Netherlands offers to be India’s ‘gateway’ to fuel EU’s green shift

With the Russia-Ukraine crisis leading to rise in oil and gas prices, there is a rethink of energy dependency on Russia among the European nations. The Netherlands is looking at reducing its energy dependency with Russia “as soon as possible”, while exploring alternatives including green hydrogen in the coming times.

“One of the things that is crystal clear now is that we should have done more in the last 10 years as a continent as Europeans, but also as Dutch to make sure we create more energy independence. We have talked about it for 10 years, potentially even longer, and we’ve done too little. Now, this clearly is something that is very much a topic again and we will make sure we get that energy independence as quickly as possible. I talked to the US Secretary of State (Antony) Blinken and Minister (Annalena) Baerbock from Germany and to many other colleagues. We will make sure we see this through and we will make sure we become energy independent of Russia ASAP,” Netherlands’ Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said in an interaction with Indian journalists.

“We cannot organise that tomorrow. For the Netherlands, the burden isn’t that high but for some of our friends in Europe, the burden is quite high. But we will see it through and we will do it as quickly as possible. And we will do it together with the whole European EU family,” he added.

The war in Ukraine has put dialogue around energy dependence in a faster transition mode, said the Netherlands’ Climate Envoy Prince Jaime de Bourbon de Parme, adding there’s potential for the Netherlands and India to explore trade in green hydrogen.

“One of the alternatives is green hydrogen. As it happens, it is one of the goals for India to become a net exporter of green hydrogen, we could become a net importer because the Netherlands doesn’t have enough space to produce all the green hydrogen ourselves. That’s not just for energy intensive industries, but also for transport and household usages. Potentially, gas could be replaced by green hydrogen,” he said.

The Netherlands could become a facilitator for export of green hydrogen from India to Europe, Jaime said.

“The Netherlands is well-positioned to be your gateway to the rest of Europe, with the Port of Rotterdam as Europe’s biggest port, linking to Northern European countries including Germany and Belgium. There’s a potential to explore for our two countries,” he added.

The Netherlands is at present in dialogue with the industry because they are in the process of placing orders. “So the question is how do we structure it and what infrastructure do we need? Are you going to ship hydrogen as ammonia or in frozen form? All that needs to be agreed to see which way is the best. Right now, Singapore and Japan are the furthest developed in importing green hydrogen, so we are looking at them also to set the standard and to see what is the standard going forward,” Jaime said.

Going ahead, investments from the Netherlands — the fifth biggest foreign investor for India — could see a shift towards renewables from fossil fuels, he added. As per calculations by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), India needs about $42 billion over the period till 2030 per year for the annual renewal energy investments.

The Netherlands is working with India on a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on renewable energy, which is likely to be taken up for discussion during the upcoming visit of President Ram Nath Kovind next week to the country.

“There are several areas of collaboration, such as research, knowledge, building plants and infrastructure such as ports and solar and wind generation. All these areas need to be mapped out and severely reduce emissions if we are to preserve a futureproof planet,” Jaime said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while speaking at the 3rd Re-inVest Conference in November 2020, had announced plans to launch a comprehensive National Hydrogen Energy Mission. Last week, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari travelled to Parliament in a hydrogen-based fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV), in what could be interpreted as a strong indication of a shift in stance by the Centre that has so far backed conventional battery-powered electric vehicles, or BEVs.

In the Union Budget for 2021-22 last year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed launching a Hydrogen Energy Mission in 2021-22 for generating hydrogen from green power sources.

Last month, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy announced a 13-point Green Hydrogen Policy detailing the various incentives and ways to manufacture green hydrogen.

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