The UK and the Netherlands as #NorthSeaNeighbours: business-driven innovation for sustainable growth

As North Sea neighbours, the Netherlands and the UK share a significant relationship spanning centuries of trade and investment, and the exchange of ideas in academia, art and design. Our interests in tackling climate change as well as ensuring sustainable economic growth are closely entwined. With the UK’s low-carbon economy now worth more than £200bn, and with growth expected to accelerate in the coming years, the Netherlands is keen on partnering with the UK in innovative and sustainable business in the energy and maritime sector.

Both the UK and the Netherlands have important ports functioning as green gateways to inland markets, highly developed maritime sectors and similar gas infrastructures. Our countries share a prioritisation for cleaner hydrogen as a key component in the transition towards a greener, more sustainable society. By incentivising investment and stimulating cross-border cooperation in these sectors, the UK and the Netherlands – as North Sea neighbours – can boost their economies, create high-quality jobs and drive sustainable growth.

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(Digital) Trade mission to the UK: Why now?

We look back on an unexpected year. The corona pandemic – leading to social and economic disruption on a huge scale – has shown us how to completely rethink the notion of ‘business as usual’. As countries like the UK and the Netherlands slowly start to emerge from the first acute phase of the pandemic, it is still substantially shifting the thinking of both the public and private sector.

COVID-19 made clear just how interconnected social, economic and environmental challenges are. A sustainable economy has become more and more fundamental to all our endeavours towards making the world viable and futureproof. The Paris Agreement set a number of urgent targets that must be met in the coming years. We witness ample examples of innovative and sustainable public-private cooperation across the Channel that can contribute to these targets. Both the British and Dutch government aim to achieve net zero emissions, with key sectors such as energy and maritime already introducing greener technologies.

In the run up to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November this year, the Netherlands is striving to bring together Dutch businesses with (potential) British partners to exchange ideas and technologies. The upcoming Dutch (digital) trade mission to the UK on Thursday 7 and Monday 11 October will provide participants with the chance to network in order to achieve our common long-term objectives. The trade mission will focus on smart and green ships and ports, and hydrogen as an alternative fuel, as both the energy and maritime sector play a key role in the transition towards a sustainable economy.

This (digital) trade mission to the UK follows a fact-finding mission in June, which showed momentum for further public-private cooperation among British and Dutch businesses in the energy and maritime sector. This trade mission aims to consolidate this momentum – by bringing together businesses from both sides of the Channel, as well as government, to collaborate for innovative solutions. As North Sea neighbours, the Netherlands is looking forward to working closely with the British industry, innovators and government to deliver real action on our climate agenda, with real benefits for Anglo-Dutch businesses and communities.

Hydrogen as a crucial link in clean energy and sustainable mobility

Transitioning to clean energy can only be made a reality through international collaboration and strong cross-border partnerships. Hydrogen plays an important role in our transition to a more sustainable future. As an alternative to natural gas, hydrogen creates new opportunities for grid balancing, seasonal storage and as a carbon-neutral fuel in virtually all modes of transport. The Netherlands’ expertise in wind energy has for example already contributed to creating affordable solutions for the production of green hydrogen. Yet, there are still steps to be made to make the large-scale production of hydrogen profitable.

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  • The Netherlands seeks out opportunities in and exchange of ideas with the UK for the large-scale production of green hydrogen. Our vast combined knowledge in using hydrogen as a key component in the energy transition, extensive gas grid, strategic coastal locations, well-developed international transport routes and large industrial clusters make our two nations a good match.
  • The development of hydrogen is important as an energy carrier in mobility, especially for heavy-duty road and waterborne transport. The Dutch government wants the mobility sector to be free of harmful emissions and CO2 by 2050. To this end, the National Climate Agreement of 2019 has formulated the ambition to realise 50 publicly accessible hydrogen refuelling stations by 2025, with a possible further growth to 210 by 2030. The energy demand for hydrogen for mobility is expected to be around 140 million kg per year in 2030.

Hydrogen is also one of the 10 priorities set out in the UK’s 10-point plan, with an ambitious target to generate 5GW of low-carbon hydrogen capacity by 2030. The UK is committed to building a low-carbon hydrogen economy that will not only open many job opportunities but will also make significant strides towards a greener planet. With the recent publication of their hydrogen strategy, the UK government is planning to provide 105 million pounds in funding to support industries so that they can significantly reduce their CO2 emissions. By expanding their network with Dutch companies and sharing knowledge, British business can significantly impact their global ambitions to reduce CO2 emissions through the use of alternative energy sources and innovative zero-emission transport solutions.

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Collaborating on smart and green ships and ports

The UK’s 10-point plan includes creating a greener maritime sector. This plan  closely matches the Netherlands’ maritime ambitions. As seafaring and trading nations, the UK and the Netherlands have a unique opportunity to make the maritime sector more sustainable together. Innovating and greening the maritime sector and its entire logistics chain are central to both parties’ maritime and inland shipping strategy.


  • By collaborating on the development of smart and zero-emission shipping and optimising green port cities, Dutch-British cooperation can stimulate our local economies and create competitive business advantages while making our maritime sectors more sustainable.
  • As a strategic partner, the Netherlands aims for collaborative opportunities for the construction of multi-use offshore energy parksdeveloping cutting-edge naval technology and implementing bespoke concepts for the digitalisation and optimisation of ports facilities.

Businesses can share knowledge and expertise to initiate, amplify and accelerate the development of innovative, technical solutions in the maritime sector that contribute to achieving zero-emission shipping. The UK and the Netherlands coming together means our common goal of creating a more sustainable blue economy is within reach.

#NorthSeaNeighbours: partnering up for innovative and sustainable solutions

During this mission, we encourage you to share your digital, clean solutions and expand your network with the Netherlands. The specific focal points of this mission are as follows:

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