Port of Tallinn looking to convert ferries to hydrogen fuel

Muuga Harbor.
Muuga Harbor. Source: AS Tallinna Sadam

Listed Estonian port company Tallinna Sadam (Port of Tallinn) is looking for the best ways to convert ferries to hydrogen fuel and to provide hydrogen refueling capacity for cruise ships in the Old City Harbor of Tallinn.

The company has unveiled an ambitious plan to lay out the hub of the Baltic Sea green infrastructure in Estonia together with its partners, which would contribute to Estonia's climate neutrality goals and increase the country's competitiveness. 

Port of Tallinn said in a press release on Monday that it plans to focus more and more on creating a green energy ecosystem in the industrial parks of Muuga Harbor and Paldiski South Harbor.

"The wind farm service campus could be built in these ports in the future. Also, the plan of building a hydrogen terminal could be attractive for the industries that do not produce energy themselves, but would like to take part in the green revolution and rebuild their production. We are developing an attractive value proposition for both local and international investors," Margus Vihman, member of the management board and chief commercial officer of Port of Tallinn, said.

"The European Green Deal, ambitious climate goals and hydrogen strategy create a very good opportunity to build climate-friendly green infrastructure in Estonia with the support of the European Union. This would contribute to full transformation of the transport sector on the one hand and give a further boost to the renewable energy sector on the other hand, which will provide an incentive to produce green hydrogen, especially in the situations where there is a lot of cheap electricity at the market," Vihman added.

Paldiski South Harbor is ice-free, which fits well for the export and import of hydrogen in terms of location. The thematic plan of the Paldiski LNG terminal also envisages the construction of the infrastructure necessary for the transportation of hydrogen.

A hydrogen storage facility of 25,000 cubic meters is planned in cooperation with Alexela. The latter would enable the export and import of hydrogen in the Baltic Sea region, thus allowing the transition of the Estonian economy to clean energy sources. There is still no hydrogen terminal in the area of the Gulf of Finland today.

A favorable location also speaks in favor of Muuga Harbor, as well as the fact that the Rail Baltic will start there, which will open up several additional business opportunities. According to Port of Tallinn, there will be a need for bunkering hydrogen or other green fuels in the east-west corridor of the Baltic Sea in the future, which is suitable for both Muuga and Paldiski South Harbor.

Paldiski South Harbor, with its ice-free harbor and existing port infrastructure, is also very suitable as a service port for offshore wind farms due to its location and there are also opportunities to build the required service campus. With the increase in the share of wind energy in Estonia, the infrastructure would also support the production of green hydrogen in Estonia.

"We should encourage each other and look for allies. Port of Tallinn is ready to act immediately and step on it. We want Estonia to become the number one hydrogen country in the world. However, in order to make this a reality, we need cooperation between the private and public sectors," Vihman said.

In cooperation with the Dutch embassy and the company & Flux, a study has been conducted at Port of Tallinn on the possibilities and potentiality of using green hydrogen in ports, which revealed that Estonia could be a suitable location as a hub for hydrogen infrastructure in the Baltic Sea. The port has also entered into an agreement with the port of Hamburg with common intentions to work together on the development of the hydrogen infrastructure value chain.

Port of Tallinn is also researching various shore power solutions for cruise ships -- including hydrogen electricity generation. The company is considering converting its ferries serving the routes to Estonia's large islands to more environmentally friendly fuels and hydrogen is a potentially suitable alternative for this purpose.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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