Hydrogen, the all-rounder for a climate-neutral economy
We are in the midst of an energy transition. The way we generate, transport and use energy will soon look completely different. Through our extensive and reliable network of pipelines, we bring hydrogen (H2) to industrial companies.
We want to offer the first hydrogen transport capacity by 2026, which is how we will help build, with our full conviction and commitment, a climate-neutral economy and society.
What is hydrogen?
Hydrogen is a molecule whose chemical formula is H2. It is the most common chemical element on earth and throughout the universe. There is more than enough of it, although the molecule is not found by itself in nature. Energy can be used to split hydrogen off from other molecules, such as water (H2O) and natural gas (CH4). Hydrogen is not an energy source, but rather an energy carrier, in other words a substance in which energy is stored. That energy is released during combustion.
The properties and colours of hydrogen
While hydrogen itself is an odourless and colourless gas, we nevertheless use different colours to indicate how the hydrogen was produced and whether or not any CO2 greenhouse gas was released during the production process.
Hydrogen can be made in various ways, including through electrolysis, a process whereby an electric current is passed through water, which then breaks down into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2). If electrolysis is done with renewable electricity (solar or wind), then no greenhouse gases are released and we call the result green hydrogen.
If the electrolysis is done with electricity from nuclear power plants, we call it pink or purple hydrogen.
Then there is grey hydrogen, which is not produced with water but with natural gas. However, cracking natural gas releases CO2 as well as hydrogen. If we capture that CO2 for storage or reuse, we prevent the greenhouse gas from entering the atmosphere. The result is called blue hydrogen.
Towards a climate-neutral economyFossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas have created enormous prosperity, but burning them releases huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. An energy transition is essential if we are to stop global warming and climate change.
We will replace fossil fuels with energy sources that do not produce greenhouse gases, such as solar and wind power. Electrification of, among other things, cars and heat pumps with renewable energy will play a crucial role here.
But electrification alone will not get us there.
Why is hydrogen necessary?
Renewable energy, such as sun and wind, is not available in unlimited quantities. As the European Commission's projections for 2050 show, a net-zero energy system is likely to be built on carbon-neutral electricity and carbon-neutral molecules such as hydrogen, biomethane, synthetic methane and biofuels.
As companies seek to strike a balance between security of supply, climate impact and cost price, hydrogen often emerges as the best option. In addition, there are industrial processes for which electrification is not an option. For example, the cement and steel industries use coal and natural gas to heat blast furnaces. This is not possible with electricity, but it is possible with hydrogen. This makes hydrogen an important link on the path towards a climate-neutral economy.
Diversity is the key to the energy future – both green electricity and carbon-neutral molecules in their various forms. This means electrification with green power where possible and clean molecules where this is more appropriate, taking into account cost, security of supply and the reduction of CO2 emissions.
How does hydrogen reduce industry’s CO2 emissions?
CO2 emissions must be drastically reduced, including in industry. Fortunately, there are solutions. Hydrogen has clear potential for enabling industrial companies to transform production processes and make them climate-neutral.
Towards climate-neutral industry
For such a small country, Belgium has a large industrial sector. Many large industrial players are active here and create local employment and prosperity. At the same time, industry is responsible for 40% of Belgium's CO2 emissions, which is why companies are launching all kinds of initiatives and innovations to reduce their emissions. These efforts include upgrading machinery and equipment, optimising production processes, insulating buildings and so on. These investments have a positive impact on the climate and on companies’ expenditure: their energy bills will go down and fewer emissions will also mean they spend less money on emission rights per million tonnes of CO2 emitted.
The inevitable (process-related) CO2 still emitted by heavy industry will be captured and stored or reused. This is how companies reduce CO2 emissions on a large scale.
Europe all in on the hydrogen economy
With Fit For 55, the European Commission is working towards 55% CO2 reduction in all 27 Member States by 2030. And with the European Green Deal, the goal is to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
How will we do that? Hydrogen plays a key role in the European roadmap for achieving both goals. The European strategy aims to build an entire ecosystem around hydrogen, so that industry can adapt accordingly, the EU can hit its climate targets and Europe's energy security can be enhanced.
Major steps forward in research and innovation
The energy transition is in full swing; we don't have time to sit back and relax. Today, hydrogen from natural gas is still cheaper than CO2-neutral hydrogen. Studies by the International Energy Agency show that the price of clean hydrogen can fall quickly and sharply.
