TALLINN – The joint institution of Enterprise Estonia (EAS) and Kredex is about to provide, through a program in applied research, an additional 10 million euros towards projects of Estonian companies that contribute to cooperation in the format of important projects of common European interest (IPCEI) in the hydrogen value chain.
Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Andres Sutt described movement towards climate neutrality and the various energy solutions that support it as more important now than ever before.
"Russia's aggression in Ukraine clearly demonstrates the need to reduce the dependence of EU member states on energy products from third countries and to increase Europe's capacity to produce clean energy," Sutt said in a press release.
He said that as far as is known, hydrogen is the only energy storage medium that allows for very wide integration between different sectors, such as thermal energy and transport. However, the wider deployment of hydrogen first requires investment in research and development, and then in production.
According to the minister, it is important that high-tech investments that look to the future, create high-paying jobs and play an important role in European value chains receive additional attention from the state.
"With the specificity created in the applied research program, we have started this," he added.
The program in applied research is one of the most important national support instruments for promoting research and development by businesses, including in the field of hydrogen. Applied research provides input to businesses for the development and production of new technologies, such as electrolysis, storage methods and fuel cells.
In addition to the grant round for applied research that is open to everyone, hydrogen technology companies involved in collaborative projects of Europe-wide significance and awaiting approval by the European Commission can also apply for funding from the dedicated round of a total of 10 million euros.
Madis Raukas, the head of the applied research program at the EAS and Kredex joint institution, said the IPCEI round will support projects with high impact and potential that would help accelerate the deployment of hydrogen energy and technologies in Estonia and in Europe in general.
"Besides, in the future our companies will be able to play a role in the creation of the EU hydrogen value chain and partner with other multinational companies. Europe's goal is to create a comprehensive chain -- production, storage, distribution and consumption -- and Estonia should have significant opportunities to contribute to it," Raukas said.
According to the joint institution, hydrogen supports progress towards a low-carbon economy, and all of Europe is contributing to its development today, with different strategies and action plans set out and money invested in cooperation and projects that enable their implementation. Estonia also has a national hydrogen roadmap being prepared in cooperation between the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of the Environment.
IPCEI brings together public and private sector activities to carry out large, value chain based cooperation projects and to contribute to exports, the growth and competitiveness of the EU economy. Hydrogen development projects are co-financed by the European Union Regional Development Fund.