Analysis by Greensight, a Bergen-based consultancy, suggests that use of green renewable hydrogen in Norwegian land-based industry could cut 15% of emissions from the sector using currently available technology.   

“The technology is available and the potential for emissions reductions are enormous, but we need to make it easier for the industry to switch to clean solutions such as renewable hydrogen,” says Liv-Elisif Kalland of ZERO, a Norwegian environmental organisation working on the reduction of greenhouse gases.

“Celsa, a Norwegian company, is planning to use hydrogen as a heat source at their Mosjøen steel plant. Similar use of the gas in the aluminium industry could lead to a 10% reduction in CO2 emissions.”

– Tine Louise Trøen of Greensight

A universe of applications

Green hydrogen can replace coking coal and natural gas used for thermal processes in the metals industry; be a fuel source or means of generating heat for drying or calcification; be a chemical component in processes like polymer manufacturing; or reduce sulphur during the refinement of fossil fuels.

In Norway’s titanium industry, green hydrogen is being tested as a reducing agent, rather as it is used in SSAB’s HYBRIT project in northern Sweden. And fertiliser manufacturers are using hydrogen to make ammonia, which is the main precursor to nitrate-based fertiliser.

Emissions from Norwegian land-based industry totalled 11.4 million tonnes in 2020, but that figure could fall by at least 15% with the introduction of green hydrogen as a heat source or chemical reagent. Cutting even more is theoretically possible, but in some processes the economics do not yet stack up.

A long way to go

Still, a 1.8-million-tonne reduction in CO2 emissions thanks to green hydrogen is impressive. Achieving this drop would require the production of 520,000 tonnes of the gas each year, or 1.425 tonnes a day.

“There is still a long way to go before Norwegian industry can unleash the full potential of hydrogen. There remain big uncertainties about the price of the gas, but greater clarity could come with the introduction of contracts for difference (CfDs),” Kalland says. These involve governments pledging to make up some of the difference in price between hydrogen and conventional fuels or feedstocks.

“There are many reasons why governments should consider this option. We cannot wait for the CO2 price to rise sufficiently before investing. And early investment in a sector means you lead technological development and create value chains for technology suppliers,” Kalland says.

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