For what is hydrogen used?

A lot of hydrogen is already used in the Netherlands: an amount with an energy value of up to 175 PJ (the total primary energy demand in our country is about 3,000 PJ). Current use is entirely for industrial production, such as refining petroleum or making fertilizer.

Hydrogen applications

Cars can run on hydrogen, industry can use it as a form of energy, and even some homes can be heated with it. It could function as an alternative to coal in the metal industry, for example. Currently, these energy applications are still extremely limited. Fossil energy is still the norm.

Driving and heating on hydrogen

Only a few hundred vehicles are running on hydrogen and only a few pilot districts are being heated with it. But the expectation is that this will grow in the coming years.

Hydrogen as energy carrier is more expensive.

De productie van waterstof kost zelf energie en vereist een proces met kostbare installaties. Dat maakt dat per definitie waterstof duurder is dan de energiedrager waar het uit voortkomt: aardgas of (groene) elektriciteit. De elektriciteitsprijs ligt per eenheid energie fors boven die van aardgas; daarmee is ook waterstof uit elektriciteit nu nog een stuk duurder.

Afvangen van CO2 broeikasgas

The production of hydrogen itself costs energy and requires a process with costly installations. That makes hydrogen more expensive than the energy carrier from which it comes: natural gas or (green) electricity. The price of electricity per unit of energy is higher than that of natural gas; therefore, hydrogen from electricity is still more expensive.

Capture of CO2 greenhouse gas

With natural gas, it only makes sense to switch to hydrogen if the released greenhouse gas CO2 is captured and stored. That too has a price. In short, household energy bills would go up significantly if we started heating all homes on hydrogen now, and in many homes more than if we switched to heat pumps or sustainably produced district heat.

Hydrogen widely applicable

Still, hydrogen is the right solution for a substantial proportion of homes. In certain historic districts or rural areas, a heat grid is impossible to build or there is no sustainable heat source on site. Electric heat pumps have limited capacity and require a very well-insulated house. This is often not a realistic option in old homes. In that segment, hybrid heating with electric water pumps and hydrogen for chilly days offers the best solution. Then you use the more expensive hydrogen only for the peaks in demand, for example on those few very chilly winter days.