Solar and wind power are getting cheaper all the time. Companies and governments worldwide are investing millions in research and infrastructure to rapidly expand the hydrogen economy. In addition, CO2 emissions are growing more expensive year after year via the European Union's Emissions Trading System. For industrial companies, the bill for emission allowances can amount to billions of euros per year. All this makes it economically interesting to jump on the hydrogen train.
At Fluxys we are not standing still either. How do we get hydrogen from the producer to the consumer? How do we future-proof our existing network by enabling to transport this molecule? We are helping build the hydrogen economy. By 2026, our first pipelines will be ready to transport hydrogen. This is the first step in our aim of establishing connections between industrial zones as well as implementing connections with neighbouring countries.
How will we help companies transition to hydrogen?
Many industries are looking at the potential of hydrogen and CO2 capture for reducing their emissions. To make these developments possible, we at Fluxys are working hard to future-proof our network of pipelines.
Our ambition can be expressed in three numbers: 30x30x30
By 2030, we want to offer enough capacity to transport 30 TWh of hydrogen, an amount of energy that represents more than one third of total electricity consumption in Belgium.
By 2030, we also want to offer enough capacity to transport 30 million tonnes of CO2 annually, the equivalent of removing 13 million cars from the road every year. By way of comparison, there are 5.9 million passenger cars on the road in Belgium.
Infrastructure for energy transport: a genuine underground movement
We are engaging with industry to adapt our existing infrastructure in a timely manner and to build new pipelines where necessary. To enable and accelerate companies’ energy transition, we aim to develop hydrogen and CO2 pipelines for and between industry in Flanders and Wallonia.
Today, we already have a highly meshed network of natural gas pipelines. This is evolving into a network that will also transport CO₂ and hydrogen, which is how we will make Belgium an import and transit country in Europe for molecules such as CO2 and hydrogen. Our existing terminal in Zeebrugge and the future terminals in Ghent and Antwerp will play a key role in achieving this ambition of becoming an import hub for hydrogen and an export point for CO2.
Neighbouring countries are also in the process of building hydrogen infrastructure. In this move, our Belgian network dovetails with a large European backbone that is needed in order to enhance energy independence. And from an international perspective, we are laying the foundation for sustainably consolidating and strengthening our role as an energy hub in the centre of Northwest Europe.
Our terminals as European game-changers
Zeebrugge, one of the most important LNG ports in Europe, will be modified so that the terminal is ready to transport and store hydrogen and derivatives such as ammonia, methanol and synthetic natural gas. In Antwerp, we are helping to develop an import terminal for ammonia. But that’s not all.
In Europe, there is not enough wind and solar power to supply the entire industrial sector with green energy. To obtain a reliable and affordable energy system, we import hydrogen via ships from countries where solar and wind power are abundantly available. Special loading arms pump the hydrogen ashore, after which it is stored or transported to industrial customers via pipelines.
Via the existing terminal in Zeebrugge and future terminals in Ghent and Antwerp, CO2 that companies capture can be transported and stored safely, for example in empty gas fields under the North Sea. Accordingly, these terminals will play a key role in making Belgium an import and transit country for molecules such as hydrogen and CO2.
What is your company's hydrogen potential?
You want to drastically reduce your company's emissions. Or even better, you want to prepare your company for a climate-neutral future. This is not only good for the climate, but also for your company's future vision.
But how do you make that happen? Our experts will be happy to advise you on how to enable and accelerate the energy transition for your company. Discover what we can offer below.
Express your interest in hydrogen for your business
We are curious about your company's needs and any question you might have, because the more insight we have into market demand, the better we can gear our infrastructure and services to it. Express your interest. That's how we ensure that companies can easily connect to our hydrogen network.
Connect with other businesses
Many companies are enthusiastic about hydrogen, whether for production or consumption. It is not always easy for companies to find a producer or buyer, and we are happy to help as a neutral market facilitator. Who knows? Maybe there are companies in your area that also see opportunities in the hydrogen economy and with whom you can connect. This offers potential for expanding the hydrogen infrastructure. Find like-minded businesses with our H2-matchmaker.
Connect your company to our network
You want your company to go all in on hydrogen, but where do you start? Just fill in a ‘Request for Information’ to kick off the onboarding process. Our experts will work with you to investigate how we can work together.
We will be happy to guide you towards the right solution for you.