€25.7 million for national cooperation in electrochemistry and green hydrogen

21 June 2019

At the conference for Electrochemical Conversion & Materials (ECCM) held today, David Pappie, Director of the Top Sectors and Industrial Policy at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, gave the go-ahead for a total of €25.7 million for initiatives in sustainable energy storage and conversion. Four programmes have been brought together under the coordination of a national ECCM Advisory Committee. 'The ECCM conference has resulted in a partnership involving various scientific and industrial parties who will be working together across the entire field of knowledge and innovation. This is necessary to facilitate the transition to a sustainable energy system,' says Pappie.

During the conference, Pappie and partners NWO, TNO, ISPT and the Province of Groningen gave the go-ahead to four programmes that have been adopted or initiated by the ECCM Advisory Committee and that meet the requirements for continuous development of fundamental and applied knowledge. The projects are a tenure track programme involving NWO and various businesses that aims to strengthen the foundation of fundamental knowledge of ECCM in the Netherlands, an NWA (National Science Agenda) programme on energy storage and conversion for larger consortia, a new electrochemical laboratory for hydrogen production at TNO in Petten, and the Hydrohub MW Test Centre in Groningen, initiated by ISPT (Institute for Sustainable Process Technology), which focuses on large-scale hydrogen production. 'These initiatives should reinforce each other and so help us overcome the major challenge of electrifying the industry and our energy system for the long term,' says Manon Janssen, chair of the Industry Climate Table and the figurehead of the Energy Top Sector.  

Towards a national and international coalition

Janssen says this is only a first step. 'Last March, PBL [Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency] demonstrated that electrification is a promising means of drastically reducing CO2. But at the same time, PBL also said that this will require considerable investment. These initiatives across the entire board of knowledge and innovation are a step in the right direction, and now we are encouraging them to cooperate. I am particularly proud of the coalition between the Top Sectors for High-tech Systems & Materials, Chemistry and Energy,' emphasizes Janssen. 'Intensive cooperation between these three sectors is essential in order to exploit the potential of new technology and applications for the energy transition. By joining forces at the national level, we have ensured that the initiatives can reinforce each other and that the Netherlands is ideally organised and positioned for cooperation at the international level.'

ECCM 2019-06-21 Nienke Homan Niek Lopes Cardozo Ton de Jong Fotocredits Sjoerd van der HuchtNienke Homan, Niek Lopes Cardozo, Ton de Jong. Fotocredits Sjoerd van der Hucht

Cooperation across the board

The four initiatives (see box) each focus on different stages of development, and the ECCM Advisory Committee encourages cooperation between them. During the conference, Niek Lopes Cardozo of NWO launched a research programme worth Є7 million which will invest in the fundamental knowledge base for ECCM in the Netherlands. He also announced the start of the Storage & Conversion programme, for which €3.8 million has been earmarked. This programme has been established as part of the National Science Agenda (NWA) and aims to form interdisciplinary consortia in the field of ECCM in collaboration with social parties.

Ton de Jong of TNO presented the new electrochemical laboratory in Petten: the Faraday Lab. An investment of €6 million will be used to achieve significant cost reductions in green hydrogen production, and should culminate in a cost price of less than €2 per kilogram of hydrogen. In addition, he announced an additional investment of €2 million per year in the VoltaChem open innovation programme, which aims to integrate and scale up industrial electrification and electrochemical CO2 utilisation technology.

ECCM illustrates how the Advisory Committee's work has created synergy between the various programmes and instruments and has led to cooperation on a single core theme. Through NWO, the Minister of Education, Culture and Science is investing in the tenure track programme and the ECCM programme that was initiated through the National Science Agenda. The State Secretary for the Interior and Kingdom Relations is investing in the Faraday Lab and the Hydrohub, and is also contributing to the National Science Agenda programme.

In the region

A large part of the energy transition will have to take place at the regional level. During the conference, Nienke Homan (representative for the political party GroenLinks in Groningen) announced the construction of a physical test site for more efficient and cheaper electrolysis and hydrogen production. This test site, which has been christened the 'Hydrohub MW Test Centre', involves an investment of almost €7 million, which has been raised by the province, the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, the participating businesses and TNO. The Institute for Sustainable Process Technology (ISPT) is at the heart of Hydrohub.  

