Hydrogen technologies could bring great economic benefits to Estonia but they require extensive investments, the Foresight Center, which carries out research for the Riigikogu, found in a recent study.
Researchers found Estonia has "strong potential" in hydrogen production, technology research and development, and its application, the report "The State of Play and Prospects for Hydrogen Technology" says.
But the country will need to significantly invest in its infrastructure and take part in international projects to do so.
The report said Estonia needs nationwide hydrogen infrastructure, such as a hydrogen pipeline, to integrate local solar and wind farms with hydrogen production and transport, and create opportunities for hydrogen transport in deep-water harbors.
To export hydrogen, land transport infrastructure will need to be updated, and Estonian ports could be turned into hubs for hydrogen fuel, it was recommended.
Additionally, Estonia has opportunities to influence various technological tipping points, the center said.
For example, a promising line of research for Estonia is connected with more efficient and more affordable high-temperature electrolysis as well as fuel cells and the materials related to them, the authors found.
Hydrogen is likely to be at the center of the European transport and energy sector in the coming decades but renewable sources are needed to "achieve a positive environmental impact", the study said.
Uku Varblane, head of the center said a global breakthrough to produce hydrogen without fossil fuels is still being awaited.
But "green hydrogen" produced with water electrolysis with the help of solar and wind energy is "one of the most environmentally and climate-friendly energy carriers".
He said Estonia's potential as a producer of green hydrogen depends on the amount of wind and solar energy the country can produce, and on whether Estonia will join the pan-European hydrogen network and the Nordic Hydrogen Route hydrogen infrastructure, connecting the Nordic countries, which is part of that network.
The latter is planned to cover the hydrogen need of Finland and Sweden which is estimated to amount to 65 TWh per year by 2050.
The Foresight Center is a think tank at the Riigikogu that analysis socio-economic trends and builds future scenarios. The center researches a range of topics in order to anticipate emerging trends and potential disruptions
Last year, it was announced by Tartu City Government that Estonia is developing a nationwide Hydrogen Valley.
Editor: Helen Wright