Hydrogen: an indispensable part of a sustainable economy

Climate-neutral hydrogen is an indispensable link in the future supply of energy and feedstocks. However, a market for climate-neutral hydrogen will not simply materialise automatically. It requires the government to build infrastructure, finance new technology and stimulate demand for hydrogen with targeted measures. These are the conclusions of the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure in its advisory report 'Hydrogen, the missing link'. Sandor Gaastra, Director-General of Climate and Energy, accepted the advisory report today on behalf of the Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, Bas van 't Wout.

Climate-neutral hydrogen essential in future energy and feedstock supply

Hydrogen's molecular structure makes it very useful as a feedstock for manufacturing materials and products that are currently still made from oil, natural gas and coal. Moreover, although the use of renewable electricity will increase significantly in future, electricity will not be able to meet all energy needs. A vital part of that energy demand in Northwest Europe will have to be met by hydrogen, because it can be transported more efficiently than electricity and because there will be periods when not enough electricity is being generated from wind and sun. It is therefore essential to continue to develop the production and use of hydrogen. This must be done without producing carbon emissions (climate-neutral). In the longer term, climate-neutral hydrogen will be produced on a large scale from green electricity, but during the transition period it will also be necessary to produce hydrogen from natural gas, after which the carbon emissions from the process will be stored underground.

Demand for climate-neutral hydrogen to be actively stimulated

At present, the production and use of climate-neutral hydrogen is totally inadequate. The infrastructure needed for transport, distribution and storage is not yet ready and climate-neutral hydrogen is more expensive than hydrogen produced from natural gas. Investing in infrastructure and stimulating demand for climate-neutral hydrogen is therefore a priority. The best way to stimulate demand is to impose a significant additional price on current carbon emissions in the Netherlands. However, as the international competitive position does not allow this at present, other instruments are needed for the time being, such as blending requirements and tax incentives. The Council advises the government to work closely with the EU and neighbouring countries to rapidly improve the economic conditions for a climate-neutral hydrogen market.

The Netherlands has a head start

The Netherlands already has a gas transport and distribution network that can be used for hydrogen, as well as good facilities for carbon capture and storage. Moreover, the Netherlands has relevant knowledge and experience, while Dutch industry is also well placed to make the transition to climate-neutral hydrogen. The Netherlands being in a leading position in the international hydrogen market could in time lead to economic benefits. Technology that contributes to this future earning potential should therefore, in the Council's view, receive financial support from the Dutch government. This includes carbon capture and storage technology, hydrogen storage technology and the production of hydrogen-based fuels.

Note for editors

To request interviews, please contact communications advisor Miep Eisner, miep.eisner@rli.nl, +31 (0)6 15369339.

For information on the contents of the advisory report, please contact the project leader Folmer Wiard de Haan, f.w.dehaan@rli.nl, +31 (0)6 46152496.

Starting on 25 January 2021 the advisory report is available for download from www.rli.nl

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About the Rli

The Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli) is an independent advisory board for the Dutch government and parliament. It provides solicited and unsolicited advice on overall policy pertaining to the sustainable development of the human environment and the physical infrastructure. In particular, the Council addresses strategic public issues relating to spatial planning and the economy, housing, the environment, food and raw materials, nature, agriculture, mobility and safety. Chairman is J.J. de Graeff. www.rli.nl