How hydrogen, renewable electricity and digital tools can work together in the pursuit of sustainability

Oct. 11, 2023
Companies need to optimize energy consumption and carbon reduction efforts to combat climate change. A system of systems approach can make this vision a reality.

One of the most interesting aspects of the global campaign to reverse climate change is that it is largely an effort driven by many small participants working independently, rather than a coordinated program following government-issued directives. Although every company faces environmental, social and governance challenges individually, cooperative efforts can often deliver superior results.

As companies work towards a carbon neutral future by harnessing renewable and new energy sources, a greater degree of integration among companies and across industries will be required. This is why the system of systems (SoS) concept is gaining wide acceptance today. According to this concept, systems with operational and management independence can work together to achieve system-wide objectives that cannot be achieved alone.

In the process industries, the key to implementing a SoS methodology is proper integration, which requires operational technology (OT) domain knowledge and information technology (IT) skills. Both are necessary to address often overlooked integration issues, such as providing the widespread connectivity required by OT, while maintaining the cybersecurity needed by IT.

Let’s look briefly at two projects to show how Yokogawa is deeply involved in complicated SoS projects.

SoS for a hydrogen plant

Yokogawa has been selected by Shell PLC to be the main automation contractor (MAC) for the construction of its Holland Hydrogen I plant in Rotterdam, Netherlands (Figure 1). This facility will produce renewable hydrogen using a 200 MW electrolyzer powered by an offshore wind turbine farm. It will be Europe's largest renewable hydrogen plant, producing up to 60,000 kg per day of green hydrogen once it is operational in 2025. 

In its role as MAC, Yokogawa will optimize operations at the plant by closely integrating its systems and equipment. The green hydrogen produced at this plant will be transported via pipeline to Shell’s Energy and Chemicals Park in Rotterdam, where it will replace some of the grey hydrogen used in the refinery, partially decarbonizing the facility's production of energy products, including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

SoS through inter-industry collaboration

Cosmo Oil, Denka Company Limited, Iwatani Corporation, JFE Steel Corporation, JNC Corporation, KH Neochem, Maruzen Petrochemical, UBE Elastomer, Ube Material Industries and Yokogawa Electric Corporation announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding in December 2022. This agreement includes a joint study into activities for achieving carbon neutrality at an industrial complex in the Goi district of Ichihara City and the Soga District of Chiba City in Japan's Chiba Prefecture (Figure 2).

Yokogawa initiated the formation of the collaboration-framework for this project due to its strengths in the following areas:

  • SoS: For this type of inter-industry collaboration, the operational data of each company or plant must be connected and integrated in a cybersecure manner. By connecting these data, it is possible to devise measures to reduce CO2 emissions and ensure operational compliance. An SoS approach makes this possible. For example, waste heat from one company can be recovered for use by a different company. This improves sustainability and overall profitability.
  • Neutral third party: To realize inter-industry collaboration, the coordinator should be a neutral third party that is not an operator in the complex as it will be expected to facilitate fair arrangements.

In addition to the above attributes, Yokogawa will use its following capabilities to provide a comprehensive, actionable and concrete carbon-neutral solutions for the carbon neutral Goi and Soga complex. 

  • Knowledge and experience in process control technology.
  • Knowledge of process engineering and consulting know-how to deliver process improvement, energy efficiency improvement, cross-industry collaboration and other operational benefits.
  • Solution delivery capabilities created by the fusion of control process technology and process engineering.
  • Ability to provide regional energy management solutions that enable optimal control according to supply and demand, including pairing of processes, such as heat and power.
  • Simulation technology to help implement optimal production plans.
  • Integrating information while ensuring security. 

Common element

The SoS concept will become increasingly important as the world needs to utilize multiple sources of renewable energy, and as broader decarbonization initiatives need to be undertaken collaboratively among companies to achieve substantial decarbonization as a society. As the examples show, each project is unique, but all require OT domain knowledge and IT skills. In addition, most of these SoS projects will require a neutral facilitator to lead the different companies participating in the endeavor.

For example, when one looks at the hydrogen supply chain, there are individual systems for functions — such as production, pipeline transport, storage and supply — each of which is owned by a different entity. A neutral third party can play a leading role to closely integrate these systems based on the SoS concept, and to optimize the whole supply chain.

Every company faces ESG and sustainability management challenges. Companies like Yokogawa recognize both the challenges and opportunities, and are not waiting for regulators to force change, but are instead proactively working to implement solutions today, using every resource available. Through participation in projects that help companies achieve progress in their decarbonization strategies and add value to their enterprises, Yokogawa will continue their work to realize a more sustainable society.


Koji Nakaoka is the senior vice president for Yokogawa’s Energy & Sustainability Business and Global Sales Headquarters. He has been working in global sales for more than 30 years and has a broad range of experience in the marine upstream and downstream sectors. Currently, Nakaoka is focused on energy transition trends and the transformation of Yokogawa’s energy business using digital transformation solutions, and the optimization of renewable energy and other operations for the company’s client base.

Yokogawa Electric Corporation

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