Eleven different companies and organisations are joining forces in a unique collaboration for the development of a hydrogen economy in the Genk region. With this progressive initiative, the parties involved want to strengthen their ambition to play a pioneering role in the field of sustainable and low-carbon energy.
It is often difficult for individual companies to start up a hydrogen project on their own. POM Limburg therefore coordinates and facilitates the cooperation between the interested companies and organisations. The project was named 'Hydrogen Society Limburg', in which initiatives concerning hydrogen are being launched at various locations in the province. The first actual cooperation was recently signed in Genk. Here, the organisations are working together on the construction of a hydrogen filling station, the purchase of hydrogen-powered vehicles and local production of sustainable hydrogen. This project is in line with the ambition of the Flemish Government to become a frontrunner in the field of hydrogen in Europe.
Hydrogen: fuel of the future
Hydrogen can be stored in tanks on a vehicle, after which it is converted in a fuel cell into electricity that drives an electric motor. The use of hydrogen as a fuel offers many advantages. For example, no harmful substances such as CO2, fine particulates or NOx are emitted, but only water comes out of the exhaust. If hydrogen is produced from green electricity, it is also a very sustainable fuel. The use of hydrogen is somewhat more expensive compared to battery-electric vehicles, because the conversion of electricity to hydrogen requires extra energy.
What about battery-electric vehicles like Tesla's? Even though battery-electric vehicles have a more efficient energy use, hydrogen-powered vehicles can be refuelled very quickly and have a longer range. The choice between batteries or hydrogen therefore depends on the application of the vehicle. For larger passenger cars, vans, buses, garbage trucks and lorries, hydrogen is often a more suitable choice.
Impact transport sector
The transport sector is increasingly aware of the need to reduce harmful emissions from lorries and other transport traffic. "With this project, Limburg is taking another important step towards a low-carbon economy. A first successful hydrogen project will undoubtedly accelerate follow-up initiatives. Manufacturing and logistics companies that want to use hydrogen technology will find it easier to find their way to Limburg", concludes Tom Vandeput, chairman of POM Limburg.
Ambitious cooperation in Genk
POM Limburg is currently carrying out a preliminary study together with all partners. In the course of 2021, the results of this study will show which investments and technical developments are needed for the construction of the hydrogen filling station and production, and the purchase of vehicles. The filling station should be ready for use in 2023.
Several companies located in and around Genk are participating in the project because they want to contribute to a more low carbon society. Supermarket chain Lidl is investigating whether their deliveries around Genk can be done by hydrogen-powered vehicles. Limburg.net also wants to make use of this, because a garbage truck that runs on hydrogen has no emissions and is quieter than a diesel vehicle, which is good news for waste collection in urban areas.
IKEA and H.ESSERS are studying the use of hydrogen-powered vehicles on their business parks in Genk. Salvatore Napolitano, CPO of H.ESSERS explains: "H.ESSERS is constantly looking for sustainable solutions to reduce our ecological footprint. One of our initiatives in this context is a concrete study into the feasibility of zero-emission vehicles on our business park in Genk".
The city of Genk also wants to experiment with urban vehicles running on sustainable hydrogen. "The city of Genk wants to set a good example, and serve residents in an environmentally friendly way," says alderman Toon Vandeurzen. Construction company Cordeel wants to produce green hydrogen via electrolysis, for which a location close to the filling station is being sought. Air Liquide, which is active in the entire value chain of the hydrogen economy, also wants to produce additional sustainable hydrogen and supply its technology for distributing and refuelling the hydrogen.
Angelo Bruno of Bruno Service Station adds: "A hydrogen filling station is the next step in greening the logistics sector. Bruno Service Station will investigate the expansion and operation of this filling station in Genk". The project can rely on E-Trucks Europe, an innovative company from Lommel with many years of expertise in building hydrogen-powered vehicles, to support the purchase of hydrogen-powered vehicles. Waterstofnet vzw, an organisation specialised in developments in the field of sustainable hydrogen, also supports this project.
Companies interested in working with hydrogen (production, use, innovation, ...) and looking for collaborations in Limburg can contact POM Limburg (email@example.com).
Source: POM Limburg