Swedish Hydrogen Association Vätgas Sverige, Estonian Association of Hydrogen Technologies – EAHT and Latvian Hydrogen Association built up the first Round Table in the frame of BASREHRT project granted by the Swedish Institute on the 9th of February. Björn Aronson, the managing director of Vätgas Sverige opened the common TEAMS session with an introduction about the project’s general idea and principles of involving major actors in three countries around the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Experts Roundtable is devoted to initiating a common platform to work with top-level, highly qualified experts in the field of renewable energy sources and hydrogen. The work is aimed towards climate mitigation via decarbonisation of the economies by introducing innovative technologies,efficient energy carrier, hydrogen, and building common infrastructure for wider deployment of wind and solar energy.

The first hour of the Round Table was hosted by three Swedish keynote speakers, top experts in the field who gave short introductory lectures about the progress they have made in their field of research and/or implementation into practice hydrogen based solutions. Martina Wettin, Market and PR Director/ Founding Partner of Nilsson Energy being an active Member of the EU Instrument European Clean Hydrogen Alliance Roundtables on Buildings, also a turnkey renewable energy system solutions integrator with proven track-record utilising green and decentralised hydrogen as an energy carrier. Dr. Anders Nordelöf, working in Chalmers University of Technology is the research theme leader within the Swedish Electromobility Center, the national competence center for electromobility. Anders’ research investigates how technologies for electric propulsion change the environmental impacts of road vehicles, ships and aircrafts, using life cycle assessment (LCA) and other environmental systems analysis tools applied for long-term sustainability. Dr. Mats W Lundberg, head of sustainability at Sandvik Group, board member of Metacon AB. He has a broad knowledge in fuel cells, hydrogen and electromobility from system level down to individual atoms. He was the initiator of Sweden’s fourth hydrogen filling station in Sandviken. Being a frequent speaker on the hydrogen society, he is a passionate believer in sustainable mobility and does not believe in silver bullet solutions.

After the first hour spent together with key-note speakers in TEAMS, the convened ~70 stakeholders of Round Table splitted into the national working groups. In the Estonian one 17 stakeholders represented the following institutions; the ministries of Finance, Environment, also Economy and communication, Tartu University, Tallinn University of Technology, Gaasivõrk, Eesti Gaas, Port of Tallinn, LTH-Baas, Sunly, Stargate Hydrogen, Utilitas, Estonian Energy, Estonian Wind Power Association, Sunly, Saare Wind Energy and Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority.   

Discussion was moderated by Ain Laidoja, the Managing Director of the Estonian Association of Hydrogen Technologies. He started with sharing his screen with the diagramm on Sector Coupling.    

As one could follow, almost all sectors were represented in the 1. Round Table.This gave the experts from different sectors a good start to build up the working contacts. 

Firstly, the off-shore wind potential was at the centre of discussions. Estonia needs large-scale renewable energy capacities as soon as possible, and the offshore wind farms are realistic solutions to that.

During the last decade the potential interest was around 22 GW what stakeholders assessed consensually to be too high.The overall capacity of the Baltic Sea area reaches 90 GW, said A. Zavadskis, the representative of Utilitas. Stakeholders reached the common position that It could be probable, Estonia reaches 7 GW. However, the realistic present day number was revealed by the Estonian Wind Power Association summing up to roughly 4000 MW. The number is based on the initiated by developers superficies licence process including the following   Environmental Impact Assessment and possible requested studies. As a result the discussion between the wind developers clarified that in the case of roughly overestimated 18 GW of submitted applications the superficies licence process has not started. Prof. E. Lust from Tartu University calmed down  the hot discussion saying, it all depends on availability of existing grids and their capacities, also in particular on the new grids to be built. Grid sets the limits and it’s not sure we’ll be able to build all needed gridlines. At present Saare Wind Energy OÜ has the favourite position in the  race with it’s 1400 MW wind farm in the southwestern coast of Saaremaa island. The project also includes the construction of a transmission system with a connection to the Estonian onshore grid

Moderator raised to focus two terms Excess electricity ja Wind Curtailment and asked the stakeholders to open their content. The common attitude was reached, different kinds of storages will be needed to avoid losses of electricity in the case of over-generation. Out of which the most realistic are  firstly, to store electricity in the form of hydrogen, and secondly to build a pump-hydro power station. To produce hydrogen from off-shore wind based electricity there are at least two options, to build sea-bottom cables and bring the electricity to shore. Or to apply electrolysers on board of a wind turbine and bring the hydrogen molecules to shore. R. Küngas representing company Stargate Hydrogen introduced the development work of hydrolysers applied to off-shore wind turbines. He stated the development of electrolysers applicable straight to off-shore wind turbines is in the phase of starting position yet and therefore they see a good prospective to go on with their pioneering development work. Also, K-M. Järvekald representing company LTH-Baas announced they are working in the same direction. He said we do hope to reach our target set till the end of the present decade.

The moderator raised an issue of gas infrastructure and introduced  the  European Hydrogen Backbone, (EHB) aimed to supply the whole of Europe with hydrogen and thus propose an efficient alternative to fight  climate warming via reaching carbon neutrality. EHB announces the expansion of its membership base now reaching 29 operators covering 27 European countries.

The representative of Gaasivõrgud, R. Bogdanovitš explained the current technical situation with the Estonian gas grid and questioned the planned EHB pipeline location design in Pärnu direction. R.Kotov representing Eesti Gaas shared his  colleague’s point of view. In addition he pointed out the latest news from Brussel to classify natural gas and nuclear energy sustainable energies. Majority of stakeholders were ashamed about the EC’s decision. E. Lust announced that the existing natural gas grid is by no means technically able to be used for transporting hydrogen as the leakage and corrosion pose a real problem. Majority of pipelines are too old and warned out, they are not usable for hydrogen.     

T. Kallaste raised an issue about the role of the public sector and asked Mrs. L. Roosimägi, representing the permitting department of  the Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority, to explain the present situation with off-shore wind farms. She gave a good overview of the status with the developers currently involved in the  superficies licence process. In case these five shall not receive any restrictive precriptions in EIA procedure the permitting procedure could continue and finally end up with issuing the construction permit.  

To summarise the first Round Table the moderator shared his screen to demonstrate the huge increase in hydrogen and renewables, wind and solar in business newspaper Äripäev. It seems Estonia has reached the turning point both in understanding the need for much wider deployment of major renewables, wind and solar to produce green electricity and based on that production of green hydrogen for the sake of saving the climate. 

The BASREHRT’s first Round Table brought together major actors in the field of off-shore wind parks and hydrogen. Experts from various sectors got to know each other, also the spheres of engagement. It has been vitally needed to aquaintant top experts to each other and form the common platform for the further cooperation. Amongst many other issues the stakeholders revealed the need to get more open information about the TCO plans to increase the capacity of electrical grid for off-shore wind farms in pipe.   

Many thanks to all stakeholders! 

We’ll meet  at the next Round Table on 28th of April!