Province of Groningen
The province of Groningen is working on different projects that are contributing to its main policy goal of becoming totally energy neutral by 2050. Focus areas are amongst others for instance wind energy (mainly offshore wind) and a circular economy. Using hydrogen, in combination with wind (or solar) and batteries, instead of fossil fuels can be contribute to this energy transition, for instance in the field of mobility. Since the province of Groningen is responsible for the public transportation system of buses and regional trains, we have a major influence in the switch to zero emission mobility.
This is also why the province of Groningen signed a letter of intent for 100% zero emission buses by the year 2030 or sooner if possible and Groningen is also the only province in The Netherlands that signed a letter of intent for a CO2 neutral train system by the year 2050 or sooner if possible. To reach these goals the province is mainly looking at hydrogen and electric mobility (opportunity and overnight charging) as alternative fuels, also because the regional train system is a not electrified yet.
In the coming years the province will launch several pilot projects to find out which solutions are the best for the regional public transport system. For the buses the focus is on the introduction of electric buses with batteries and a system of overnight or opportunity charging, since the distances most buses ride every day are not that large (especially the ones within the city of Groningen to a maximum of 15 km outside). For some of the regional buses the hydrogen option is also explored. In 2017 the province will start a pilot with two hydrogen buses and together with the national government and other Dutch provinces, the province of Groningen signed a letter of intent for the scale their fleet up to 20 hydrogen buses.
For the regional train system a catenary system has been investigated as well the hydrogen/battery trains option. The hydrogen trains look more promising when it comes to the costs of the investments needed, the implementation time and are also more flexible to introduce. This is why the province of Groningen recently decided to stop looking at the catenary option. No other option is excluded but hydrogen looks promising for now. The province is working on a pilot to test a hydrogen train on a short part of one of our corridors in the year 2019 as a start.
Furthermore the province has also started a pilot with autonomous driving vehicles (small 100% electric buses) in 2016 and is planning to test more of them in the coming years, with a main focus on the attainability of the rural areas. The province is also starting an investigation for autonomous trains to make the regional train system more sustainable.
The province of Groningen would like to share their knowledge with the other HyER members: there is a lot of knowhow on the field of energy in Groningen, and a lot experience with the above mentioned pilot projects. They would also like to gain knowledge on the different projects of the other members are developing. The province of Groningen is also looking forward to develop new projects with HyER members.