HEAVENN - Hydrogen Energy Applications in Valley Environments for Northern Netherlands
What challenges did you face during the process of obtaining public funding for your project?
For projects that are built up from several sub-projects, the individual evaluation process at the various authority levels which are potential partners for public co-funding (national, regional) can be quite time-consuming. Due to the current one-stage application process for FCH JU grants for example, every project needs to invest substantial resources to participate in the application process with very limited chances of being successful.
What specific measures did you take to overcome these challenges?
For regional or local public co-funding, it can be a beneficial option for hydrogen projects to leverage already successfully established access to public funding. Meaning that the already positive and strict evaluation on the European level, such as the FCH JU, can be used to convince regional or local decision-makers to shorten their evaluation process. No additional evaluation on regional or national level should be required if the EU or the FCH JU did already reward a project.
What learnings can other projects take away from your experience?
Generally, it's highly important to invest into obtaining information about content and requirements for public funding (calls) as early as possible in order to prepare the necessary arrangements and align interests from the key partners. Further, the best advice for new projects is to ensure early integration and collaboration of relevant public authorities. This includes discussions about the scope, objectives and prospects of the project and of course eventually an outline of possible co-funding.
What are specific measures you took when it comes to successful risk mitigation of your employed technology?
First, we identified key factors on technological risk mitigation: ensuring the possibility of e.g. fast and reliable maintenance and repairing services from suppliers or from trusted third parties. For that reason, we implemented a reserve fund for the project to be able to react effectively to potential hurdles and delays, such as technical or financial trouble for an essential equipment supplier.
What learnings can other projects take away from your experience when it comes to hydrogen off-taker commitments?
While the major problem for all hydrogen valley projects at the current stage is that green hydrogen is not yet price competitive to fossil fuels, it becomes increasingly important to ensure a closed eco-system of regional production and end use from the very beginning, and thus forming a "real hydrogen valley". Our key learning is to identify potential regional off-takers at the earliest project stage and in the following, include them in the project either as potential partners or as potential off-taker.
However, this requires the involved parties to be motivated and committed to the goal of becoming an integrated hydrogen valley. In this phase of the development it is about creating a joint approach instead of pursuing a sole (individual) commercial focus. The involvement of these motivated private and public parties will ultimately be the key to a project's success.