From the beginning of next year, an apartment complex in Rozenburg, near Rotterdam, will be heated using hydrogen. ‘We want to demonstrate that it is technically possible,’ says project leader Albert van der Molen from grid operator Stedin.
This relates to an apartment complex of 25 homes on the Bosseplaat in Rozenburg. It is to be fitted with heating boilers specially developed to run on 100% hydrogen. The hydrogen is produced using an electrolyser that runs on green power.
The heat supply to the complex is limited: the hydrogen boilers serve as co-firing heaters for the natural gas powered central heating system in the apartment complex and will supply some 8% of the total heat demand. The limited heat supply with hydrogen is related to the statutory task of the grid operator. Van der Molen: ‘We may not function as an energy supplier, but some extra co-firing is permissible.’ The grid operator wants to use the trial to demonstrate that heating using hydrogen is possible (see also Stedin’s press release about the hydrogen-fired homes. And if it's possible on a small scale, then it's possible on a large scale too.
For heating on 100% hydrogen, a boiler was needed with modified burners due to the different calorific value of the hydrogen gas. Remeha and Bekaert Heating each supplied such a hydrogen boiler. Van der Molen: ‘Both companies deserve a compliment for offering these units.’ Existing burners can cope with up to 30% blended hydrogen.
Stedin is demonstrating that the supply of hydrogen does not require different pipes than are currently used by the natural gas grid. ‘It's existing material, we don’t have to change anything specific.’ Stedin has announced previously, based on research from testing institute KIWA, that the existing grid can be made suitable for transporting hydrogen.
The hydrogen trial in Rozenburg is a follow-up to a project started in 2014 in which Stedin supplied green gas to the apartment complex. Van der Molen: ‘We wanted to demonstrate that we could produce green gas of natural-gas quality using hydrogen and CO2.’ That trial was a success. ‘But methane – the most important component of green gas – still emits CO2 into the air, even when it originates from a CO2 source. So heating with green gas is CO2 neutral. With hydrogen, we don’t do anything with carbon molecules.’ The decision to opt for green gas at the time, instead of hydrogen, was motivated by the desire to use the existing central heating boiler in the complex. ‘A hydrogen boiler was a step too far at the time.’
For the existing system, which is housed in two containers in front of the apartment complex, the switch to hydrogen was easy. ‘Now, there’s no need to produce green gas.’ However, we do need a larger electrolyser than the one used for the 2014 trial. The new one will produce 4 m3 per hour.’
The plan is that hydrogen heating will commence early next year.
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Opening photo: the two containers with all the necessary equipment in Rozenburg. Photo: Stedin.
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