Innovation 01-10-2023

New feasibility study: ports of Rotterdam and Duisburg strengthen cooperation on hydrogen

Inland port Duisport and the port of Rotterdam announce the next step in their partnership towards and leadership of the development of European hydrogen chains with a new feasibility study.


  • Collaboration prepares a key hydrogen corridor for the increase in demand for green hydrogen expected until 2045
  • Feasibility study conducted by the ports highlights their significant roles as future hubs for the hydrogen market
  • Study underlines need for scaling up of infrastructure and transport routes, with demonstration of hydrogen corridor in action planned with partner OCI Global


The study shows the combined role the two portshave to play in supporting the growing demand from the industry for hydrogen and its derivatives, and acting as a conduit between the governments, industry, and future players in the hydrogen market.


OCI Global, the Dutch listed global leader in ammonia, methanol and hydrogen, is partnering with the ports to demonstrate that the planned hydrogen corridor between Rotterdam and Duisport is already in place and in a strong position to meet the high demand for low carbon and renewable hydrogen from the industrial cluster in the Ruhr region.


OCI Global and the Port of Rotterdam Authority already have a longstanding partnership, working together on a number of decarbonization initiatives. OCI Global operates the port of Rotterdam’s only ammonia import terminal, which it is in the process of expanding to triple its throughput capacity, in anticipation of growing demand for ammonia as cleaner fuel for hard-to-abate sectors. OCI also operates a methanol import terminal and earlier this year, the company announced two new green methanol partnerships in the port of Rotterdam: with Unibarge to develop the world’s first dual-fueled bunker barge powered by OCI HyFuels green methanol, and with X-Press Feeder Lines to supply green methanol for their new-build methanol dual-fueled common feeder ships. Both projects will be deployed next year. Last month, OCI completed Europe’s first bunkering of green methanol onto the world’s first green methanol powered containership, owned by A.P. Moller – Maersk, in the port of Rotterdam.


Contribution to market activation and acceleration of the energy transition

The feasibility study highlights that in North Rhine-Westphalia, a significant increase in the demand for low carbon hydrogen of more than 3 million tonnes per year is expected until 2045. The demand for methanol is also expected to increase significantly, to more than 2.5 million tonnes per year. However, more clarity is needed on supply and demand, and Duisport and the Port of Rotterdam Authority are mediating between the political and business worlds to match supply and demand and provide the necessary clarity to help speed up the decision-making on investments and subsidies. The ports are supported by the hydrogen initiative ‘Hy.Region.Rhein.Ruhr e.V.’, co-founded by Duisport, which the port of Rotterdam has now also joined.


Need for infrastructure advancement

To meet expected demand, it will be crucial to scale up relevant infrastructure and provide suitable areas. The study shows that the first hydrogen pipeline between the two ports should be completed by 2027 to meet the growing demand for green hydrogen in North Rhine-Westphalia in the medium term. Hydrogen derivatives pipelines and pipelines for the export of CO2 should follow. Inland shipping and rail transport will also remain essential elements in getting the hydrogen chains up and running, and facilitating the first imports. According to the study, several hydrogen pipelines will ultimately be needed to meet the demand in North Rhine-Westphalia and beyond.


Europe’s largest sea port – the port of Rotterdam – and the world’s largest inland port – duisport – have been interconnected for decades by rail, inland shipping, trucks and pipeline connections. The existing collaboration was expanded last year with a MoU on digitalisation and energy transition, to jointly explore the possibilities for green hydrogen, methanol and ammonia.


Local hydrogen production in Duisburg from 2025

Both ports are already taking action to develop the necessary infrastructure to support the hydrogen economy. One central building block for a resilient supply to the industry is the expansion of tank storage capacities for hydrogen derivatives in Duisburg. Duisport recently announced its intention of building a storage facility for tank containers with green energy sources and a tank farm for liquid renewable fuels and raw materials such as ammonia in the port of Duisburg. The construction of a first hydrogen plant is planned for mid-2025.


Together with the city of Duisburg and the Essen power plant, the first hydrogen training centre in the region is currently being built. From 2025, staff from across the hydrogen value chain will be educated and trained here to meet the growing demand for skilled personnel.


In the port of Rotterdam, several projects have been announced for hydrogen import terminals and local hydrogen production, including the expansion of OCI Global’s ammonia terminal, and the building of a 200MW electrolyser by Shell. Space has been reserved for several electrolysers that will produce green hydrogen from North Sea wind energy. Gasunie recently made the decision to invest in the national hydrogen network, the construction of which will start in Rotterdam.


Source: Port of Rotterdam