A geospatial exploration of hydrogen implementation in the Netherlands

The Dutch government wants to reduce the Netherlands’ greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent in 2050 compared to 1990. To reach this target, green hydrogen as an energy carrier has an important part to play. Hydrogen can contribute to solving challenges like decarbonizing industry and transportation, solving seasonal imbalances, and heating the built environment.

To help local actors to strategize, plan investments, and assess their current base with respect to these challenges, understanding the geospatial development of green hydrogen supply and demand is crucial. 

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The development of an interactive heat map provided insights that can be used in feasibility studies for capital investments. For the future situation in 2050, 4 key takeaways for the implementation of a hydrogen economy are identified:

  1. Producing hydrogen offshore is favored over onshore production for transport distances greater than 30 kilometers 
    For cost optimization, choosing between onshore and offshore electrolyzer locations is mostly dependent on the capital investment costs needed for offshore hydrogen production and transport infrastructure. Offshore electrolyzers have higher capital costs compared to onshore. However, transporting hydrogen is more cost-efficient than electricity transport over large distances.

    In the most likely cost scenario—offshore hydrogen production is 1.25 times more expensive than onshore hydrogen production—if an offshore wind or solar park is located at a distance of more than approximately 30 kilometers from shore, hydrogen production at sea is the most feasible option. 

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  2. Hydrogen clusters will develop at industrial locations with close connections to offshore wind farms
    The hydrogen economy is in its infancy and significant investments are required to develop this market. Currently, there's no hydrogen infrastructure in place and choices need to be made on where to invest.

    Critical dependencies to make choices on infrastructure development are the locations of electrolyzers, demand clusters, and potential reuse of existing gas infrastructure. Hydrogen clusters will be developed in industrial areas connected to (future) offshore wind and solar farms, such as the Port of Rotterdam and Groningen.
  3. Import is required to meet national hydrogen demand in 2050
    Industry (high-heat and feedstock) and transportation (personal and heavy-duty) cover the biggest share of hydrogen demand in the Netherlands. At most, 20 percent of electricity from renewable sources could be dedicated to the production of hydrogen by 2050 (see Sankey diagram shown below). This means that 273 PJ of hydrogen still has to be imported if both sectors are supplied with hydrogen.

    Currently, (grey) hydrogen is already used in industry as this sector already has challenges in decarbonization. Moreover, limited adaptations are required to involve green hydrogen in this sector. Therefore, it's important to prioritize industry over mobility when talking about green hydrogen supply.

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  4. A hydrogen backbone is essential to enable the full hydrogen potential of all Dutch regions
    Northern regions manage to meet their demand with surpluses while western and southern regions are in need of imports. For instance, there's a substantial difference between Groningen and Zuid-Limburg. Depending on the scenario, Groningen has a hydrogen surplus of 30 to 100 PJ, and Zuid-Limburg has a shortage in the range of 10 to 50 PJ.

    Not surprisingly, Groningen has a large renewable energy availability while Zuid-Limburg has a large hydrogen-demanding industry cluster. The transportation of hydrogen via a backbone enables us to handle hydrogen surpluses and shortages and may decrease imbalances on the electrical grid. 
Next Steps

The current interactive heat map gives us insights that can be used in feasibility studies for capital investments. The following improvements will lead to increased insights into the evolution of the hydrogen economy in the Netherlands:

  • Integration with relevant data sources to provide decision-makers with the latest insights. Over time, projections on supply, demand, and costs of hydrogen will change. In addition, supply and demand data for blue hydrogen needs to be added. Automatically updating the mapping tool as new data is available, gives users new insights into the development of the hydrogen economy. 
  • Increased granularity in timescale resulting in better market insights. Adding a more granular timescale to the mapping tool enables users to gain more specific insights by analyzing how hydrogen clusters develop over time.
  • Improved models lead to more accurate predictions. Suggestions for further model improvements are, for example, the optimization of electrolyzer locations, development of blue hydrogen, and development of heating in the built environment.

Developing the hydrogen heat map will enable decision-makers to foster the implementation of hydrogen technology in the Netherlands and contribute to establishing a Dutch hydrogen economy. 

The development of the hydrogen heatmap was part of a collaboration between the below students from the TU Delft, Wageningen UR, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solution (AMS), and Accenture.  

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Do you want to know more about the hydrogen heatmap? Please contact Lonneke, Amber, Bas, or Bart of Accenture's Dutch Energy Transition Services – Hydrogen team.

Amber de Weijer

Industry Consultant Utilities the Netherlands


Lonneke Tabak

Industry Consulting Manager – Utilities, The Netherlands


Bas Fikkert

Management Consultant

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