Belgium has launched a call for proposals to prepare its ports to import massive amounts of green hydrogen as part of its efforts to become a ‘hydrogen gateway’, Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten announced.
The call for projects will be launched in October, with a budget of €10 million, Belgian media outlet L’Echo reported.
The main focus is the port of Antwerp-Bruges, which the government wants to become the gateway for green hydrogen in Europe.
Because of its location, the port is already one of Europe’s major energy hubs, transporting 10% of the EU’s gas and connected to the North Sea’s offshore wind farms.
To reduce the EU’s reliance on Russian fossil fuels, the EU has set an aspirational target of producing 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen domestically and importing the same amount by 2030.
To contribute to this target, Belgium adopted its National Hydrogen Strategy in 2021, which aims to “position Belgium as an import and transit hub for green hydrogen in Europe” and make it “a leader in hydrogen technologies”.
In October last year, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo insisted on Belgium’s ability to become “the gateway for hydrogen in Europe”.
Belgium has already started looking for international partners and recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Chile to import green hydrogen from there. The two countries have agreed to set up a corridor for Chilean green hydrogen and its derivatives to be shipped to Belgian ports.
Potential issues with infrastructure
Speaking to the Energy Committee of the Belgian House of Representatives on Tuesday (26 September), Van der Straeten highlighted the need for investment in logistics.
“If we want to keep an industry in Belgium, we need a decarbonised industry and therefore have the necessary infrastructure,” she said.
To this end, Brussels and Berlin have already announced their intention to interconnect their future hydrogen infrastructures by 2028.
The question of how best to transport hydrogen is all the more topical now that oil and gas giant TotalEnergies announced on 14 September its intention to purchase 500,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year by 2030 to decarbonise its six European refineries.
A very large proportion of this green hydrogen is expected to be destined for its Antwerp refinery, which will require large quantities to be imported into Belgium, L’Echo added.
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