The Baltic Sea Renewable Energy and Hydrogen Experts Roundtable (BASREHRT) cooperation project between the Swedish Institute (Svenska institutet) and Latvian and Estonian renewable energy industry representatives began with the first round table meeting on February 9. The cycle of round table discussions is devoted to the potential of renewable energy and especially hydrogen use for the development of safe and competitive electricity in the region.
The aim of the project is to create a cooperation platform around the Baltic Sea to mobilize and increase cooperation between the actors of the hydrogen and renewable energy sectors, which would lead to the identification of cross-border cooperation projects. The first round table meeting of the BASREHRT project initiated by the Swedish Institute – Latvian national framework discussion “What can we do together?” took place in Riga. It was attended by the Latvian Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, the Latvian Hydrogen Association, the Institute of Solid State Physics of the University of Latvia, AS “Latvenergo”, SIA “Schwenk Latvija”, “Conexus Baltic Grid”, SIA “Ventspils nafta” terminal, VAS “International “Rīga” airport, SIA “Rīgas satiksme”, Wind Energy Association, Latvian municipal and regional energy agencies, etc. representatives. The Swedish side was represented by the Swedish Hydrogen Association, Chalmers University of Technology, Nillsson Energy and other representatives of the renewable energy industry. Participation of representatives was provided both remotely and in person.
“In the world, the use of hydrogen technologies in energy currently undoubtedly has the greatest potential, after the possibilities of solar and wind have already proven themselves, and many leading energy companies are actively starting to use them. Therefore, hydrogen technologies are also current research projects of Latvenergo, and we are committed to be their strategic leaders in Latvia – our existing production base has a high potential for the use of hydrogen, so it can be predicted that in the foreseeable future we could already move from the research process to the green hydrogen production phase, providing more affordable renewable electricity through it,” predicts Kaspars Cikmačs, AS “Latvenergo ” Member of the Board.
“Hydrogen, as a carrier of emission-free energy and an essential element of the smart energy system, plays an important role in the decarbonization of the energy sector, filling the gap between the demand and supply of renewable energy resources, as well as promoting the achievement of the climate neutrality goals of the common sectors of the national economy,” said Aivars Starikovs, chairman of the board of the Latvian Water Harvesting Association, in the discussion. Therefore, the joint work initiated by JSC “Latvenergo”, the Institute of Solid State Physics and the Latvian Hydroelectric Association is particularly to be supported, in order to promote the transfer of applied hydrogen technologies and competence, and at the same time to develop the formation of smart energy power systems in Latvian cities and regions, as well as in industrial energy communities, as well as new business models in connection with the development of synthetic fuel production potential.
During the discussion, the next steps were also identified, where, with the involvement of the Ministries of Economy, Transport, Environmental Protection and Regional Development, they would continue to develop the announced energy community project initiatives and create a supportive regulatory base and a stimulating business environment for the decarbonization of the economic sectors.
The initiators of the BASREHRT project – the Swedish Institute and the Latvian Water Harvesting Association state that up to 75% of EU greenhouse gas emissions still occur in the energy and transport sectors. An important step in the decarbonization of this sector and the transition to carbon neutrality is the increase of storage capacity to compensate for the intermittent operation of renewable energy sources. It is necessary to ensure the power system’s ability to adapt to load dynamics in all time periods: from frequency response to annual flexibility. Storing excess electricity, for example in hydrogen, can significantly improve the integration of renewable energy sources into electricity systems.
JSC “Latvenergo” Research and Development Director Māra Balodis gave an insight into Latvenergo’s plans to implement a pilot project for obtaining and using hydrogen, in which it is planned to make investments and demonstrate technologies for mixing methane and hydrogen, installing a hydrogen electrolyzer, and implementing hydrogen for other sectors, such as public transport in the urban environment. The use of existing power plants and energy supply infrastructure in synergy with new hydrogen technologies will be important. The use of hydrogen technologies will allow to ensure the company’s sustainable development and further successful operation in the energy sector, while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions. Successful cooperation between industry, the academic sector, municipalities and state administration institutions is the basis for the development of cross-border hydrogen technology research and the attraction of funds for the creation of smart energy communities.
Therefore, collaboration and exchange of good practice from the hydrogen and renewable energy sectors in projects such as BASREHRT can be a game changer.