Richard van de Sanden, the chair of the ECCM Advisory Committee, explains: 'We want the initiatives to cooperate as effectively as possible. NWO's tenure track programme is strengthening the knowledge base so that initiatives like the Hydrohub MW Test Centre and the Faraday Lab can build on it. The test site in Groningen and the TNO lab in Petten will also generate new fundamental scientific questions. The consortia launched through the NWA programme will help to reinforce cooperation between the various stakeholders. The ECCM Advisory Committee is committed to supporting these initiatives. This is only a first step; an additional commitment by all stakeholders will be sorely needed if ECCM is to become a truly feasible alternative in the energy transition.'

The four initiatives

NWO ECCM tenure track call (TRL 1-3)
In order to strengthen the knowledge of ECCM in the Netherlands, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science is investing in a so-called tenure track call through NWO. The tenure track offers a career path for scientific staff. The tenure track appointment will start at the level of assistant professor and progress to associate professor and finally full professor. The ECCM tenure track call lays a foundation for new research groups specialised in ECCM in the Netherlands. Responsible Innovation forms an integral part of the programme and focuses on the social acceptance of new technologies and their application. NWO is investing a total of €7 million in this call and co-financing has been provided by Tata Steel, Nouryon and Shell. The call is now open. Further details.

National Research Agenda (NWA) call for Storage & Conversion projects (TRL 1-3)
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy is funding half the costs of the NWA call for Storage & Conversion projects. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has doubled this amount through NWO, so a total of €3.8 million is now available. Storage and conversion involves the storage of renewable electricity in chemical compounds. This transformation is indispensable in a sustainable energy system and requires in-depth fundamental and applied knowledge of ECCM. A focus on knowledge transfer and application of the results are important parts of this call. The programme calls on knowledge institutes and other interested parties to participate in research and implementation projects. The consortia will work in interdisciplinary projects representing the entire knowledge chain. Further details.

TNO Faraday Lab and VoltaChem programme (TRL 3-7)
In the Faraday Lab, the new electrochemical laboratory in Petten, TNO is developing hydrogen production techniques based on PEM electrolysis. How can we deploy cheaper and more readily available materials and at the same time increase the life span and efficiency of the electrolysis process? How can we scale up the manufacturing processes for electrolysers and green hydrogen? TNO is cooperating in the Faraday Lab with the industry and various suppliers, for example of membranes and coatings. The Faraday Lab will also be used for the VoltaChem open innovation programme. Alongside hydrogen production, the programme will also investigate electrochemical conversion of renewable resources (biomass and CO2) and Power-to-Heat solutions. The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy has invested €6 million in the Faraday Lab. TNO is investing an additional €2 million per year in the VoltaChem programme for research into industrial electrification and Carbon Capture and Storage. Further details: VoltaChem en TNO Hydrogen.

ISPT – HydroHub MW Test Centre (TRL 4-7)
The Hydrohub MW Test Centre aims to support the technological development of water electrolysis. By 2030, the researchers in the test centre hope to reduce the costs of electrolysis to between 50 and 100 euros per kilowatt, with an efficiency of over 80% (for the first five years of use) and a pressure of 30 bar. This will provide an important impulse to the development of sustainable hydrogen in Groningen. The test centre will be built on the Zernike Campus of the University of Groningen and should be operational within a year. The Hydrohub Mw Test Centre was initiated by ISPT, with help from Entrance, the University of Groningen, Nouryon, Yara, Gasunie, Shell, Frames, Groningen Seaports, Yokogawa, TNO and the Province of Groningen. The construction of the test centre involves an investment of €6.9 million. Further details: www.hydrohub.eu.

About ECCM

The Advisory Committee on Electrochemical Conversion & Materials (ECCM) advises the Dutch government on the transition to a CO2-neutral industry based on intermittent and sustainable energy generation, storage and conversion. The Advisory Committee has the support of the Top Sectors for HTSM, Energy and Chemistry, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, NWO and TNO.

ECCM is a cross-sectoral theme in the energy transition. The Advisory Committee coordinates ECCM initiatives at the national level by establishing new cooperation projects and by adapting existing projects that fit within the scope of the advisory report published by the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee advises the government on how to improve cooperation in innovation throughout the chain.

The Advisory Committee is also building an ECCM community of institutes, businesses, government agencies and NGOs, to which end it organises ECCM conferences. An ECCM graduate school will be launched in 2019 to further the growth of the ECCM community in the Netherlands.

Further details: www.co2neutraalin2050.nl

If you have any questions or comments, please contact the Advisory Committee at secretariaat@eccm-mail.nl.

Source: NWO