This article is part of a series on lobbying in the north of the Netherlands.
The energy transition is gaining increasing attention in public debate. In recent years, many countries have debated climate change and how to deal with it. Governments have reviewed and approved investments to reduce carbon emissions and find alternatives to fossil fuels.
In 2019, the European Union introduced the European Green Deal. This is a set of policies aimed at making the EU climate neutral by 2050. Review existing laws and approve new regulations to facilitate the transition to a more sustainable society and economy.
In the north of the Netherlands, local authorities and lobbying organizations have identified hydrogen as an ideal energy source to drive the energy transition in the region and the country. Political parties, businesses and universities are actively advocating for the development of hydrogen-based ecosystems encompassing businesses, homes and public spaces.
Lobbying has already yielded important results. In 2020, the Northern Netherlands will become the first European country to have a so-called hydrogen valleyA fully functional green hydrogen chain spanning the provinces of Groningen, Frisland and Drenthe.
Hydrogen Valley received approximately €90 million in subsidies. 70 euros of that is from public-private partnerships. The project is called HEAVENN (H2 Energy Applications (in) Valley Environments (for) Northern Netherlands) and will be developed over six years. It is coordinated by the lobbying organization Strong Northern Netherlands (SNN) and the New Energy Coalition (NEC), a network of knowledge institutions, businesses, governments and NGOs.
Since the discovery of natural gas in the 1950s, North Holland has become the country’s main energy supplier. Today, the energy sector is her second largest economy in the region, both in terms of supply from renewable resources, employment, innovation and knowledge.
The Dutch government has decided to stop gas extraction from the Groningen area by 2024. As a result, North Korea must leverage its existing pipeline infrastructure to accelerate the use of cleaner alternatives and bring about a radical shift in its energy industry.
According to Strong Northern Holland lobbyists, a leading position in this sector, combined with the region’s geographic features, can drive the transition to the environment. Hydrogen could become a major energy source in the north. It can be used for decarbonization and energy storage in some industrial sectors.
Decarbonizing the economy will not come without cost as it will require maintaining existing jobs and infrastructure in the energy extraction sector. Advisors to SNN explained that hydrogen is a logical solution as gas pipelines have already been installed and the region has great potential for offshore wind power due to its proximity to the North Sea. Additionally, ports can be used to import hydrogen from other locations as needed.
Patrick Knaben Architect of the Hydrogen Valley. In his vision, the three sectors that will benefit most from hydrogen are his three sectors: local businesses, mobility and home heating. “Local and central governments are faced with a choice. Now is the time to invest not only in pipelines, but also in smaller applications such as mobility,” he said.
Regional and European Lobbying
SNN advisers explained that the momentum for the EU is now. Since the launch of the Green Deal in Europe in 2019, international organizations have been actively working on the energy transition, with numerous proposals to amend regulations.
Through lobbying, SNN collects the needs of local authorities and the private sector and identifies what to ask national and European governments. He has two purposes. It is about overcoming financial and regulatory hurdles and adapting the proposed framework to local perspectives and needs.
At the European level, lobbyists say the regulations are either lame or too strict and complex. Simplification makes it easier for investors and promoters to get their projects off the ground. From a local perspective, it is important to gather all input from all involved players and build a comprehensive position of their respective interests.
According to Cnubben, the northern part of the Netherlands should become “even more prominent” in Brussels. “Everyone needs to understand that this is the energy sector. I proposed to nominate an ambassador. At every negotiating table, everyone recognizes.
Knuben said pressure on the Dutch government needs to be increased. “We will prioritize hydrogen and energy on the political agenda as much as possible, maintain the urgency of this issue, and increase funding for the Hydrogen Valley. We need solid proposals.”
Tjisse Stelpstra, Regional Minister for Energy in Drenthe, agrees with this vision. “Our main responsibility as a local government is to promote projects and markets. ,” says Stelpstra. Regional Ministers explained how local governments are bringing their experience to the EU and advocating for policies that contribute to the deployment of hydrogen technologies. “We are co-leaders of his EU Hydrogen Valley Partnership, an active member of the pillars of the Hydrogen Europe region and one of the founding regions he We are collaborating more and more,” he explains Stelpstra.
SNN and the New Energy Coalition have agreed that the northern Netherlands does not need funding simply because it “deserves” the gas extracted over the past decades. Instead, both organizations stressed the importance of a long-term regional perspective that would allow projects to be deployed quickly.
HEAVENN is an example of this approach. It aims to realize and share different economic models based on cooperation between local authorities, municipalities, the private sector and academia. Promoters describe HEAVENN as a well-integrated project with different value chains and multiple uses (mobility, industry, home, etc.). The concept is based on the deployment and integration of existing and planned project clusters at his six locations in the north of the Netherlands (Eemshafen, Delfzijl, Seidwending, Emmen, Hoogeveen and Groningen).
In this way, HEAVENN combines large projects that take time to realize with small projects that are easy to execute and produce tangible results in a short period of time. SNN mentioned waterstoff house (Tiny Hydrogen House in English), new in Hoogeveen hydrogen station Emmen, which opened last year, has already completed two projects that citizens can benefit from.
Local Marketing, Global Visibility
Lobbying is key to getting a project off the ground, but local governments also need support from local communities. On this issue, SNN and NEC share the same opinion, citing the importance of raising awareness of the Hydrogen Valley as a potential marketing and tourism driver.
“Providing more funding to the northern states will make the region more attractive,” Cnubben said. This cycle will then increase tourism and other sectors. “Local authorities should actively tell The Hague: ‘This is what I can offer to this country, but I need your support.’ We need to recognize that we are one of the key players in the challenge,” he continued.
Knubben mentioned groningen hydrogen capital The initiative as an example of marketing efforts to help position the North as a global frontrunner in the hydrogen economy. Other initiatives should include events that explain how the transition to hydrogen works and how people will benefit from it.
https://northerntimes.nl/lobbying-hydrogen-valley-heavenn/ Building a Hydrogen Valley – The Northern Times