To get a glimpse of how fast the EU energy transition is taking place, cruise the Rotterdam port!  “Blessed” with 5 refineries (the largest concentration of refineries per sqkm in the world) and two coal plants, the “Maasvlakte” has been the fossil fuel theme park of Europe. On May 6  2019 the port of Rotterdam, together with the ports of Antwerp and North Sea Port (Vlissingen/Terneuzen NL) decided to take care of 10 mln tons CO2, or 17% of the Dutch total CO2 emissions. With a 10 km pipeline they will flush the CO2 to P18, a gasfield outside the Port of Rotterdam. The ports are stepping in where the power companies  Engie and Uniper, who operate the resp 800 and 1070 MW coal plants in the Rotterdam area, stepped out exactly 2 years ago in June 2017. At that time because of CO2 prices hoovering around €5,00 there was no business case for CCS.

With prices for CO2 now at €25,82 (May 10, 2019) we are nowhere near the €60,00 to cover  a 450 mln investment to put the 10mln ton CO2 underground, but at this point “only ” 250 mln public funding is needed. According to the lateste State of the Art on ETS study  of the European Round Table on Climate Change and Sustainable Transition “this might indicate that a change is happening, as for the first time the EU Emissions Allowance (EUA) price was above the switching price between coal and gas-fired plants, with the exception of highly efficient coal plants, for 100% of the year.”  However ERCST points out the KPI on the deployment of low-carbon technologies shows that “the EUA price is far from being able to support the mass deployment of new low-carbon technologies such as hydrogen, or CO2 usage”.

The three ports’ CO2TransPorts project, that will take care of the 10 mln tons, will work in parallel with the Porthos project that is trying to collect all CO2 emissions in the port of Rotterdam also from the chemical industry. The project is hoping to attract EU financing though if it would enter the list of the EU Projects of Common Interest, PCI,  that will be defined by November 2019.

The Rotterdan port area is currently host to a large Bleu Hydrogen project, H-vision, in which  sixteen parties, collaborate in a detailed study to explore the large-scale production and application of blue hydrogen in the Rotterdam industrial area. The objective is supply decarbonized energy by replacing natural gas and coal with blue hydrogen.  It is also studying how residual gases from the refining and chemical industry can be utilized to further enhance sustainability.

Blue hydrogen is obtained from natural gas or industrial residual gasses by splitting them into hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). The captured CO2 will be safely stored in empty gas fields in the North Sea or re-used as chemical building blocks.  The H-vision sees a Blue hydrogen infrastructure and installations  also as “future proof” for a hydrogen economy based on green hydrogen, obtained from water using solar and wind-energy driven electrolysis.  Potential CO2-emissions reductions of 2 megatons per annum in 2025, rising to 6 megatons per annum in 2030 are credibly expected.

H-vision participants are Deltalinqs, TNO, Air Liquide, BP, EBN, Engie, Equinor, Gasunie, GasTerra, Linde, OCI Nitrogen, Port of Rotterdam, Shell, TAQA, Uniper and Koninklijke Vopak. Together they represent the hydrogen value chain, from production to end-users.

Also IJmond and the port of  Amsterdam run a CCS project, Athos genaamd (like Porthos is Athos is one of the three  Musketiers) but in thiscase the CO” is reused in the chemical industry or in glass houses.