Belgian PM launches hydrogen energy federal strategy in Antwerp
The Belgian federal government is adjusting its hydrogen plans to avoid energy over-dependence and to make Belgium a strategic hub for hydrogen. The Prime Minister Alexander De Croo launched at the Port House in Antwerp this morning 18 October the "federal hydrogen strategy 2.0.", entitled "Shaping the Hydrogen Transition".
"Stabilizing the European continent is related to stabilizing our energy supply. It means looking at what we can produce ourselves, (...) but we will continue importing and exporting to the rest of the world," he said.
De Croo government is currently focusing on hydrogen produced with wind energy from the North Sea or supplied via pipelines from Southern Europe and North Africa. It aims to adjust its hydrogen strategy by importing from different countries, so that Belgium does not become too dependent on a limited number of partners, as happens with oil and gas.
The Belgian PM remarked that Belgium helped to avoid a recent black out in London to reiterate that international cooperation is needed in the energy sector.
"I'm not saying that to say 'hey, look at how great we are'," he said. "Integration of our policies and of our networks is the way we will to stabilize ourselves," he stated. De Croo also highlighted that Europeans should remain open to international trade. "This is the best way to create prosperity for Europeans and the rest of the world," De Croo added.
The federal government estimates that 20 terawatt hours (TWh) of imports will be needed by 2030 to cover domestic demand and transit to neighboring countries. By 2050, that will be between 200 and 350 TWh.
The launch of the strategy took place in the presence of Federal Minister of Energy Tinne Van de Straeten; Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO Port of Antwerp-Bruge; Thomas Dermine, State Secretary for Recovery and Strategic Investments; and European Deputy Director-General for Energy, Mechthild Wörsdörfer.
Oman and Namibia
According to the Belgian newspaper De Standaard, most of the hydrogen will be supplied by ships from countries such as Oman and Namibia. "These are countries with a great potential for renewable energy, which can use it to make green hydrogen very cheaply that can be shipped to Europe," explains the newspaper.
“There are plenty of opportunities for Belgium to become the hydrogen gateway to Europe,” told the same newspaper Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen). “Our ports are world-class and the existing natural gas infrastructure is fairly easy to adapt for hydrogen. We are also extremely well connected with our neighboring countries, where the demand for hydrogen is growing.”
The federal government is investing just under 500 million euros in a hydrogen network over the next six years. Part of the money comes from the European recovery plan. The hydrogen would be used on activities that cannot easily switch to electricity, such as heavy industry, freight traffic and shipping.
© BELGA PHOTO (JASPER JACOBS) Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during the presentation of the federal government's new hydrogen strategy, in Antwerp, Tuesday 18 October 2022.