An aerial view of the site, Source: Terranova

Hydrogen factory project near Ghent regenerates former gypsum dump

Hydrogen factory project near Ghent regenerates former gypsum dump

The plant will make use of the solar power plant known as Zonneberg

Yesterday, several energy companies announced a joint project to construct a hydrogen power plant near the North Sea Port in Ghent, Belgium. The project aims for constructing the green hydrogen plant at the site of a former gypsum dump, revitalising the area.

The plant will make use of the nearby solar park Zonneberg which has 55,000 solar panels and be able to provide around 2.5 megawatts of energy to the hydrogen plant. Moreover, the project has the financial support of the Flemish government, through the regional hydrogen plan, with funding of around 4.33 million euros.

The project is the result of a joint agreement by three companies, Luminus, Terranova and Nippon Gases, to form the new company Terranova Hydrogen NV.  According to an official statement, the plant will be able to start producing the first hydrogen molecules at the start of 2025.

Ecological regeneration

The big development in the new hydrogen plant near Ghent is that it will be built on a regenerated gypsum dump. Terranova has been working on regenerating the site since 2010, eliminating all safety and stability risks around the polluted site.

The previous owner of the site had deposited around 20 million cubic metres of gypsum, which had to be sealed with a deposit of soil, clay and drainage mats to create a watertight layer. This is because if water seeps into the gypsum layer, it can start to flow and pollute the surrounding areas. According to the company, the whole effort took around 600,000 cubic metres of cover.

The hydrogen plant

Hydrogen is a promising green fuel that can help Europe accelerate toward a carbonless future. This is because, when the fuel is used the only by-product of combustion is water. Yet, there are three types of hydrogen that can be produced – grey, blue and green – and they are not equal.

Grey means that it is produced using fossil fuels, so it emits a lot of CO2. Blue means it is produced with natural gas, so still entails some CO2 emissions. Green, on the other hand, means that the hydrogen was produced with green energy and the whole process is carbon-free, from production to use.

The project calls for a plant that can use 2.5 megawatts of energy to produce the substance and officials say that that can expand to 5 megawatts. Additionally, the facility would have high-pressure vessels and be able to transport products to consumers via trucks.



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