Rethink Hydrogen

A multidisciplinary Living Lab on large-scale green hydrogen in the North Sea

Green hydrogen enjoys unprecedented momentum as it is positioned as a key enabler for net zero-emission futures and for energy self-sufficiency in Europe. The North Sea is considered a hotspot for this production as it offers ideal conditions and is at short distances from the hydrogen market demand. However, offshore production is performed only in relatively small pilot installations (e.g., by project member Lhyfe) suffering from many technical and scientific challenges. Further, developing the North Sea into an energy valley is not undisputed. Currently, researchers, politicians and the wider public have a limited overview of the knowns and unknowns of hydrogen production. This includes potential social, ecological and economic aspects, geopolitical aspects between production in the global north and global south (and vice versa), fairness and justice1 aspects of subsidies, and realistic timelines for scaling up hydrogen production.

UU researchers from different disciplines work on hydrogen challenges, and students and scholars are eager to become involved in hydrogen research, as it is ‘hot and happening’ with a huge promise and relevance for the future. However, the uncertainties and unknowns described above make it difficult to gain a holistic view of their hydrogen research and its relation to other disciplines and how it fits in just and sustainable energy transitions.

The project team, therefore, proposes to take up the challenge to develop a holistic view on hydrogen production in the North Sea by identifying and quantifying critical relationships. We aim to visualise such relationships in a Living Lab, to offer a basis to further engage UU scholars on hydrogen research, to foster mutual relations between research disciplines, and to close knowledge gaps within and outside UU. In this project, we will develop a prototype Living Lab, specifying spatial, functional and participatory requirements, and how to use visualisations. This prototype is a major step towards the realisation and (continuous) improvement of a Living Lab for multidisciplinary ‘thinking’ about the hydrogen value chain and ultimately to engage with a wider public.

Research questions

Following our vision, ambition and insights as developed during the incubator phase, we want to address the following research questions:

  1. What are the target group(s) of a Living Lab?
  2. What are critical relationships for just and sustainable hydrogen energy production on the North Sea potentially suitable to address in a Living Lab?
  3. How can we quantify critical relationships in Deep Dives?
  4. How can we model, and visualise the identified relationships for the target group(s)?
  5. What are a Living Lab's functional requirements, action plan and budget?