It’s no secret that Hydrogen is at the center of attention both in terms of energy independence and as possible future technology that will lead the way towards net zero emissions.
While the picture is clear in terms of where Hydrogen development is heading in the EU, it’s not always visible what happens in each of the 27 member states. This article will showcase Latvia – the pearl at the Baltic Sea and what’s the role of Hydrogen in Latvia’s Green Deal plans.
In Riga, as part of the H2Nodes project, the public transport operator “Rīgas satiksme” in the Latvian capital has introduced hydrogen fuel cell range extenders in its unified electric trolleybus system. With this pilot project of the innovative concept of “HyTrolley” trolleybuses provide greater flexibility in the transport system, less noise, zero tailpipe emissions and better energy efficiency. The trolleybuses are powered by hydrogen produced by the only hydrogen fueling station in the Baltics with a 300 kg daily output and a storage capacity of 600 kg – enough to power the 10 trolleybuses implemented within the project and several other hydrogen powered vehicles. This project kicked off practical use of hydrogen as a fuel in Latvia and the trolleybuses move daily commuters throughout Riga. Day in, day out.
However, there’s two sides of the medal here – the hydrogen station produces grey hydrogen from natural gas. Nevertheless, this is a crucial step to allow other hydrogen based projects to emerge around the use of hydrogen and the shift to green and blue will follow. How?
Latvia is taking initiative in tackling one of the most pressing challenges for the Baltic Sea region (and eventually far beyond that): marine pollution. Latvia is to implement impactful projects with partnerships among national and international stakeholders and wants to become a flagship of the blue economy.
Logically, hydrogen is on the roadmap here as well, with project initiatives ranging from ecosystem mapping, creating hydrogen valley projects, targeted decarbonization of transport and industry. Within this framework ports play a crucial role and can act as a catalyst for the transition to a blue economy. A key approach at the moment is to accelerate the green transition.
Ports are center pieces of hydrogen valleys – production, storage and demand; with extra infrastructure and distribution capacity to house innovation and industry projects and partnerships. With three key ports in Latvia – Riga, Liepaja and Ventspils, this offers excellent development opportunity and innovation capacity. First projects are starting to emerge already and hydrogen application are lined-up to be tested and piloted.
According to Natalija Pavļuha, Head of Innovation Management Department at the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, this new mission-oriented approach offers many opportunities and benefits, not only in the case of rolling-out hydrogen projects. Key aspects are:
- A framework for working with complex challenges where different stakeholders, governments, industries cooperate and global scale challenges can be solved by developing innovative policies, cooperation models and solutions.
- An EU level approach with a focus on technologies and science as a driving force behind innovations in policies and industries.
- An approach that enables seeing the complexity of the particular challenge, testing and prototyping innovative practices and solutions to reach the mission goals.
Looking further beyond the landmark trolleybus project and ports acting as central hubs for the/a hydrogen rollout – the remaining ecosystem is not dormant either. Various actors in the industry have joined efforts and created the “Hydrogen Alliance Latvia” that focuses on joint effort and collaboration to facilitate new innovation, collaboration efforts and a unified goal of promoting hydrogen as way of energy independence and as possible future technology that will lead the way towards net zero emissions. The alliance features stakeholders of all levels – SMEs, public bodies and universities with state-of-the-art R&D institutes and laboratories.
Both the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia and the Green and Smart Technology Cluster, which manages the Hydrogen Alliance Latvia are open for collaboration projects and offer both guidance in the project implementation, partnerships, support and funding.