Port of Rotterdam Sees Potential to Import Green Hydrogen from Iceland

Geothermal power station, Iceland (Gretar Ivarsson / public domain)

Published Jun 24, 2021 8:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

Iceland's national electrical utility, Landsvirkjun, has partnered with the Port of Rotterdam to study the manufacture and export of green hydrogen from the energy-rich island nation to customers in Northern Europe. The early results suggest that the project could be technically feasible, financially viable and environmentally beneficial, the partners say.

The two companies mapped the components of the chain from renewable power generation and hydrogen production in Iceland and then shipping to the port of Rotterdam. They evaluated multiple hydrogen carriers (hydrogen-containing compounds) taking into account energy density, costs, demand and other factors.

The study found that an initial green hydrogen export project could be completed in the second half of this decade and could be scaled in the range of 200 to 500 MW of electrical power capacity. In the longer term, the potential CO2 reduction achieved by using the project's output could be in the range of millions of tons. 

The energy supply would be a combination of renewable generation sources, including hydropower, geothermal and wind. The availability of multiple "green" power sources is a unique advantage for Iceland, and the partners say that it would lead to a competitive price for Icelandic hydrogen on the European market. The hydrogen would be produced through electrolysis and then either liquified or converted into a carrier for transport to Rotterdam, where it would be recovered for use at the port or in the hinterland.

The port of Rotterdam is Europe's largest port and energy hub, and it aims to become Europe's largest hydrogen import hub in the decades ahead. On a request from the Dutch government, the Port of Rotterdam Authority has identified high potential sources of imported hydrogen to meet Europe’s future demand, and Iceland was one of the strong contenders.

"We are very excited by the results of the study as well by the good chemistry between our two companies," said Allard Castelein, CEO Port of Rotterdam Authority. "Iceland always has been a frontrunner in renewable power production. This new green energy for Europe, distributed via Rotterdam’s terminals and hydrogen backbone, could further help decarbonize our industrial complex and our customers elsewhere in Europe."

The port has launched multiple hydrogen-related initiatives, both on its facilities and abroad. It is working with the German energy company Uniper on a plan to produce green hydrogen at its Maasvlakte port complex; it is exploring a hydrogen supply chain for German steelmakers Thyssenkrupp and HKM; it is a member of a global hydrogen value chain study consortium; it has helped launch a large-scale hydrogen-powered trucking initiative for Northern Europe; and it is supporting a project to facilitate hydrogen-powered inland shipping on the Rhine-Alpine corridor.