In Conversation with Jeannette Baljeu

Jeannette Baljeu has been Regional Minister of the Dutch province of Zuid-Holland since 2017. Her portfolio includes ‘Transition of the Port and Industry’ and ‘European and International Affairs’. As industry rapporteur for the Committee of the Regions, she wrote the opinion A New Industrial Strategy for Europe. The province works closely with IN4climate.NRW through projects and cooperation, such as the Industry Transition Platform for example.

From the Dutch point of view, what are the central and most important approaches to transforming industry in a climate-neutral way and what kind of measures are currently being implemented in your region?

Together with the Rotterdam Port Authority and other regional partners, we aim to present Zuid-Holland as “Holland’s Hydrogen Hub”. We are looking at various measures that need to be implemented at different speeds. In the short term, Zuid-Holland’s approach is focusing on energy saving and improving the energy infrastructure, including the re-use of steam and residual warmth by industry. On top of that, we are also facilitating CCS and CCU, which includes the development of a ‘blue’ hydrogen production facility (H-vision) to enable high temperature processes in a CO2 neutral way.

In the medium to long term, Zuid-Holland is focusing on the development of a sustainable energy system based on integrating electrification, use of ‘green’ hydrogen, storage of sustainable energy and other energy modalities in a smart way.

In the long term, Zuid-Holland is looking at developing a circular economy in which waste is re-used as feedstock, for example through the Waste to Chemicals project. In addition, we are studying the feasibility of Carbon Capture and Utilisation (CCU), for example for the production of synthetic fuels and feedstock in the Port of Rotterdam.

 

What do the Dutch and NRW hydrogen roadmaps have in common?

As mentioned in my video message and during the short exchange with Minister Pinkwart at the presentation of the NRW hydrogen roadmap, I believe that the roadmaps have many similarities. Most importantly, Zuid-Holland and NRW both believe in the importance of a hydrogen ecosystem in Northwest Europe with a strong connection between the Port of Rotterdam and the Ruhr Area.

The Port of Rotterdam is already developing into a Sustainable Energy Hub where supply (import and local production), demand (use in industry and mobility) and connecting infrastructure to NRW can come together. This infrastructure could also connect other large industrial clusters in the area, including Chemelot in Limburg. This would contribute to the development of an international hydrogen market, including the import of clean hydrogen from overseas as addressed in both roadmaps. The Port of Rotterdam with its worldwide connections and facilities will be able to play an important role as an import and transit hub for both Zuid-Holland and NRW.

 

In your view, why is hydrogen particularly suitable for cross-border cooperation and what concrete opportunities for cooperation do you see with NRW (and possibly IN4climate.NRW in particular)?

Hydrogen can help with cross-border challenges that Zuid-Holland and NRW both face, such as greening the economy and jobs, reducing CO2 emissions and system integration of solar and wind power.

Zuid-Holland and NRW are already working together on the Rhine Hydrogen Integration Network of Excellence (RH2INE), which focuses on zero emission transport along the Rhine-Alpine corridor. This could be used to raise greater international awareness of our interests and shared approaches; not only towards other regions, but also towards the European Commission.

Zuid-Holland and NRW share a similar profile of large industrial clusters with high demand for clean hydrogen that exceeds the expected supply. Infrastructure that connects Rotterdam and the Ruhr Area is already in place, but not yet for hydrogen. It is therefore important to develop a supply and transport infrastructure for the exchange of hydrogen. A strong hydrogen connection is what will enable us to implement our roadmaps and our shared ideas.