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Ameland tests hydrogen in practice

Friday December 9th, 2022

As the final part of the German-Dutch INTERREG project H2Watt, Ameland is currently testing the application of hydrogen in the island’s energy supply. With a hydrogen fuel cell, the island will meet the energy demand of part of the built environment. The test provides insight into the flexibility of an energy system in which hydrogen is an important connecting link.

The aim of H2Watt is to test a hydrogen application in practice on each of the Wadden Islands Borkum and Ameland. The H2Watt project is supported under the cooperation programme ‘INTERREG Deutschland-Nederland’ by funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and by the state of Lower Saxony as well as the provinces of Drenthe, Friesland and Groningen. It is also supported by the Management INTERREG programme in the Ems-Dollart Region (EDR).
On Ameland, a fuel cell will be in operation between 1 December and 11 January that will monitor the electricity demand of part of the village of Buren as precisely as possible. A fuel cell is an innovative technique for making electricity from hydrogen. JP Energy Systems has facilitated the supply of the fuel cell. A workshop will take place on the island today where the background and significance of the test will be explained and discussed.

Independent solar park
One of the initiators of H2Watt is Leo van der Burg of industry association FME. “We are curious whether a fuel cell can produce electricity so flexibly that it can follow the ever-changing electricity demand of an area. If this succeeds, it will be possible in the future for a newly built solar park on Ameland to operate largely independently of the electricity grid. The solar park’s production can then be converted largely into hydrogen during the day, when demand is low; after sunset, the green electricity will still be delivered to households.”

Different forms of energy
With this, the new solar farm will pose practically no additional burden on the regional electricity grid, says Van der Burg. “Many places in the Netherlands currently have restrictions on the connection of solar panels, as the capacity of local and regional grids is often insufficient. This is why the new Ameland solar park, which will be built next year, will be equipped with a large battery battery right away. In the future, the solar park’s production can then also be stored in hydrogen.” The advantage of hydrogen is that the stored energy is available in different forms: as heat, as electricity and as a gaseous fuel. Application of hydrogen is interesting for industry, transport, the maritime sector and – as demonstrated on Ameland – in the built environment.

Adjusting plans
The H2Watt workshop will also focus on regulations and licensing for hydrogen applications. There is still little experience with this; many guidelines are still under development. “Something like this is inevitable in a transition period,” Van der Burg believes, “It does demand something from the partners in a project like this. You have to be prepared to lead the way, think with each other, take well-considered risks and, if necessary, adjust your plans. Within H2Watt, we have done this several times. Nevertheless, we are very proud of the steps we can now take.”

Energy roundabout
The fuel cell now being tested on Ameland will be on the island until mid-January. Meanwhile, there are plans to build, step by step, an installation including electrolysers, fuel cells, battery packs and a digester near the new solar park (realisation 2023). This ‘Energierotonde Ballumerbocht’ should eventually become a sustainable and fossil-free energy system that allows the island to meet an increasing part of its own energy and heat demand. The intelligent control of the plant is being developed in IANOS, another European research project in which Ameland is involved.

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