Harro van der Rhee

EMEA CO2 Reduction Strategy Executive ExxonMobil

1. How does H-vision fit within ExxonMobil’s wider strategy?

As becomes clear from recent investments, we continue to see the Netherlands – and Rotterdam in particular – as a promising base of operations for the years ahead. Although this is dependent on the development of a stable investment and policy framework in the longer term. We will continue to increase the sustainability of our operations and renew and develop our local plants to ensure that they remain competitive. They already rank among the most energy-efficient facilities in Europe. Thanks to a huge number of different chemical companies and storage options, Rotterdam is an attractive port for the petrochemical industry.

As a society, we want to preserve our existing prosperity and choice of products. But we also want to protect the environment and realise climate ambitions. Our industrial sector forms an integral part of the solution, and of our future, including during the current energy transition, through its efforts to innovate and invest in new technology. And by working together with other parties here in Rotterdam – participating in projects like H-vision and the Porthos CCS initiative – we have taken the next step towards the further reduction of our CO2 emissions. In addition, we can supply residual heat from our plant for heating houses in the area, and we are exploring opportunities to use other feedstocks (biofuels), recycle plastic, etc. ExxonMobil is planning to stay in the port of Rotterdam.

2. What's your opinion of Rottredams's hydrogen policy?  

H-vision is mentioned in Rotterdam’s Climate Agreement and Rotterdam intends to be climate-neutral by 2050. This is good news. The Municipality has decided to establish itself as a frontrunner in the development of the hydrogen economy – with the port of Rotterdam as a driving force. The administration is convinced that hydrogen will play a major and crucial role in the energy transition; one that will have a positive impact on both the sustainability of Rotterdam’s port and industrial cluster and the growth of the city’s economy. Hydrogen can be used as a feedstock, fuel and energy carrier.  H-vision and blue hydrogen will enable Rotterdam’s industrial sector to substantially reduce its collective CO2 emissions before 2030, while simultaneously paving the way for the large-scale integration of green hydrogen.

3. Which moment in the near future will prove particulary important and why?

The elections. They could once again bring sweeping changes to the Dutch political landscape, making parties more hesitant to invest. The Government Strategy on Hydrogen recently published by the Cabinet confirms the role H-vision will play through its ‘contribution in the short term to the reduction of CO2 emissions’. In this outlook document, the government clearly states that ‘blue hydrogen paves the way for the large-scale integration of green hydrogen’.

It is important for the industrial sector that the incoming government shares this perspective and follows it up with public funding in support of innovative projects of this kind. Industry will need to invest heavily in this venture, too, but a share of these investments won’t be profitable in their own right – which is why they need to be supported with grants from the EU or the Dutch government.

Harro van der Rhee

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