible there. We can import that hydrogen and transfer it through the port of Rotterdam and the piping network.”

The cabinet is demissionary and needs to operate cautiously. At the same time, a next cabinet cannot be backwarded because the Netherlands is compliant with climate agreements. The so-called hydrogen coalition, including energy companies, industry and environmental organisations, therefore called on the government to take rapid action in March.