Belgium to open two new hydrogen technology research centres

Antwerp and Charleroi will get new hydrogen technology research centres, each with its own specialisation, the federal council of ministers announced on Friday. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2026-2027.

The government has already approved a federal hydrogen strategy, with the ambition to move towards 100 per cent renewable energy and climate neutrality. The underlying idea is that Belgium needs not only renewable energy to become fully carbon neutral, but also large amounts of renewable hydrogen.

Part of the hydrogen strategy is to ensure that Belgium plays a pioneering role in hydrogen. The creation of centres of expertise - to be known as VKHyLab - fits into that framework. They are supported by the 16.2 million euro recovery and investment plan.

State-of-the-art environment

"Low-carbon hydrogen is one of the key technologies to realise the ecological transition of Belgian industry," state secretary for Energy Thomas Dermine said. "The future research centres will provide a state-of-the-art environment for manufacturers in the chemical, aerospace and energy sectors to position themselves as world champions in hydrogen."

The first centre will be on a 2.2-hectare site in the Next Gen District of the Port of Antwerp. It will focus on petrochemicals, transport, molecule storage and compression, offshore energy production and combustion engines for maritime transport.

"Low-carbon hydrogen is one of the key technologies to realise the ecological transition of Belgian industry"

The second centre will be on a 2.5-hectare site in the Cleantech District in Charleroi. That will focus on production by electrolysis or plasma analysis, combustion for heat production in heavy industry such as steel and cement, and certification of instrumentation.

A public tender is now being issued for the engineering studies, in preparation for the construction of the centres. Work will begin once the necessary permits are obtained in 2025, with completion scheduled for 2026-2027.


A hydrogen filling station in Antwerp © BELGA PHOTO DIRK WAEM

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