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Estonia to become the world’s first nationwide Hydrogen Valley

Estonia becomes the first country in the world to establish a nationwide Hydrogen Valley, turning Estonia’s hydrogen initiative into an export item for a $2.5 trillion global market.

Although there are already several similar hydrogen projects cooking all around the world, Estonian Hydrogen Valley is one of a kind here covering the whole country.

A global market of 2.5 trillion dollars

In days of green transition, hydrogen plays a central role. Hydrogen can help make weather-dependent green energy, such as wind and solar power, usable everywhere and anytime by providing a way to store and transport energy when it’s not immediately needed. This is because hydrogen can be produced through the electrolysis of water using renewable electricity and then stored in tanks or pipelines until it’s needed.

For example, on days when there is excess wind or solar power being generated but low demand for electricity, the excess energy can be used to produce hydrogen through electrolysis. The hydrogen can then be stored and used later, either as fuel for transportation or to generate electricity through a hydrogen fuel cell. This helps to balance the supply and demand of energy, making it possible to use renewable energy sources more effectively.

Hydrogen can also be transported over long distances through pipelines or in tanks, making it possible to move renewable energy from areas with high production to areas with high demand. This is particularly important for areas that may not have sufficient renewable energy resources or storage capacity.

According to the Hydrogen Council, hydrogen could supply up to a fifth of global energy needs and generate a market worth $2.5 trillion by 2050.

Pushing the boundaries

The Hydrogen Valley Estonia consortium, officially launched on April 18th, comprises public and private organisations and research institutions such as Alexela, Eesti Energia, the Port of Tallinn, the University of Tartu, and the Estonian Hydrogen Association. In total, it already includes more than 30 local and international institutions, and new partners are welcome.

The group has already been working for quite some time and will now increase cooperation. Their objective is to accelerate the development of the hydrogen economy, based on renewable energy sources, to contribute to the implementation of the green transformation and to achieve Estonia’s national climate goals. The country aims to switch to 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Silicon Valley in the United States is a global centre for cutting-edge technology and innovation, whereas Hydrogen Valley Estonia will aim to develop a centre for hydrogen economy technology and innovation in our region,” says Marek Alliksoo, Head of International Projects at the Estonian Hydrogen Association coordinating the Hydrogen Valley.

The plan is to develop the world’s first national hydrogen ecosystem, which includes production units, distribution solutions, and applications, within the next six years. This will create new jobs and contribute to economic growth throughout Estonia.

Pure energy instead of pure promises

To this end, an international pilot project has been launched to test out the hydrogen bus and hydrogen refuelling in Tartu in 2025. The Deputy Mayor of Tartu, Raimond Tamm, notes that the city of Tartu is keen on participating in the creation of Hydrogen Valley Estonia to boost the hydrogen economy.

Other projects are also in full motion. “Alexela has started developing public hydrogen fuelling stations and the goal is to open the first one in Tallinn in 2024. The next steps include the expansion of the Alexela fuelling stations along the European TEN-T network and the provision of the hydrogen refuelling capacity for various types of transport and consumers in Pärnu, Tartu and Eastern Estonia,” says Marti Hääl, Chairman of the Management Board of Alexela. The company currently operates a diverse portfolio in energy, the metal industry, and property development.

Other notable contributors to the hydrogen ecosystem in Estonia include PowerUP Energy Technologies, Auve TechElcogen, and Operail. PowerUP Energy Technologies produces portable electric generators based on hydrogen fuel cells that emit no carbon dioxide, make no noise and are maintenance-free. Auve Tech is an Estonian-founded self-driving hydrogen bus producer. Elcogen develops fuel cells and provides the world’s best energy conversion processors for all manufacturers of end-user systems. Operail is an international railway company that has signed an agreement with the hydrogen solutions company Stargate Rail to convert diesel locomotives into hydrogen locomotives, saving 370 tons of CO2 per year.

The strategy and work plan for the Hydrogen Valley will be open to the public, to support the creation of synergies between the parties involved. Invest Estonia, as the main facilitator of foreign direct investments, is also stepping up to support this pivotal energy initiative.

Invest in hydrogen

“Estonians are developing and implementing a hydrogen initiative that has a huge global market potential to make all weather-dependent green energy usable anytime and everywhere,” notes Joonas Vänto, Director of Invest Estonia. “For foreign investors, it will be an extraordinary opportunity to be a part of future hydrogen business of 2.5 trillion,” Vänto encourages investors to contact Invest Estonia and discuss business opportunities.

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