Port of Tallinn is envisioning solutions that will help reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Thanks to the collaboration with the Port of Hamburg the company is now considering shifting towards the use of hydrogen energy and have come up with three ideas that they are aiming to take action upon. The most ambitious idea out of those three requires an investment that reaches about half a billion euros.
Port of Tallinn confirms that they are ready to kickstart the hydrogen technologies value chain in Estonia. Although these three ideas that the port has come up with will primarily be beneficial to themselves, they are also looking at the bigger picture and trying to find ways of supporting other private and public sector companies interested in hydrogen technologies.
Port of Tallinn’s hydrogen strategy is beneficial to the whole country
Port of Tallinn is not just a port in the capital of Estonia. It’s the collective name for a company that owns a passenger harbour, marina, cruise ship area, cargo, shipping and real estate development.
For about a year Raimo Pirksaar, Port of Tallinn’s Chief Specialist of Energy Management and Hele-Mai Metsal, the Head of Development Department, have been contemplating how to move over to hydrogen technologies. According to Metsal, a push for coming up with those ideas came from a partner port – Port of Hamburg.
“We had been postponing dealing with large investment projects but it was the Port of Hamburg that introduced us to the possibilities of receiving European co-financing. We were also encouraged by the fact that the European Union took the Green Deal very seriously last year and has allocated many resources for it,” Metsal described.
Hamburg offered a solution that would benefit both of the ports and is in accordance with the EU’s plans. Firstly, both ports will start using hydrogen as an energy carrier and thus enable the port operator to use green energy as well. As Hamburg is the home for large production facilities they are in constant need for energy. Deals are yet to be signed but Hamburg has already expressed their interest in importing green hydrogen from Port of Tallinn.
“We learned from Hamburg that we must try to cover the whole value chain and not just limit our thinking to ourselves. We must also think about the end user, the manufacturer, the reseller, how the hydrogen gets transported etc,” Metsal added.
With the help of the Dutch Embassy in Estonia, Port of Tallinn compiled a hydrogen strategy that factors in not just the needs of the company but is beneficial to the whole country.
Three key ideas
The key ideas that both Pirksaar and Metsal are working on are as follows:
💧 Using hydrogen technologies for running the ferries that connect the mainland with the two biggest islands in Estonia.
💧 Offering energy produced from hydrogen energy storage for cruise ships at Tallinn’s Old City Harbour.
💧 Converting and building a new port terminal in either Paldiski or Muuga to turn handling and operating hydrogen into a possibility.
As TS Laevad, a sister company of Port of Tallinn, is planning on buying new ferries in the near future, the first idea seems to be the simplest. According to Pirksaar the new ferries would be hydrogen compatible from day one.
The ferries used now can be converted to run on hydrogen. In total the plan is to have three ferries operating between the two biggest islands and the mainland run on hydrogen.
When describing the idea about Tallinn’s Old City Harbour, Pirksaar mentioned that one positive side effect of onshore power supply will be a less noisy and pollution free environment for the city dwellers. The main objective is to connect all cruise ships docking at the harbour with power lines coming from the shore. The ships would turn their diesel engines off and get the needed energy from a more environmentally friendly solution. To make it a reality the company needs to upgrade the infrastructure. Using hydrogen energy storage solutions results in less amount of work and a reduced investment in the power grid.
The realisation of the third plan is much more difficult but Metsal sees no reason it should not be doable. The plan is to build a new hydrogen capable terminal in either Paldiski or Muuga port. Port of Tallinn has been in talks with the government on getting a financial incentive.
The cost of it depends on a number of factors but the ballpark figure is around half a billion euros. At first the terminal would be used to import or store hydrogen but when the production of hydrogen in Estonia exceeds the needs the terminal can be used to export it.
“This project entails a thousand hidden potentials. Western European ports have thought about hydrogen but not ports in our region. It’s hard to say at the moment when it will become a reality. The plan for the whole company is to be carbon neutral by 2050 but we hope we can achieve it way before that,” said Metsal.
As described before, the grand Paldiski or Muuga port plan takes into mind the needs of not only Port of Tallinn but other players in the field as well. It would be a source of jobs for a lot of people for many years to come.
“We need to encourage one another. If you can’t realise your plan you have to ask for help. Port of Tallinn is ready to take action right away and press the accelerator pedal to the maximum. We want Estonia to become the number one hydrogen country in the world. For that to become a reality we need the private and public sector to work together. The country itself needs to aim for that also,” she added.
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