Estonia has firmly leaned into hydrogen as the fuel of the future, Source: Depositphotos

University of Tartu: brain centre of world’s first nation-wide hydrogen valley

University of Tartu: brain centre of world’s first nation-wide hydrogen valley

The grand-scale initiative will span some 30 projects all across Estonia

This summer in Estonia was productive, especially with the July announcement that the country will create the world’s first national hydrogen valley. The latter has the ambitious aim of transitioning energy independence “from zero to green”.

That motto englobes the scope of the large-scale initiative, which will include three municipalities (Tartu, Pärnuma and Saaremaa), private sector actors and one academic partner, which will serve as the brain centre behind it – the prestigious University of Tartu.

In the next six years, the partners want to form a comprehensive nationwide hydrogen value chain to accelerate the country's green revolution. That kind of multi-faceted collaboration with a focus on hydrogen production, transformation and distribution has come to be known as a ‘hydrogen valley’ in modern parlance. And Estonia has thus made claim to having the first hydrogen valley in the world that spans a whole nation.

Betting on hydrogen as the key to energy independence

With creating the hydrogen valley, Estonia is officially taking real-life actions to become a leading GreenTech development centre and the largest producer of green energy per capita in the world,” explains Raido Lember, Business Development Manager at Invest Estonia.

Estonia’s massive offshore wind energy capacity alone allows us to become an important hydrogen exporter in the future. The upcoming infrastructure, R&D and testbeds on land, air, seas and waters shall be a playground for innovation, accelerating energy tech transformation globally.” Offshore wind parks are the main producers of hydrogen energy.

In the coming six years, green hydrogen production will be developed in at least six regions of Estonia. At the same time, the transport and storage infrastructure will also be developed, including import and export terminal infrastructure, fuelling stations and warehouses.

The hydrogen produced in Estonia will be used in public transport, heavy trucks, railways, shipping, aviation, and other modes of transport. Furthermore, it will be used as feedstock in the industry, for net balancing and heating. A large number of innovation, research and development projects are involved.

Estonia’s miracle lab

Much of the brains behind the Estonian hydrogen valley comes from the University of Tartu ecosystem and from its miracle chemistry lab,” notes Lember.

The miracle chemistry lab, to which he refers, has a complicated name – the European Centre of Excellence “Advanced materials and high-technology devices for energy recuperation systems”. However, this lab addresses cutting-edge science and technology, involving stakeholders from industry, decision-makers and society to develop functional materials for environmentally friendly sustainable energy technologies, sensors and electronics.

This lab has played an important role in deep tech development. Their discoveries have been used in Skeleton’s ultracapacitors that have four times the power density of Tesla’s,” Lember concludes.

According to him, in the coming years, it is this small Baltic country that will produce the next generation of world-class energy technologies.



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