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Hydrogen exports from northern Sweden

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After becoming the second largest contributor to Sweden’s GDP after the capital due to its proximity to sources of iron ore and coal, the Luleå area, in the northernmost Norrbotten county, is now seeking to capitalize on its proximity to sources of wind and hydroelectric power that can be converted to hydrogen.

The next step is to begin exporting a portion of its output.

In terms of energy, hydrogen delivers a punch. And when not produced using fossil fuels, it does not contribute to carbon pollution. According to its proponents, this makes it a crucial component in assisting large carbon polluters, such as cargo ships and steel manufacturers, to reduce their emissions.

This is something Luleå is on the verge of achieving; in recent years, a number of hydrogen-powered steel factories have sprung up. But with abundant energy resources (there are 15 hydroelectric plants and Europe’s largest on-shore wind farm in Norrbotten, accounting for 20% of Sweden’s electricity output), it is able to ensure that there is sufficient hydrogen for everyone, both domestically and internationally.

Luleå has previously shown its support for the establishment of a hydrogen manufacturing facility powered by wind turbines, which would feed the gas to industrial firms in the region or be exported for use as ship fuel. Last week, it was announced that the Swedish company managing the project, Uniper, is in the midst of locating a suitable location for a 13-hectare production facility.

The facility would serve as the hub of the BotnialänkenH2, which Luleå and Uniper refer to as a hydrogen hub that would involve the city’s port, a local energy company, shippers, and equipment manufacturers, and would supply local firms with hydrogen power, convert it to fuel for ships, and package it for export.

Uniper is already performing the preparatory work; the location of the plant is the only remaining major obstacle. If the project receives money from IPCEI, a program that finances initiatives that promote the EU’s industrial policy, it is anticipated that the facility will be operational by 2027.

Nedim Husomanovic

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