Facility & Business Planner at ExxonMobil
H-vision is an innovative and complex project. It covers the entire value chain, from supplying and decarbonizing refinery gas to the use of the blue hydrogen produced for high-temperature industrial purposes. The project and support partners all play a role in this value chain. Within H-vision, a number of workgroups have been set up that are responsible for delivering the preconditions of the project. These workgroups mainly consist of employees of the core partners, supported by Berenschot, EGEN and TNO. Deltalinqs takes care of overall project management and ensures that the various workgroups work well together and stay informed of the various developments. I represent ExxonMobil in three workgroups: the technology, the business case and the subsidy workgroup. As a Facility & Business planner at ExxonMobil, I have been closely involved in developing a CO2 reduction roadmap for our factories in recent years. Before this, I participated in the development and the construction of our new hydrocracker, a project that is quite comparable to H-vision in terms of investment level. The technical knowledge and experience I have gained there can now be put to good use within H-vision.
In the technology workgroup, we develop the technological adjustments that are needed, both on the production and on the user side. There are multiple possible technologies for the new to-be-built- hydrogen plant. In our workgroup we have worked to prepare requesting proposals from various technology providers. One of the prerequisites set for this request is that an oxygen-driven hydrogen production process must be offered, because H-vision aims for more than 95% CO2 capture. On the user side, the technology workgroup is working on the necessary permits. In collaboration with the communication workgroup, we will be studying this year on the effect of burning blue hydrogen on, among other things, the emission of nitrogen, so that this information can be taken into account in the further development of the permit process. Together with the infrastructure workgroup, we are also looking at locations for the new hydrogen plants. The infrastructure workgroup has identified a number of possible locations in the port area. Related to this, we mapped out the necessary infrastructure for the transport of the refinery gas and hydrogen. In the coming period, the various locations will be evaluated in more detail. The business case workgroup looks at the economic feasibility of the H-vision project. The H-vision concept can count on broad support; of the cabinet, the municipality of Rotterdam, the province of South Holland, the European Commission and various knowledge institutes. At the moment however, there is still a lack of concrete and suitable options for subsidies to cover the unprofitable investment top. The industry will have to invest a lot, but some of these investments are not profitable and this requires subsidies from the EU and/or the Dutch government. The business case workgroup therefore works closely with the subsidy and communication workgroups to provide insight into the degree of financial support that H-vision needs. These workgroups are currently actively in discussion with various bodies, including RVO, PBL and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, to investigate the possibilities for support at both national and European level.
Projects such as H-vision can contribute immensely to achieving the climate goals for 2030. Our Dutch refineries are among the most energy efficient complexes in the world and make an important contribution to our society. Electrification of these processes requires very high temperatures and is not yet technically feasible. In addition, the electricity demand of the refineries would increase by roughly a factor 10. The required infrastructure and the required amount of generated green electricity are simply not available in the short term. H-vision offers a cost-effective solution, with which the Dutch industry can be decarbonized quickly, responsibly and in a competitive way. The biggest challenge I see for the project team is how to deal with the lagging regulations, policy instruments and subsidy options for the use of blue hydrogen for high-temperature purposes. Time is running out: 2030 is fast approaching and lead times of projects such as H-vision are approximately 6 to 7 years. In its Hydrogen Vision, the government has confirmed that H-vision can contribute to CO2 reduction. It is therefore important that the new government continues to follow that line and offers the conditions to make these kinds of innovative projects a success.