In the ever-evolving landscape of technological innovation, one Estonian company is taking on the energy transition issues at a scale. PowerUp Energy Technologies, which builds hydrogen-based generators, is rewriting the playbook on power generation and distribution. Estonia, the country with the world-first nationwide Hydrogen Valley, is the perfect place for that.
With the global rise in demand for large battery banks, PowerUp envisions a greener solution for consumers. Their hydrogen-based energy systems offer a smaller, lighter, and more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional battery banks. Thanks to cooperation with the European Space Agency, PowerUp’s transformative journey takes them into space exploration.
Powering Estonia’s connectivity
PowerUp’s journey towards reshaping energy solutions began well over 15 years ago when CEO Ivar Kruusenberg started his scientific studies on fuel cells. In 2016, Kruusenberg went to the US for post-doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley, Silicon Valley.
Years of hard work have started to pay off. In 2022, the company started a collaboration with one of Estonia’s leading telecommunications companies, Telia, aimed to test the capabilities of PowerUp’s solution in real-world conditions. A cell tower’s backup energy is normally provided by diesel generators, whereas PowerUp produces hydrogen generators. The two-part pilot has been successful. Demonstrating the generators’ ability to provide instant backup power during blackouts caused by harsh weather conditions.
PowerUp’s generators are scalable, and this was also tested during the pilot. The success of the Telia partnership has spurred PowerUp to explore broader horizons. PowerUp has been in constant consultation with the telecom giant and other telco companies during the design process for the next iteration of their product line.
PowerUp envisions a future in which its innovative hydrogen generators become the cornerstone of energy security for critical infrastructure. By developing generators with higher output power, they aim to cater not only to Estonia but also to other countries seeking greener energy solutions. The ongoing talks with Telia promise an exciting future, one where Estonia and Telia could pioneer the integration of hydrogen and green energy solutions across Europe and the world.
PowerUp’s ambition to redefine energy solutions has led them to explore partnerships beyond Estonia’s borders. They are currently engaged in a similar project with Tele2, another major telecommunications company. The success of their pilots has laid the foundation for discussions on a wider overhaul of backup power solutions at cell towers.
The future of energy security and venturing beyond Estonia
PowerUp has garnered additional interest from telcos outside Estonia, reflecting the global shift towards hydrogen solutions and renewable energy storage. According to the company’s representative, there are discussions underway with telcos from outside the EU, more specifically from the US, Japan, India, and Turkey.
One of their notable international projects involves collaboration with Estonia’s Environmental Investment Centre (KIK) to develop fuel cell generators for testing in Pakistan’s National Radio and Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC). This endeavour highlights the global relevance and appeal of PowerUp’s innovative energy solutions.
PowerUp’s main clientele currently comprises telecommunications companies, military organisations, and governmental institutions. Their generators offer backup power for critical infrastructure, ensuring uninterrupted communication services during power outages. As they develop generators with varying power outputs, PowerUp expects to expand into markets with different energy requirements.
Their generators are also compatible with solar panels and batteries, making them ideal for off-grid power solutions, providing full power autonomy. Additionally, they have recreational applications, such as powering camper vans and sailing boats, further diversifying their potential customer base.
At present, PowerUp produces 400W and 1kW modular generators that can be combined for higher power output. Their development team is working on a 2.5kW modular generator, which will cater to markets with higher energy demands. This development is funded by KIK and is expected to hit the market soon.
Currently, PowerUp’s largest modular system can generate up to 6kW. However, ongoing development aims to create a 19-inch rack solution with a net power output of 10kW, demonstrating their commitment to continuous improvement and innovation.
Collaboration with the European Space Agency
One of the most notable collaborations in PowerUp’s portfolio is with the European Space Agency. This partnership focuses on developing fuel cells for the Moon and Mars missions. PowerUp is working on a lightweight fuel cell stack targeting an impressive 1 kW/kg power-to-weight ratio, a significant milestone in space technology.
These fuel cells will serve as alternative energy sources when solar power or batteries are insufficient, allowing rovers to operate seamlessly during missions. The project is currently undergoing rigorous testing at the Joint Research Commission facility in the Netherlands, adhering to stringent European Cooperation for Space Standardisation guidelines.
By integrating fuel cells with batteries, PowerUp aims to reduce the reliance on extensive battery capacities while providing recyclable and renewable energy solutions. The global shift towards hydrogen infrastructure makes hydrogen fuel cells a promising option for consumers and businesses alike.
PowerUp takes its environmental responsibility seriously. Their products produce no waste or CO2 emissions during use. Furthermore, they are committed to recycling and reusing components of their generators. PowerUp collects used generators from customers at the end of their lifecycle to ensure responsible disposal and recycling.