Over the next few years, there is a lot to happen in Zeeland when it comes to hydrogen. Due to its large industrial sector, the province has a big climate challenge. The energy transition also offers many opportunities, for example in the field of hydrogen as a clean fuel and raw material. To make the hydrogen transition a success, a lot of investments and trained people are needed.

With regard to the latter, there is an important task for HZ University of Applied Sciences and Scalda. In the Just Transition Fund project HCA Green Hydrogen, they are joining forces to train the professionals of the future. The project was officially launched in January with a kick-off attended by many people from HZ and Scalda.

Target in 2050

Many large, industrial companies in the North Sea Port area such as DOW, Yara and Zeeland Refinery have been using hydrogen from natural gas for years. Much of this grey hydrogen needs to be converted to green hydrogen in the coming years if we want to meet the target of producing less CO2 by 2050.

Green hydrogen is produced from water by electrolysis with electricity. This transition requires substantial investment, but also many skilled professionals, at all levels. "We desperately need the people, because hydrogen is not hype. It has been around for an incredibly long time. It is an old topic, but we have new challenges," says lector Jacob van Berkel of the HZ research group Delta Power.

And you have to start training professionals now, because you will be on time when the first green hydrogen plants open in Zeeland. "That's how we did it a few years ago with offshore wind energy. The first graduated students could immediately start working for the Borsele wind farms," said Scalda's director of Technology and Maritime Véronique van der Reijt. "We were just in time then to innovate education. Now we are doing the same with hydrogen."

New education modules

In the HCA Green Hydrogen project, eight technical mbo and eight technical hbo courses are getting new education modules on green hydrogen. Part-time modules are also being developed, designed for professionals who want to retrain, and teachers can follow a professionalisation programme. "The first eight teachers will go on courses as early as spring 2024," says project leader Gerben Huiszoon.

Hydrogen laboratory

To train the students and professionals in the best possible way, there will be, among other things, a practical hydrogen laboratory at the HZ in Vlissingen. Here, students from the HZ and Scalda will soon receive practical education on hydrogen. Among other things, they will work on building a hydrogen boat. They will also have access to a so-called fuel cell demo set (which shows how to convert hydrogen into electricity via a fuel cell), sets for hydrogen practicals, a sustainable simulation house to scale, fuel cells and several types of electrolysers.

The renovation and furnishing of the practice space will take place in the first months of 2024. It should open its doors in mid-June.

The HCA Green Hydrogen project came about in consultation with companies and organisations such as the province, Energy Port Zeeland, Smart Delta Resources, DOW Chemical, Orsted, Air Liquide and VoltH2.It runs until 31 December 2026.

The HCA project is made possible by a contribution from the Just Transition Fund, a new European fund for just transition. The Zeeland Public Interests Foundation is making the hydrogen practice space financially possible.