Belgian firms and researchers join forces in "green hydrogen" push

A GM Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle is seen being fueled at the Shell Hydrogen fueling station during its opening at JFK Airport in New York July 14, 2009. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

BRUSSELS, May 28 (Reuters) - Several Belgian industrial groups and research centres on Friday said they had formed a consortium to promote the production of "green hydrogen" in the Dutch-speaking Flanders region to help industries lower their carbon footprint.

Bekaert (BEKB.BR), specialised in steel wire and coatings, the retailer Colruyt (COLR.BR), the holding company Ackermans & van Haaren (ACKB.BR) and the engineering group John Cockerill said their consortium, Hyve, would promote cost-effective and sustainable production of hydrogen for fuel at gigawatt level.

The firms gave no indication of the size of their planned investment, however, or what precise form it would take.

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Green hydrogen, produced by the electrolysis of water from renewable energy, is seen as one of the keys to the European Union's drive to achieve "net zero" carbon emissions by 2050.

"To make green hydrogen competitive, the price of green electricity needs to fall further, electrolysers need to become more cost-efficient, and economy of scale needs to do its trick in lowering production costs," said DEME group, which specialises in dredging and is involved in the project.

The Flemish IMEC and VITO research centres will work to improve the efficiency of electrolysing technology. Bekaert will supply materials while John Cockerill, a producer of alkaline electrolysers based in French-speaking Wallonia, will deal with production.

DEME, which also deals with offshore energy, plans to use the new electrolysers to convert wind and solar energy into green hydrogen. Colruyt will support research into sustainable transport.

"We clearly believe in hydrogen technology as a promising zero-emission solution for transport and logistics and are committed to investing in innovative hydrogen applications," Colruyt CEO Jef Colruyt said in a statement.

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Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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