After finally landing electricity bill relief for most Norwegians, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre could also announce state investment of more than NOK 1 billion in projects that will produce and use hydrogen as an energy source. Three major companies behind the industrial projects will use hydrogen as part of Norway’s efforts to move away from fossil fuels and fight climate change.
Støre has been promoting more use of hydrogen, not least at the recent UN Climate Summit in Glasgow. “What we’re doing here today is delivering on marching orders from the climate summit in Glasgow, where the message we got was to turn words into action,” Støre said, adding that the projects can also both cut emissions and create jobs.
The state energy investment company Enova will distribute up to NOK 283 million to industrial firm Yara Norge (in which the state also holds a major stake), NOK 261 million to TiZir Titanium and Iron, and NOK 482 million to Horisont Energi. State broadcaster NRK reported that another NOK 1.6 billion has also been allocated to the three companies’ hydrogen projects through the research council Forskningsrådet, Innovation Norway, Enova itself and Gassnova, triggering an additional NOK 2 billion from the business sector.
Hydrogen has been launched as an alternative to electric motors, gasoline, oil and natural gas. When used as fuel, its steam generates the only emissions and is therefore viewed as climate-friendly as long as it’s produced through a low-emission process. Yara, for example, plans to use hydrogen in its production of ammonia at its Herøya plant in Porsgrunn, southwest of Oslo, and to produce emissions-free fuel for shipping and carbon-free fertilizer for agriculture.
TiZir, meanwhile, is running a project in Tyssedal that would use hydrogen instead of coal in production of iron, through a process that can cut emissions not only in Norway but also internationally. Its project is one of the first from Norway to be included as an IPCEI (Important Project of Common European Interest) project for industrial use of hydrogen and can be a prototype for others.
Horisont Energi is working with state oil company Equinor and Vår Energi to build a full-scale plant called Barents Blue for low-emission ammonia production outside Hammerfest. The project will use new and energy-efficient technology in connection with access to gas and the capture and storage of carbon dioxide. The ammonia can be an important and green source of energy in several sectors, also within shipping and process industry.
Reaction to the hydrogen plans was positive, with environmental organization Bellona calling them “extremely important” for the development of a hydrogen industry in Norway and Europe. The projects chosen represent industries and technology needed to reach Norway’s climate coals, said Frederic Hauge of Bellona.
“Production and use of low-emission hydrogen must occur in tandem,” Hauge said. “Enova has understood that, and this gives the project portfolio high demonstration value both in Norway and Europe.”
Espen Barth Eide, Støre’s government minister in charge of environmental and climate issues, said the “transition to a zero-emission future” demands implementation of climate and industrial policy. “The government wants Norway to succeed at grabbing opportunies in the green shift,” Eide said. Government funding of serious projects can help that happen, he noted.