Rotterdam region ready for new hydrogen economy Credit: Claire Droppert

The energy transition in the Rotterdam maritime region is more ambitious than it seems to the outside world. Lieuwe Brouwer, energy transition advisor at the municipality of Rotterdam, is speaking. “Ambitions with regard to hydrogen, for example, are serious, large-scale and achievable in the short term. However, the right preconditions must be created for this. In that respect, the ball is now in The Hague.”

Learn more about hydrogen in the maritime capital of Europe.

In the port of Rotterdam, energy and industry are inextricably linked. Rotterdam is home to the largest and most integrated energy industrial complex in Europe.

“Behind the scenes, various cooperation partners have been working on sustainability for years,” says Lieuwe Brouwer. “A lot has already been realized and there are still a large number of great projects in the pipeline in the maritime capital of Europe for the next five years.”

“In Rotterdam, things happen on a large scale. This also applies to sustainability through the production of hydrogen, and its use as an energy carrier and raw material.”
Lieuwe Brouwer - City of Rotterdam
Learn more about the energy transition in the maritime capital of Europe.

Sustainable society and economy

According to Lieuwe, Rotterdam has good cards in its hands when it comes to the energy transition and strengthening its contribution to a sustainable society and economy.

“In Rotterdam, things happen on a large scale. This also applies to sustainability through the production of hydrogen, and its use as an energy carrier and raw material.” At the moment, for example, large quantities of ‘grey’ hydrogen (made with natural gas) are already being produced for industrial use. “The production of 100% sustainable ‘green hydrogen’ will start up quickly,” he continues.

“Within three years, Rotterdam will be the first place where large-scale green hydrogen plants will be located.” In the long term, Rotterdam should become Europe’s Hydrogen Hub; a hub in Europe’s sustainable energy system.

The Rotterdam region distinguishes itself internationally by tackling things in a big way. According to Lieuwe, this approach offers unprecedented opportunities. “We can do this because the region has a large and well-cooperating energy cluster. Including reliable infrastructure and comfort to invest with vision in scalable sustainability.”

Apart from sustainability improvements, the production and import of green hydrogen also provide interesting economic activity and innovation at suppliers and in adjacent sectors such as trade and business services.

Focus on greening

But if Rotterdam wants to maintain its position as the largest energy port in Europe, it will have to focus on sustainable energy and raw materials. Both in terms of production and with regard to import, transhipment and transit to the European hinterland.

“It is precisely in the area of setting up successful import chains that there are opportunities for the Rotterdam region,” says Lieuwe. “For achieving climate goals, but also for renewing the economy. Don’t forget that our region is of considerable importance for national employment, economy and society.”

“Greening contributes to the motivation to (continue to) live and work in the region.”
Lieuwe Brouwer - City of Rotterdam
Learn more about Rotterdam the European hydrogen hub.

Lieuwe continues: “Sustainability and social considerations also seem to play an increasingly important role in educational and career choices.” According to him, greening therefore contributes to the motivation to (continue to) live and work in the region.

“Given the size and economic value of the regional ecosystem, investing in the energy transition of the Rotterdam energy industrial complex is therefore actually also an investment in the national economy and the creation of social added value.”

This includes promising projects that arise from the close cooperation within the hydrogen innovation ecosystem,which focuses on the development of high-quality technology and unique infrastructure.

Within this system, there is a primary role for the business community. The public side is mainly supportive. There really is a broad cooperation between all players and sectors. Creating social added value is the common denominator.


The realization of a large-scale transition is, however, accompanied by some challenges. For example, a successful import chain requires a sufficient supply of sustainable energy from countries with a surplus in its production.

Think of green hydrogen that is produced on the basis of wind, solar or water energy. According to Lieuwe, there are a number of bigger challenges to be found closer to home. “It would help, for example, if the tendering of locations for offshore wind farms is speeded up. A higher level of ambition is really needed to prevent the Netherlands from missing the boat.”

He continues: “In addition, we are pleased with the support for hydrogen from electrolysis announced by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate. Nevertheless, unfortunately, this is not enough for our plans.” Thanks for staying up to date with Hydrogen Central.

“We want to make investment decisions this year for electrolysers on an industrial scale. In order to be able to do this, we really need more clarity about the possibilities in terms of state aid. With adequate financial support, we can realise Rotterdam’s ambitions. And at the same time strengthen our role and position in the development of a robust international hydrogen economy.”

This article was first published in Dutch by the Rotterdam Maritime Capital of Europe network. Translation to English by courtesy of Hydrogen Central.