Amid much interest, one of the first hydrogen labs in the Netherlands was opened on Friday. It is an initiative by HZ University of Applied Sciences and Scalda. In the practical space, located in the HZ building in Vlissingen, both vocational (mbo) and higher professional (hbo) students will be taught about hydrogen. Professionals can also receive additional training in the lab.

Zeeland has a significant climate challenge due to its large industrial sector. However, the energy transition also presents many opportunities, such as in the field of green hydrogen as a clean fuel and raw material. Many 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 gray hydrogen needs to be converted to green hydrogen in the coming years if we are to meet the goal of producing less CO2 by 2050.

Green hydrogen is produced from water by electrolysis using electricity. This hydrogen transition requires substantial investments, but also many skilled professionals at all levels. To address the latter, HZ and Scalda have joined forces and established the hydrogen lab. The practical space was partly realized through a financial contribution from the Stichting Zeeuwse Publieke Belangen en GroenvermogenNL.

Professionals of the Future

As part of the European Just Transition Fund project HCA Groene Waterstof, HZ and Scalda will train the professionals of the future. Eight technical vocational (mbo) and eight higher professional (hbo) programs will receive new modules on green hydrogen. Courses for professionals will also be offered. "If we start training professionals now, we will be ready when the first green hydrogen plants open in Zeeland," says project leader Gerben Huiszoon.

Students will soon receive lessons in the hydrogen practical space. This includes a fuel cell demo set (which shows how to convert hydrogen into electricity via a fuel cell), sets for hydrogen practicals, a scaled sustainable simulation house, fuel cells, and various types of electrolyzers. According to Huiszoon, the space at HZ is one of the first in the Netherlands. Geoffrey Sips, alderman of the municipality of Vlissingen, who was present at the opening on Friday, sees it as a great addition to the Kenniswerf, the area in Vlissingen where HZ, Scalda, Dockwize, and the Delta Climate Center are located. “Het is prachtig om te zien dat dit lab er nu is. We lopen hiermee voorop in Nederland. Daarmee trekken we nog meer studenten naar onze stad en de provincie. Zij zien dat je hier moet zijn als je iets doet in de waterstoftransitie.”