NautaDutilh's Benelux Hydrogen team has recently attended two leading events with full focus on hydrogen. The first event was the World Hydrogen Summit & Exhibition in Rotterdam, and the second event was the Reuters Events Hydrogen 2022 in Amsterdam. Both events aimed at providing global platforms dedicated to advance the hydrogen industry by bringing together government and private sector leaders to collaborate and do business.
The relevance for these gatherings in which hydrogen is a central topic is apparent, as Europe already passed 'overshoot day'. This day marks the date when humanity's demand for ecological resources in a given year exceeds what the earth can regenerate in that same year. As the potential of hydrogen is clear to help to tackle this and enhance the energy transition, the overall agreement at the events was that the energy transition with hydrogen forms both a challenge and an opportunity. This energy-carrying alternative to natural gas may not be the holy grail for the transition of the energy system as whole, but at the conferences it was generally agreed to be key in making the transition to a clean and low-carbon energy system work.
Hydrogen is the 'Swiss Army Knife' of the energy transition" - Paul Bogers (Vice President Hydrogen, Shell)
Alongside the Port of Rotterdam – as one of the hosts of the World Hydrogen Summit – and longstanding multinationals like Royal Vopak, ExxonMobil, BP, Aramco, Uniper, Linde and Air Products, numerous promising startups focusing on hydrogen production, transportation and utilisation technologies were omnipresent at the Summit. In Amsterdam, representatives of, amongst others, General Electric, Bosal and Howden unveiled the latest technological developments and projects. As the head of Green Hydrogen of Thyssenkrupp emphasised at the Reuters event: "There is a real tsunami of hydrogen opportunities coming up worldwide. We have never seen such a wave of projects over the last 10-20 years".
Another topic at both events was the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the accelerator it forms to move away from fossil fuels in Europe, as the oil and gas prices have soared tremendously. Europe took the momentum to accelerate its hydrogen strategy in the recently adopted REPowerEU plan: a strategy to rapidly reduce dependence on Russian fossil fuels and fast-forward the green transition. Frans Timmermans, one of the keynote speakers in Rotterdam, suggested that the Mediterranean and Northern African countries with their huge potential for solar and wind energy being a source for hydrogen, may get a more central role in the European economy after centuries. The potential of green hydrogen in Africa was echoed at the conference in Amsterdam.
Hydrogen forms an essential part in Europe's energy sovereignty - Frans Timmermans (Vice President European Commission)
The Netherlands, the most intensive hydrogen user in the world if you look at hydrogen consumption per capita according to Bert den Ouden, Project Director of the “HyXchange" initiative, does not hesitate to jump on this hydrogen high-speed train. At the World Hydrogen Summit, the Dutch government announced that it is preparing a hydrogen roadmap, which is expected to be released by September 2022. It is clear that both the ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam are keen to play a key position therein. The Port of Amsterdam, being the largest petroleum port in the world, has far-reaching plans to develop a European hydrogen hub. The Port of Rotterdam plans to connect its own heavy industry and the chemical industry in the South of the Netherlands, as well as the German Rhineland Region, through the so-called 'Delta Corridor' for hydrogen transportation. The ports of Delfzijl, Vlissingen, and Antwerp are ready to play a part as well. Governmental coordination is therefore key. This is also the central item that NautaDutilh advocated in its submission to the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. Click here to read our reaction to the consultation towards the regulation of the hydrogen market (in Dutch only).
"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together" - Famous African proverb (echoed at both conferences)
In our next update, we will delve deeper into "Five things you need to know about hydrogen".