Latvia has significant hydrogen energy potential, charts the way

  • 2024-07-10
  • Armands Gūtmanis, Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Climate Neutrality Cluster 2050

Latvia has significant potential in the hydrogen economy and should therefore exploit the opportunities for its development at home and in the European Union through cooperation between the public and private sectors, concludes a new study by leading experts in several related fields.

"The potential is based on the availability of local resources – it is possible to produce hydrogen using solar and wind energy, biomass or biogas. Latvia is also well located between Finland and Germany, where a hydrogen gas transport infrastructure is planned," says study leader Dr. oec. Justs Dimants, who has devoted his PhD thesis in economics to the study of hydrogen opportunities.

The Information Report on the Need for Strategic Hydrogen Development in Latvia until 2030 was presented on 4 July. The report, which aims to support public institutions in their work on a national hydrogen economic development framework, will be submitted to the relevant ministries.

Recommendations for the Strategic Framework

The background report is based on the expert survey conducted in February and March 2024 and the focus group discussions held on 6 June. They developed a number of action lines for a strategic framework for hydrogen development in Latvia.

"In the coming years, significant changes are needed in Latvian legislation to implement various directives and regulations related to hydrogen and its market, as well as to remove barriers to hydrogen market development," states Armands Gutmanis, Chairman of the Board of the Latvian Climate Neutrality Cluster 2050 and one of the initiative's participants.

The hydrogen economy can become a driving force to decarbonise Latvia's energy sector, diversify energy supply, promote sustainable energy and make Latvia a significant player in the European Union in the early stages of the hydrogen economy. "A necessary condition is that Latvia's position in the supply chain of the hydrogen economy must be strategically justified at national level," emphasises A. Gutmanis.

"Therefore, it can be said that Latvia needs a national strategy for the development of the hydrogen economy, as it can become an important instrument in diversifying the country's energy supply, including reducing dependence on traditional energy sources," says Mr Gutmanis. Such a strategy would contribute to achieving climate goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting sustainable development.

Linking to European infrastructure

If Latvia were to make a strategic decision to develop hydrogen energy, it would be possible to use the existing methane infrastructure, the location of which could also serve the needs of hydrogen transmission system development. This would create a link with Estonia and Lithuania, and indirectly with other EU Member States. "Overall, the hydrogen economy in Latvia is at an early stage of development," says Mr Dimants.

It is necessary to create the elements of a hydrogen economy ecosystem by 2030, creating an environment where renewable resources can be used to their maximum. This can be achieved through close cooperation between the public and private sectors.

The hydrogen economy can contribute to technological innovation, the development of sustainable energy, reducing dependence on energy imports and reducing the negative impact of greenhouse gases on the environment.

Hydrogen as a complement to the renewable energy sector

"Kaspars Avots, CEO of BalticHydrogenGroup, comments that the company does not see hydrogen as competing with other renewable energy sources. "By planning wisely together, an efficient and independent green energy ecosystem can be created. Latvia is not lagging behind, but we need to act now!"

K. Avots points out that hydrogen is already a component of all e-fuels. "We call for a broader assessment of green hydrogen production. Electrolysis will allow us to use the large planned energy capacities to their full potential and to store energy. Pyrolysis and gasification are a way to dispose of biogenic and all organic waste. At the same time, the new technologies completely eliminate CO2 emissions by capturing carbon in the solid fraction, a valuable modern raw material."

"We will take the opportunity to learn from the example of other countries, as we are doing ourselves by involving our technicians and engineers in the construction of hydrogen projects in Sweden and Slovakia," says Mr Avots.

"BalticHydrogenGroup aims to build six production plants, storage, logistics chain and 23 filling stations covering the whole territory of Latvia by 2028. "At the same time, we are looking very much in the direction of other committed hydrogen project developers for cooperation. Together it would be easier," says K. Avots.

Looking for cooperation partners in Europe

Hydrogen technologies play an important role in achieving the common goals of transitioning to sustainable and green energy and decarbonising sectors of the economy. Both national plans and ministerial strategies are therefore important.

"To demonstrate our commitment to these goals, it is important to back up words with action, where in addition to the EU-funded hydrogen projects already underway in Latvia, we are proud to announce that Latvia will host the European Hydrogen Valley Conference and Tech Tour investor event on 5 and 6 September," says Ģirts Greiskalns, Chairman of the Latvian Hydrogen Association.

The event will bring together more than 20 hydrogen valleys from all over Europe to share their experiences and success stories, as well as to seek investors and inform them about investment opportunities. The event will also bring together more than 30 hydrogen start-ups seeking partnerships to develop and promote hydrogen technologies in Latvia and across Europe. "Only together can we promote innovative and sustainable energy solutions that will benefit both our economy and the environment," says Ģ. Greiskalns.

The authors of the information report also consulted the planning documents of the nearest neighbouring countries, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland. The activities of the Liepaja and Ventspils municipalities, Riga Airport, the Freeport of Riga, Riga Technical University and several companies in the field of hydrogen have been commended.