As of October 2023, the USA has entered a new era for hydrogen, marking a transformational change with the Department of Energy’s announcement of seven hydrogen hubs receiving $7 billion in funding through the Inflation Reduction Act. These hubs are also encouraged to collaborate with other states promising not only business expansion but also significant financial advantages which can be reaching above $40 billion by 2030. Norway, with its rich energy and hydrogen history, can benefit as well by exporting its modern technology and expertise to the USA.
Norway’s hydrogen sector has thrived, nurtured by a robust research and industrial community deeply rooted in hydrogen technology since starting the hydrogen production from hydropower at the Hydro Rjukan site in 1929. The country’s business and technical expertise have further developed through its renewable energy, maritime, and offshore oil and gas industries. This becomes evident when networking with executives and chief engineers in there.
Norwegian electrolysis emerges as a key player in advancing green hydrogen technologies, with notable newsmakers coming from Norway, including industry players such as Nel, Hystar, and HydrogenPro.
Entering the US market approximately 10 years ago, the oldest player is Nel, tracing its roots back to 1927. In 2017, Nel, specializing in alkaline electrolyzers, acquired Proton Energy Systems, a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer company in Connecticut. Among its recent achievements, Nel inaugurated a new 500-MW fully automated alkaline electrolyzer factory at Herøya, Norway, in 2022, with plans for gradual expansion up to 2 GW in response to market growth. In September 2022, Nel also announced the establishment of a 4 GW factory for alkaline and PEM electrolyzers in Plymouth Charter Township, valued at $400 million. Additionally, Nel secured a contract for 200 MW of alkaline electrolyzers, amounting to approximately $60 million, destined for a project in Ardmore, Oklahoma—this project lies beyond the hydrogen hubs awards. For reference, 1 GW electrolyzer park would produce approximately 500 tonnes per day.
In October 2023, Hystar, established in 2020 as a spin-off from the country’s research institute SINTEF, announced the commencement of construction in early 2024 for a fully automated 4 GW PEM electrolyzer factory in Høvik, Norway, slated for completion in 2025. Banking on lucrative growth and investments, the company plans to expand into North America with a multi-GW factory, establishing production in 2027.
Founded in 2013, HydrogenPro operates with a mission to design and deliver green hydrogen technology, with its headquarters and test facility situated at Herøya, Norway. Collaborating with the Austrian engineering company Andritz, HydrogenPro is engaged in a 200 MW alkaline electrolysis plant for a green fuel project in Kristinestad, Finland, as part of a Power-to-X FEED project supplying fuel to Germany.
All three companies mentioned above are members of the Norwegian Hydrogen Forum, which recently conducted a survey titled “The Norwegian Hydrogen Landscape,” identifying 126 hydrogen projects underway in the country. The number of projects has doubled since its last report in 2021. On the production side, 51 projects aim to produce hydrogen or hydrogen derivatives, primarily ammonia. Of these, 47 are renewable hydrogen production projects, with a projected capacity exceeding 4 GW by 2030. Four other projects involve blue hydrogen generated by steam reforming of natural gas, projected to maintain approximately 50% of the total production.
The survey is complemented by an interactive map on the page, enabling users to hover over the map and access key information about the projects. This tool is highly valuable, easing numerous requests for assistance in finding Norwegian partners by local and international companies. While projects are distributed across the country, most are situated along the extensive Norwegian coast, catering to off-takers in the large maritime sector, local industry, and facilitating trade with Europe. The organization boasts over 90 members and has doubled its membership in the past few years. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2021, the Forum is a seasoned player in the field.
This concludes my Nordic Notes series, reflecting on my recent trip to Norway, where I had the opportunity to meet with executives and immerse myself in the country’s expansive hydrogen innovation landscape. Stemming from its rich technological history and abundant hydropower and wind resources, Norway’s entrepreneurial Viking expansion is now making a significant impact in Europe and North America, but this time it is greenly welcomed.