Hydrogen: A new industry for the low-carbon energy transition in Arctic Norway
Hydrogen (both blue and green) is expected to play a key role globally in order to reach the 2015 Paris Agreement target of limiting the global average temperature increase to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels (IEA, 2021). Blue hydrogen is produced using natural gas as a feedstock in combination with carbon capture storage (CCS) technology, while green hydrogen is produced using water as a feedstock through electrolysis, powered by renewable energy. In recognition of its importance in reducing GHG emissions, both domestically and internationally, the Norwegian government released its first Hydrogen Strategy report on 3rd June 2020. Since the release of the report, a number of hydrogen-related projects were initiated in Arctic Norway (Nordland county, Troms and Finnmark county and the Svalbard Archipelago). Using these initiatives as empirical studies, this PhD project aims to examine the prospects of a new industry based on blue and green hydrogen export in Arctic Norway from a social-technical perspective.
The sudden emergence of hydrogen initiatives in Arctic Norway calls for the need to investigate the social impacts of the various hydrogen projects in Arctic Norway. This entails understanding the perspectives at the local community level and identifying possible tensions between the various sectors like the maritime sector, fisheries sector, electricity sector and energy export sector, which in turn can contribute to overcoming the barriers for accelerating a low-carbon energy transition. Adopting a critical social science approach, this PhD project seeks to unravel the social and political relations that underpin the existing basic structure of the regime (Neuman, 2014). It is the hope of this PhD project to provide valuable insights to the Norwegian policymakers that will facilitate better support for a sustainable energy transition in Arctic Norway as well as in the rest of Norway. Last but not least, contributing to the interdisciplinary approach in ARC, this PhD project could serve as a basis for future research investigating the potential development for Norway to become a leader in low-carbon hydrogen export and has the potential to be at the forefront of critical social science research on the subject.
The three initiatives that would be understudied in the PhD project are the Green Ammonia Berlevåg project, the Barents Blue project, and the Glomfjord Hydrogen project. The Green Ammonia Berlevåg project is a collaboration between Aker Clean Hydrogen and Varanger Kraft, to produce green hydrogen and ammonia (a hydrogen-based fuel) in Berlevåg, using electricity generated from the wind farm in nearby Raggovidda. The green ammonia is expected to be used for fuelling ships in the Arctic as well as providing the opportunity to power the energy system in remote Svalbard in replacement of its aging coal-fired power plant (Larson, 2021). The Barents Blue project is undertaken by Horisont Energi with Equinor being a key partner. Taking place in Hammerfest, the project aims to be the first factory in Europe to produce blue hydrogen and ammonia at large scale. Lastly, the Glomfjord Hydrogen project is led by Glomfjord Hydrogen AS, which is a joint-venture between Greenstat AS, NEL ASA, Meløy Energi AS and Troms Kraft AS. Partnering with Air Liquide from France, the hydrogen factory is expected to produce hydrogen in compressed and liquified form, which will serve to fuel hydrogen ferries between Bodø and Lofoten (Vestfjorden), which are expected to be in operation as early as 2025 (FuelCellsWorks, 2021).
The PhD project aims to address the following research questions:
- RQ1. What are the prospects of blue and green hydrogen in Norway as an energy export?
- RQ2. What are the nature and implications of the interactions between hydrogen and other regimes such the natural gas, electricity and maritime regimes in Arctic Norway?
- RQ3. What are the drivers and barriers for accelerating the phase-out of blue hydrogen by green hydrogen?
- FuelCellsWorks. (2021, March 23). Norway: Troms Kraft Joins Glomfjord Hydrogen. https://fuelcellsworks.com/investor-news/norway-troms-kraft-joins-glomfjord-hydrogen/
- IEA. (2021). Net Zero by 2050: A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector. https://www.iea.org/reports/net-zero-by-2050
- Larson, T. (2021, June 8). Full speed ahead for onshore green ammonia production in Norway. https://www.wartsila.com/insights/article/full-speed-ahead-for-onshore-green-ammonia-production-in-norway
- Neuman, W. L. (2014). Social research methods : qualitative and quantitative approaches (7th ed.). Pearson.