Now that the Dutch government wants all residential buildings in the Netherlands to be off natural gas by 2050, interest in hydrogen is growing as an alternative for the heating of homes. However, preparing a natural gas infrastructure for a transition to hydrogen requires specialised expertise. For that reason, Kiwa and Alliander recently founded the Hydrogen Experience Centre: a demonstration and training in the shape of a regular home. There, professionals can learn how to make the natural gas infrastructure of residential neighborhoods suitable for hydrogen.
The Hydrogen Experience Centre in Apeldoorn is equipped as a typical home with a kitchen, an electrical panel and a complete heating system. There are two boilers: one for hydrogen and one for natural gas. For demonstration or training purposes, the pipelines in the building can be connected to either boiler. The demo house allows professionals to practice the application of hydrogen in the built environment. It also serves as a knowledge centre where new insights in the energy transition and hydrogen applications are presented.
The energy network company Alliander sought a collaboration with NPM-participation Kiwa because they are known in the Netherlands as the most prominent training company in the field of hydrogen applications for the energy transition. Kiwa CEO Paul Hesselink said: “There is a rapidly growing need for professionals who can realise the energy transition on a practical level. This demo house offers technicians the training facilities they need to help the Netherlands take real steps towards achieving its climate goals. Kiwa has impressive expertise in all aspects of the hydrogen system: from production and transport to distribution and consumption. We have a lot of gas and materials experts on board and we are an authority in natural gas and other gases, including hydrogen.
Boosting the energy transition
Kiwa and Alliander share the conviction that hydrogen can serve as a boost for the energy transition. Just like natural gas, hydrogen can be used for heating and can be stored in large volumes to absorb fluctuations in supply and demand over the seasons. It makes the electricity grid more flexible, offers a solution for heavy mobility, and can serve as a resource for industry. Only limited changes to procedures and measuring instruments are necessary to safely manage the pipeline networks that transport hydrogen to end-users. Using hydrogen contributes to reducing carbon emissions: a recent Kiwa study showed that connecting part of the industry in the Port of Amsterdam to hydrogen could save an average of 396,000 tons of carbon emissions annually. That's almost equal to the total annual carbon emissions of a city the size of Wageningen. Kiwa CEO Hesselink said: "If we invest in producing hydrogen on a bigger scale in the coming years, economies of scale will make the use of hydrogen more and more inexpensive. Hydrogen can also play an important role as a storage medium for green energy. Peaks in supply from wind and solar can be cost-effectively stored by converting them into hydrogen. The storage of energy in hydrogen is a thousand times cheaper than using batteries. The technology is ready to deploy hydrogen as a solution in the energy transition. Now, what is necessary is to train as many installers and technicians as possible and get to work with hydrogen applications. Our Hydrogen Experience Center is an important step in that direction."