Hydrogen in Norway

Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru gave this speech at the Norwegian Hydrogen Conference in Oslo on June 3rd 2020.

Ladies and gentlemen, and good friends of the Hydrogen-industry,

It is a great pleasure to be here at the Norwegian Hydrogen Conference, and thank you so much for having me. 

I'm glad that the COVID-19 pandemic did not prevent you from hosting this important event.

And - as the great number of participants at this seminar shows, there is a strong interest for hydrogen in Norway. We see the same trend in Europe and around the world.

In order to be prepared for the future role of hydrogen in the energy mix, the Norwegian Government has been working on a new national hydrogen strategy. The first of its kind here in Norway.

But why hydrogen – and why do we need a hydrogen strategy?

Well the answers to those two questions might seem simple.  But if things were always simple in life – we would not need to spend time and dedication solving the complex issues facing our future.

And let me be clear – introducing a new fuel. 

  • That yet has to be matured when it comes to technology.
  • That has an almost non-existing infrastructure.
  • With an almost non-existing market.
  • In a world shaken by the pandemic.

Well there are easier things to deal with. I can promise you that. 

So - What is the story of hydrogen – in the new strategy we are proposing?

Well I see it as a story of hope.  A hope for a new world with low emissions. A hope for a disruptive change.  A hope for new industry and new jobs within a green future.

And I share these hopes.

And this is the story of Hydrogen that I want to share with you today. 

How we can use our brand new Hydrogen strategy as a steppingstone for this future.

The world is changing fast. Technologies, markets, communication, education, politics, energy use. The climate – is changing right before our eyes. And we must cope.

In Europe this is clearly demonstrated by the European Green Deal, which was presented by the EU-Commission in December. The Green Deal is a set of policy initiatives aimed at making Europe climate neutral in 2050

The Norwegian government has set a target of reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 90 to 95 percent compared with 1990-levels by 2050 as well.

The use of clean hydrogen can contribute to Norway reducing its emissions and reaching our climate targets. While at the same time creating new green jobs.

This depends on hydrogen becoming competitive and attractive for businesses to invest in.

The Norwegian government will do its part. And we have recently proposed a substantial increase in funding for hydrogen related technologies. For new trials and piloting new solutions. This represents a clear shift in policy.  Funding gone from - the careful to the substantial.

The Norwegian hydrogen strategy has been created to form a common understanding of the situation for Hydrogen in Norway.  A sort of a common baseline.

It will detail three main issues

Firstly: Where we are today.

  1. How is the production capacity?
  2. What is the market like?
  3. How safe is it?

Secondly: What is the future for Hydrogen in Norway.

  1. The future within transport
  2. The future within industry
  3. And - how future technology and research can solve issues holding the widespread use of hydrogen back

Thirdly: How is the international context of hydrogen.

  1. There are substantial European ambitions
  2. There is a concerted international cooperation
  3. There are clear Nordic perspective for Hydrogen

Our aim – when creating this strategy is to create a public position.  Where the government gives the green light- so to say - in order to explore the paths for Hydrogen as a fuel of the future.

And earlier this morning, my good colleague. The Minister of Climate and Environment, Sveinung Rotevatn and myself, officially presented the Norwegian government's new hydrogen strategy.

Because our two ministries have shared responsibility for this strategy. 

For clean hydrogen production, Norway has several advantages that we must build on:

We have a power system based almost entirely on flexible hydropower. In normal years we produce more than we consume. Furthermore, we have the potential to produce more power from other renewable energy sources.  Such as onshore wind power, or, in a longer perspective, offshore wind power.

We are also the third largest exporter in the world of natural gas. In order to produce clean hydrogen from natural gas, CCS is a prerequisite. And Norway is in the forefront of CCS technologies.

Today, high production costs, and immature production technology make hydrogen costly.

For green hydrogen, the cost of electrolysers must come down, while the energy efficiency in production must come up.

  • The Government supports these developments through existing programmes such as EnergiX and Pilot-E, and we have increased funding of these programs just recently.

For blue hydrogen, carbon capture and storage must be developed.

  • The Government is actively contributing to this development through the Climit programme. And through the Technology Centre at Mongstad and not least - the Norwegian fullscale CCS project. That includes storage of CO2 on our continental shelf.

When it comes to transportation, with larger vehicles over longer distances, batteries are still likely to be too heavy. Reducing load-capacity and giving them bad fuel efficiency.

And Norwegian companies like ASKO and Ruter are currently testing hydrogen trucks and buses.

