The interconnection will serve a cross-border hydrogen cluster around North Sea Port, which currently consumes around 580,000 mt/yr.

By Callum Cyrus

Plans for a combined hydrogen network across the Netherlands and Belgium have been unveiled by the countries' respective gas infrastructure operators, Fluxys and Gasunie, the former company said May 17.

The hydrogen grids will bind up at a specific border point in the port zone of North Sea Port, which spans coastal industries from Vlissingen and Terneuzen in the Netherlands to Ghent in Belgium.  A hydrogen pipeline to the border point should be operational by 2026.

North Sea Port hosts the largest hydrogen hub in the Benelux region. Companies here produce and consume around 580,000 metric tons of the fuel every year.

Demand around the port zone is expected to double by 2050. By that stage, hydrogen supply chains must be fully sustainable, to meet EU environmental objectives

Fluxys says the connection will create one of Europe's first cross-border, open-access hydrogen networks. Existing infrastructure will be used as the two hydrogen networks will dovetail at the towns of Sas van Gent and Zelzate, where there is already a Dutch-Belgian natural gas interchange. 

The operating consortium believes pursuing the same route will lower the environmental harms associated with the project.

Helmie Botter, manager for hydrogen business development at Gasunie, said: "Gasunie is fully committed to developing a national hydrogen network. Connections to neighbouring countries are crucially important in this regard. This will allow the hydrogen market to really grow and work to improve security of supply in northwestern Europe."

Daan Schalck, CEO of North Sea Port, added: "This new cross-border hydrogen infrastructure is an extra asset with regard to additional sustainable and circular industry setting up shop in the port area. 

"Numerous hydrogen production and storage projects are in progress or in the pipeline. Linking two national networks in the port zone is in line with our ambition to grow as a port into a hydrogen hub on a European scale."