Gasunie set to oversee North Sea hydrogen network plan

AMSTERDAM, Dec 2 (Reuters) - The Dutch government on Friday said it would appoint gas grid operator Gasunie to oversee plans to develop a hydrogen network in the North Sea, Energy Minister Rob Jetten said Friday in a letter to parliament.

The Dutch government is due on Dec. 8 to hold a parliamentary debate on ambitious plans to convert much of the Netherlands' natural gas network to hydrogen over the coming decade.

The country has plans to add more than 1 Gigawatt (GW) of offshore wind capacity annually for many years, reaching 20GW by 2030.

Engineers say not all of that can be used during morning and afternoon hours when most is generated, and the government is exploring alternative ways to store electricity. Batteries and hydrogen are among solutions under consideration.

"After 2030, a significant share of energy from windparks will be transformed into hydrogen and brought to shore with pipelines, because over these long distances transport of hydrogen is more efficient than transporting electricity," Jetten said in the letter.

Friday's letter envisions Gasunie as the organisation to oversee the construction of hydrogen pipes to carry hydrogen to shore, along with 4GW of capacity to convert electricity at sea to hydrogen through hydrolysis. No cost estimate for the projects was given.

Jetten said the country was on track to realise 500MW of hydrolysis capacity by 2025.

"The cabinet expects to subsidise 800-1,000MW of hydrolysis projects in the IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest) in the coming year."

Jetten cited figures of 783.5 million euros as being available for a second round of hydrogen projects and another 794 million euros for third and fourth rounds, including for hydrogen import projects.

"The division of these resources among concrete projects will be made known in 2023," he said.

Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout, Geert De Clercq, Editing by Louise Heavens and Barbara Lewis

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