The past year of energy price rises and the events in Ukraine have brought conversations regarding national energy supply to the fore both in the media and in governments around Europe. In particular Germany, heavily reliant upon Russian gas, has seen a shift in tone and policy. Renewable energy is now being seen not only as a long term solution to resolving the climate crisis, but as a possible solution to the very immediate problem of energy security.
But if we are to wean ourselves from fossil fuels much quicker than planned for by government, what is this transition going to look like? Fortunately, the Dutch might have an answer for us already. Their plan to retrofit and add-on to their existing natural gas network to create a ring-shaped hydrogen pipeline between industrial hubs looks like a huge step forward.
Hydrogen’s problem of low energy density, transmission inefficiencies and a tendency to be just a little bit leaky suggests that it’s unlikely to be powering your boiler at home without some major developments first. But it may well solve a large vulnerability in the Europe’s energy supply and, almost as side effect, shift a large chunk of industry onto clean, green, renewable energy.
Replacing natural gas in the UK is going to require the government to be bold, but it looks like the Netherlands may be setting out a roadmap for how to make the transition a reality.