However the potential for green value creation is greatest in the maritime sector. Where Norway could become a world leader within green shipping technology.

Several exciting maritime hydrogen projects are in the pipeline in Norway. Let me mention some of them:

  • In 2021 Norled will start operating a hydrogen-electric ferry on the Hjelmeland ferry connection in Rogaland, powered by 50 percent liquid hydrogen and 50 percent batteries. It is built at a shipyard in my home county of Rogaland.
  • The Havyard Group is leading a project for emission-free operations in the World Heritage fjords, and on parts of the regular route for the "Hurtigruten" – or Coastal Steamer, by combining batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.
  • The Trøndelag county council has a hydrogen development project for high-speed passenger ferries to replace obsolete ferries in the years to come.

Through the green restructuring package presented last Friday, we are strengthening several support-schemes further. And as I mentioned - This represents a clear shift in policy.  Funding has gone up from - the careful to the substantial.

The state enterprise Enova is a key instrument, seeing its funding increased by two billion Norwegian crowns for the next three years. Enova supports pilot and demonstration projects, industrial development related to hydrogen in all sectors of the economy. 

Furthermore, an action plan to strengthen green public procurement, is also under way. And will ensure we get new contracts for new hydrogen solutions.

In addition, we have proposed to strengthen the dedicated support schemes for development of zero-emission high-speed passenger ships along the coast.

The Hydrogen strategy has this vast potential.  Of becoming a hydrogen powerhouse within green shipping - as a big chapter in our story of hydrogen here in Norway. 

Today, hydrogen is mainly produced with fossil fuels such as natural gas, without CCS. Known as grey Hydrogen.

In Norway, this form of hydrogen is predominantly used for refining petroleum products and manufacturing chemicals such as fertilizers. Clean hydrogen can play a role here, and can also potentially be used as a reducing agent.

On example of such use is the company TiZir's / and their project in Tyssedal on the west coast of Norway. Supported by public funding, the goal is to use hydrogen as a reducing agent instead of coal in the production of titanium and iron.

Another example of use within the heavy manufacturing industry is Yara and NEL – they have a joint project with the aim of using green hydrogen to produce ammonia for fertilizer production.

This is an important part of the Hydrogen story.  Where heavy industrial plants use Hydrogen to cut emissions and to secure jobs.

The key cost driver for green hydrogen is the cost of power when producing it. In Norway, power used for electrolysis is already tax exempt. Giving us a comparative edge – as well as electricity being cheaper here in general - than in the rest of Europe.

Hydrogen production from small-scale hydropower or wind power. With limited, or no grid connection may also be an alternative in some areas of Norway.

One example of this is The HAEOULUS demonstration project. Connected to the Raggovidda wind power plant in the High North of Norway. It is an example of hydrogen production from so called "locked-in power".

This might be a small sidestep in the story of Hydrogen here in Norway today.  But in the future it might become a more widely used solution – as production technology improves – and smaller communities eye the possibility of being self-sufficient with much of their energy needs.

However - a prerequisite for using hydrogen is that it is safe and secure.

Experience gathered through hydrogen projects are important to further develop rules and regulations.

We will continue to support the development of rules and regulations nationally, and internationally. This goes for both hydrogen itself and hydrogen-based solutions within different sectors.

International cooperation is key to developing a global hydrogen market.

Therefore, we are actively engaged in a number of international initiatives. We also have frequent dialogue on hydrogen with other countries and the EU.

In the bigger picture - this part of the story of Hydrogen – is crucial.  We need partners, projects and pilots within this international framework to succeed.  The strategy we have put forward underlines this international cooperation.  And also describes how common Nordic initiatives are followed up.

In Norway we have key competence and experience from the renewable sector, the petroleum sector, the industrial sector and the maritime sector, forming a solid foundation for taking hydrogen to the next level.

I see the story of Hydrogen in our new strategy - to be a future fuel in the zero-emission world we strive to achieve.

I have shared with you many of the opportunities we have – the experiences we can rely on - and the increased ambitions of the government.

But as the famous Uncle Sam posters from the world wars echoed.  I want you!

I want you to be ambitious and to use this occasion wisely.

I want you to see new potential and new possibilities.

I want you to bring forward new projects.

I want you to invest with us for success. 

We have secured funding that has gone up from - the careful to the substantial.

Now we need the many big and small projects that can take the story of Hydrogen further.

The strategy we presented today have set the stage for this.  Now let the play begin!

Thank you for your attention!