The Netherlands experienced, before the others, an energy crisis, with the anticipated end of the exploitation of the Groningen gas field, the largest in the European Union. The decision was taken by the government in 2014, then confirmed in 2018, due to the repeated earthquakes that shook the region, located in the north of the country.
Since then, production has been considerably reduced and was due to end in 2030. But at the request of the population, it could take place as early as 2023.
To support this transition and accelerate the decarbonisation of the economy, the Dutch authorities initially turned to the “all-electric”thanks to renewables, in particular by promoting the installation of heat pumps and by eliminating the obligation to connect new homes to gas.
After “all-gas”, the abandonment of “all-electric”
Faced with difficulties, the Netherlands began to backtrack. The network has, in fact, great difficulty in meeting the growing demand for electricity and renewable energies cannot be injected at certain times of the day, for lack of sufficient capacity to accommodate them.
The government has therefore decided to launch into green hydrogen, produced in particular by the gigantic wind farms which are being built in the North Sea. The Netherlands is counting on an installed capacity of 21 GW in 2030 and 70 GW in 2050. This green hydrogen will be used for industry to replace gray hydrogen, obtained from methane, but also in heavy mobility ( trucks, buses), where electrification is less relevant.
The Dutch are not the only ones to embark on this path, encouraged by the European Union through the granting of massive subsidies. France and Germany also have ambitious plans. But the Netherlands stands out by starting to convert homes to hydrogen.
Five municipalities are testing hydrogen for residential use
This is the option considered to be the most rational, in order to avoid congestion in the electricity system, in particular at the peak. It also allows continued use of the gas distribution network, which has been amortized for a long time and to which more than 90% of homes are connected.
Five experiments are underway and will serve as tests for large-scale deployment from 2026. In the village of Stad aan’t Haringvliet, about sixty kilometers from Rotterdam, a hydrogen-heated show house has thus installed. The inhabitants should be quite easily convinced to give up their gas boiler.
A new one, of the same size but running on hydrogen, will be provided to them free of charge by Stedin, the distributor, who has also committed to a guaranteed price for the molecule, for fifteen years, and which will be cheaper than that natural gas, if prices remain at the current level. Boiler manufacturers are also participating in the experiment.
A world first
From 2025, a hundred homes could then be supplied with hydrogen produced by electrolysis from wind farms and using the current natural gas pipelines. “It will be a world first, but everything is ready”, assures Tjebbe Vroon, who is piloting the project at Stedin.
Since 2013, the distributor has already conducted another successful experiment in Rozenburg, located in the same region. At the end of a housing estate, behind a fenced enclosure, two electrolyzers, housed in containers and which operate from photovoltaic panels, are connected to a 200-meter pipeline which supplies 24 homes, for approximately 20% of their needs.
“The Dutch show great pragmatism. They have understood that the resilience of their energy system requires a mix of solutions. Electricity, green gas from biomethane, but also hydrogen,” judge Thomas Muller, hydrogen director of GRDF, who follows these projects closely. The distribution network manager plans to launch similar experiments in France, as well as Germany and Great Britain.
Source : BBN WORLD NEWS