Marcel van der Kar, Global Director of New Energies at Vopak outlined the three main solutions that the world’s largest terminal operator are looking at in regards to the energy transition at this year’s Terminal of Tomorrow online conference, hosted by Tank Storage Magazine and StocExpo.
The first is hydrogen. ‘Vopak is looking very closely at liquefied hydrogen,’ he explained, which is very comparable to LNG. It can be shipped and stored but it is a very capital intensive solution and must be extremely cold, which requires a lot of energy.
Hydrogen can also be transported as a gas, possibly by converting natural gas pipelines or constructing new pipelines – but he added that creating new pipelines, particularly under the sea, is an extremely expensive and a long process.
The second solution Vopak is looking at is ammonia. ‘Ammonia is interesting solution,’ van der Kar said. It’s a product that contains a lot of hydrogen and can be shipped and stored. Vopak is already storing ammonia in five different terminals however it is very toxic. ‘We understand the product, but it needs lots of attention so is only suitable for specific markets.’
The third solution Vopak is looking at is liquid organic hydrogen carrier (LOHC). ‘You can store and transport this in existing tanks and pipelines which has a lot of advantages,’ van der Kar explained. ‘It makes the transition safer and quicker but it also has disadvantages – you then have to disconnect the hydrogen from the liquid again at the end location.’
Vopak is currently working on projects for all three solutions. ‘We also see many other opportunities for how the storage sector can support the energy transition, for example there is an opportunity for Vopak to store electricity as a liquid, so you have large flow batteries to balance the electricity grid.’
One major hurdle in the energy transition is the lack of adequate infrastructure to distribute energy to the right location at the right price. ‘Vopak can help facilitate and also accelerate the energy transition using its market knowledge and knowledge of supply chains,’ he concluded.