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A hydrogen hub combines several hydrogen applications in an integrated ecosystem. Businesses share the technology and infrastructure related to hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, creating economies of scale and lowering energy costs. Ideally, all parts of the value chain are represented: hydrogen production, storage, distribution, and use.

The five hydrogen hubs awarded funding are located along Norway’s long coastline in areas with a proven track record, including strong connections to shipping, hydrogen production and other relevant industries.

Linking the Norwegian and European hydrogen corridors

Here’s the vision for 2050: Long-distance shipping and trucking are carbon neutral, thanks to green hydrogen technology. A hydrogen corridor runs the length of Norway’s coastline and connects with similar corridors in the rest of Europe. The ecosystem is well developed, with a complete value chain. The market is thriving, and prices are low.

Norway is well on its way to achieving this. “We have a proud shipping industry and a long history of hydrogen production. By combining our resources with an eco-friendly approach, we will establish our own hydrogen ecosystem and link up with hydrogen corridors in Europe,” says Ivar-Jo Theien, Senior Business Developer in hydrogen, ammonia and CCUS at Innovation Norway.

As Theien points out, though, today’s green hydrogen industry worldwide has a “chicken and egg” problem. The infrastructure to connect hydrogen production with hydrogen use is limited and polluting alternatives are cheaper, which means that there is no well-established market for green hydrogen either. One solution, at least in part, is to establish and nurture green hydrogen hubs.

Crucial seed capital to hydrogen infrastructure

Norway’s five new hydrogen hubs dot the coastline, from Agder in the far south to Glomfjord near the Arctic Circle. In between lay the other hubs at Rørvik, Hitra and Florø. The hubs will be an essential part of Norway’s clean hydrogen infrastructure and connect Norwegian players with the EU hydrogen valleys emerging in Europe.

Recently, state-funded Enova awarded a total of EUR 61 million to the hubs. It’s all part of the Norwegian government’s hydrogen strategy, which lays the foundation for Norway’s future work on hydrogen. The strategy calls for substantial funding for clean hydrogen technology and infrastructure.

Geir Ove Ropphaugen, CEO of Glomfjord Hydrogen notes that Enova funding of roughly EUR 13.4 million will help the project to break through any barriers to progress. “In Glomfjord, we are ready technically. Now we must develop the ecosystem to ensure that a robust market exists for the hydrogen. Public funding is essential to our efforts,” he explains.

It should be noted that industry investment has been there from the start. When it received the Enova award in 2023, Glomfjord Hydrogen had already secured substantial financing from its heavy-hitting owners: Greenstat, Meløy Energi, Nel and TromsKraft. The project has been under development since 2016.

Arctic hydrogen trucking corridor in the works

It’s no accident that Glomfjord was selected as the northernmost hub. In the mid-20th century, it was the site of the world’s largest production facility for green hydrogen, until lower priced grey hydrogen won out.

In the mid-20th century, it was the site of the world’s largest production facility for green hydrogen, until lower priced grey hydrogen won out.

Now green hydrogen production has returned to this same area through Glomfjord Hydrogen.

“In addition to our hydrogen expertise, we are known for renewable hydroelectric power and a well-established industrial park near the port so we can distribute hydrogen at sea and on land,” explains Ropphaugen.

The project is already technologically mature. Now the ecosystem around it must catch up. “We need to bring hydrogen to the end-users and connect everyone in the value chain,” he says. “The question is, how fast can we make this happen?”

Ropphaugen expects the largest markets to be maritime and land transport. In an exciting collaboration, the company is planning an Arctic hydrogen corridor in cooperation with several Norwegian and Swedish hydrogen and power companies. The corridor, including fuelling stations, will enable zero-emission, long-distance trucking within and between northern Norway and Sweden.

Power-to-X facility on the horizon

Thousands of kilometres to the south lies Kristiansand, a major port for maritime traffic along Norway’s coast and to the rest of Europe. The city is the ideal location for development of the Agder Hydrogen Hub, whose main focus is providing the shipping industry with renewable fuel.

“Kristiansand is one of the most interesting projects in our portfolio. In terms of shipping fuel, we see opportunities in container swapping, cascade fuelling and pipelines to the European continent,” says Frode Kirkedam, Business Development Manager at Everfuel, a co-owner of the project.

With development underway, operations are planned to start up in 2024. The hub includes the construction of a 20 MW electrolyser for green hydrogen production in phase 1. In addition to shipping, offtake opportunities are available from partners in the construction industry, trucking mobility, refuse services and taxi fleets.

In phase 2, the hub will be developed into a highly energy-efficient Power-to-X facility in which renewable energy, such as wind and solar, is used to produce green hydrogen using a 60 MW electrolyser. The hub is a joint venture between Everfuel and Greenstat and the industrial companies Elkem and Glencore Nikkelverk.

“We are trying to connect the different initiatives. Our primary goal is to expand the hydrogen refuelling stations in Europe, first for heavy trucking, and to establish a hydrogen corridor,” says Jan Erik Ødegård, Business Development Manager, also at Everfuel.

“It’s important to recognise that the shipping industry needs to move into a new phase of eco-friendly cooperation. We will be working on this for the next 15 to 20 years,” concludes Frode Kirkedam.