Author profile picture

To produce all our electricity sustainably, gas-fired power plants need to switch to hydrogen. However, owners of such power plants warn that this switch is hardly taking off yet.

why you need to know this:

In the transition to a sustainable future, a well-functioning hydrogen ecosystem is indispensable.

The conversion from gas to hydrogen power plants, an essential step in making energy supplies more sustainable, is a complex puzzle that is not yet complete. French energy giant Engie stresses on NU.nl that the required sustainable hydrogen is not yet available. Indeed, the Maxima power plant in Lelystad, for example, is not even connected to a hydrogen network yet.

Subsidy off the table

This is partly due to the fact that the government’s plans to subsidise the switch have been scrapped. The government had originally earmarked €1 billion in the Climate Fund to support this transition. However, this subsidy has been taken off the table, possibly due to conflict with European state aid rules. This calls into question the ambitious goal of producing all electricity without CO2 emissions by 2035, mainly from solar, wind and batteries.

Gas plants need support for every hour they run on hydrogen, because they face higher costs. Support is crucial to reduce CO2 emissions and meet sustainability targets. German energy giant RWE calls for clarity and stability in policy to make this transition feasible.

Gas plants indispensable

Although scientists predict that most power in the future will come directly from solar panels, wind turbines and batteries, gas power plants will remain indispensable for those times when these sources are insufficient. Especially during the dark winter months, it is essential that gas plants can supplement with renewable hydrogen energy.

Lessons from abroad

The Netherlands is also looking beyond its borders. Neighbouring countries like Belgium and the UK operate a system where power generators are paid a fixed fee if they can supply power on demand. This helps to keep gas plants profitable. The Netherlands is considering introducing a similar system, but the final decision on this will be deferred to a future cabinet.