Opinion: Hydrogen can help propel Western Macedonia to the forefront of sustainable innovation

By Nikolaos Ntavos, Cluster of Bioeconomy and Environment of Western Macedonia (CluBE)

“The EU’s hydrogen strategy has put forward a comprehensive framework to support the uptake of renewable and low-carbon hydrogen to help decarbonise the EU in a cost-effective way and reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels.

“Yet, today, hydrogen represents a modest fraction of the global and EU energy mix. For hydrogen to contribute to climate neutrality, it needs to achieve a far larger scale and its production must become fully decarbonised.

“This year’s European Hydrogen Week – organised by Hydrogen Europe, the European Commission and the Clean Hydrogen Partnership – brought the entire hydrogen sector together in Brussels to discuss progress and accelerate activities.

“The Cluster of Bioeconomy and Environment of Western Macedonia (CluBE) marked a significant milestone by participating for the first time in the event as an exhibitor.

“With a keen eye on the future, the region of Western Macedonia, which is currently running a post-lignite era, has set its sights on the development and practical application of hydrogen technologies within its borders.”

“This participation enforced the region’s commitment to advancing sustainable technologies and exploring the potential of unlocking opportunities for the development of the hydrogen economy in the Western Macedonia Region while showcasing the hydrogen projects and initiatives started in the area.

“Notably, Western Macedonia has already ensured the approval for two significant projects under the Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI) framework. The Green HiPo (Advent Technologies) and H2CAT (B&T Composites) projects, both emblematic of the region’s commitment to sustainability, represent pioneering efforts in the application of hydrogen technologies. These initiatives are poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the region’s energy landscape and contributing to the broader European objectives of decarbonization and sustainable development.

“In addition, CluBE is contributing to the creation of a hydrogen valley in Western Macedonia implementing related projects and initiatives presented in the European Hydrogen Week, namely 3 Horizon Europe projects (24/7 ZEN, H2MARINE and i-STENTORE), 1 Erasmus+ (GreenSkills4Hydrogen), 1 I3 project (Hy2Market) and 1 regional project for the creation of a hydrogen living lab (INNO-Agri-Vet). Furthermore, a feasibility study is being carried out by DIADYMA (the regional waste management company) for the valorisation of sewage sludge into hydrogen as a transport fuel for heavy-duty and garbage trucks.

“The participation of CluBE in the European Hydrogen Week provided valuable insights into the pivotal role of green hydrogen in the sustainable future of the Western Macedonia Region. The commitment to research, development and collaboration, underlines our engagement to driving positive change and contributing to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy landscape. As the world looks towards a greener future, we in CluBE are determined to leave a lasting impact on the regional hydrogen landscape, propelling the Western Macedonia Region into the forefront of sustainable innovation.”

Nikos is Co-Founder and Manager at CluBE and leads the cluster’s work on hydrogen.

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