15 innovative research and development projects will be financed this year by the Energy Transition Fund. This federal fund, created as part of the transition from nuclear power to other energy sources, encourages research on the security of energy supply.
Among the successful applications is the project entitled "Hydrogen to Grid National Living Lab (or "H2GridLab"). This is a joint venture initiated by Sibelga (distribution system operator in Brussels), in close collaboration with John Cockerill (international provider of specialised energy technologies and services) and Fluxys (operator of the gas transmission system in Belgium).
Experimentation with decarbonated gases
The "H2GridLab" research partnership, which will initially be the subject of a feasibility study, will aim to create a participatory laboratory where green hydrogen, an alternative gas to natural gas, will be tested.
The experimental site, which is none other than the Anderlecht gas reception and expansion station, will host numerous pilot projects such as the production of green hydrogen using photovoltaic electricity from the solar panels on site, local storage of hydrogen and feeding back into an experimental network.
And there is no shortage of ideas, as this infrastructure will be pooled to acquire technical, scientific and regulatory expertise on decarbonated gases.
Green hydrogen: a bridge between energies
Renewable hydrogen opens up very interesting prospects, as it can be used to store surplus green electricity (e.g. via solar panels) and thus act as a bridge between gas and electricity. This is an example of the coupling of the electricity and gas sectors, commonly referred to as Power-to-Gas (P2G).
Indeed, excess electricity generated by intermittent renewables can be used to produce hydrogen by electrolysis. The hydrogen can then be stored in gaseous form, waiting to be used, for example, to generate electricity again using fuel cells. Today mainly used in the industrial sector, hydrogen could in the future be used to supply natural gas networks. Hydrogen can also be converted into motive energy to power vehicles.
Marie-Pierre Fauconnier, Managing Director of Sibelga: "The energy system of the future will increasingly have to turn to new decarbonated energy carriers such as hydrogen. I am confident that the H2GridLab project, initiated by Sibelga, will help to develop the necessary technical and operational knowledge to support the transition to renewable energy in Belgium and Brussels. "