The industrial hydrogen ecosystem in the northern Netherlands is getting a major boost, building on the foundation of Europe’s first Hydrogen Valley. That is what the WAviatER project: WAterstofproductiechnologie voor de Aviation sector en Energietoepassingen op Regionaal niveau (WAviatER: Hydrogen Production Technology for the Aviation Sector and Energy Applications at Regional Level) will ensure. The North Netherlands Cooperation Agency has awarded a grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). In the project, a Northern Dutch consortium will develop green hydrogen technology. Consortium partners are Douna Machinery Leeuwarden, JB Besturingstechniek, REDStack, Demcon, Groningen Airport Eelde, New Energy Coalition and Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, supported by TNO and VONK.
The first concrete application is at Groningen Airport Eelde, the ‘Hydrogen Valley Airport’. There, an electrolyzer to be developed will produce green hydrogen as an emission-free energy carrier for light aircraft, drones and ground equipment.
The northern Netherlands is recognised as an important centre for hydrogen technology development by Europe, which declared the region a Hydrogen Valley. Within the region, Groningen Airport Eelde is taking various initiatives in the field of airport and aviation sustainability. This includes the Hydrogen Valley Airport project of Groningen Airport Eelde, New Energy Coalition, University of Groningen and other parties, in addition to the existing 22MW solar park. The WAviatER project is now giving concrete form to Hydrogen Valley Airport.
The production of ‘green’ hydrogen is done in a so-called electrolyzer, which uses green electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. This process is currently not yet competitive on a small scale with large-scale, natural gas-based production of ‘grey’ hydrogen. For decentralised applications, there is a need for small- to medium-scale electrolyzers that produce green hydrogen at acceptable cost. In addition, it is important that the electrolyzers themselves are sustainable and, for example, do not depend on the use of scarce and valuable metals used in certain types of electrolyzers. WAviatER’s consortium will therefore develop a scalable and sustainable electrolyzer for the airport. This should be cheaper to purchase compared to current alternatives, have a higher efficiency, not require scarce and valuable metals, and also be capable of automated serial production.
About the partners
Through a high-quality range of facilities and with a market-oriented approach, Groningen Airport Eelde wants to be the airport of first choice for holidaymakers and the business community in the North. Under the name NXT Airport, Groningen Airport Eelde works with partners on aviation innovation, sustainability and education.
- Demcon develops, produces and supplies technology and innovative products that contribute to solving complex technological and societal issues. The Demcon group has several locations in the Netherlands, including Groningen, as well as in Germany, Japan and Singapore.
- New Energy Coalition is a continuously growing network of knowledge institutions, companies, governments and NGOs working together in the Northern Netherlands to accelerate the energy transition for a sustainable future. New Energy Coalition is the architect of the HEAVENN project, making the Northern Netherlands the first Hydrogen Valley in Europe.
- Rijksuniversiteit Groningen is an internationally oriented university that is also strongly rooted in the region. The university has the expertise and ambition to play a crucial role in developing the northern Netherlands into a hub for green hydrogen production.
- Douna Machinery Leeuwarden (connecting green technologies) has been taking care of customers in all areas of the technical innovation process for 98 years. This includes conceiving, designing, manufacturing, supplying and servicing mechanical engineering installations. With this expertise, Douna Machinery has accumulated a great deal of knowledge and experience that it deploys to accelerate the green energy transition.
- JB Besturingstechniek in Oosterwolde is an internationally oriented family business with an open culture and self-managing teams. With around forty employees, most of whom have higher vocational or university education, the company specialises in industrial automation solutions that it commissions all over the world. JB Besturingstechniek values long-term relationships with clients, employees and suppliers.
- REDstack in Sneek is a specialist in renewable energy generation using a membrane process. This involves the controlled mixing of salt and fresh water in so-called stacks to generate electrical energy.
The consortium also has two external partners:
- TNO contributes fundamental knowledge in the field of energy transition and hydrogen strategy.
- Vonk, in Zwolle and Meppel, supplies power electronics expertise and inverter systems needed to power the electrolyser.