"The goal is to stimulate growth for Norway and Norwegian companies in the hydrogen economy."

The CCFN opens its doors to Bjørn Ottar Elseth, Cluster Manager H2 Cluster of the Norwegian Hydrogen Cluster.

You were appointed Head of Arena H2 Cluster a few months ago. Could you please tell us about your background and what are your ambitions for the cluster?

My background is mainly from jobs in the space and telecom sector, at the European Space Agency and in various positions in Telenor and the last 14 years at the Norwegian Space Agency. I have experience with commercial use of satellite data, initiating a space business incubation centre, being the project manager for the first Norwegian state satellite as well as funding manager of many innovative space technology projects. In the last period I worked as the Norwegian Space Transportation delegate to ESA, ranging from assessing Norwegian key technologies at the Ariane 6 launcher and at the Kourou spaceport in French Guyana and starting the important assessment of the regulatory framework the Andoya spaceport in North Norway. I also worked as a Space Exploration delegate, especially how Norway can position itself in Europe’s plans for future Moon exploration. As the co-founder of a Space and Energy network to foster Technology Transfer between these two advanced sectors, I got to know many of advanced Global and Norwegian Energy and Offshore companies.


My ambition is to lead the Arena H2Cluster to become the leading Norwegian hydrogen technology cluster, working closely with other more application-oriented clusters in Norway and elsewhere. The goal is to stimulate growth for Norway and Norwegian companies in the hydrogen economy, now being shaped throughout the world. Europe, and especially France and Germany, have announced huge plans and both the larger Norwegian companies, like Statkraft, Equinor, Aker, Yara and NEL as well as dynamic smaller niche companies and regional players can contribute to transforming our energy system and enable the low carbon society. The Arena H2Cluster will be a catalyst to stimulate important international projects for the cluster members together with Innovation Norway and work the Norwegian hydrogen community to foster innovative research, scaling of the current capabilities, and necessary cost reductions to enable a swift introduction of hydrogen in the total energy system and in various industries and application areas.


According to you, what are the most promising segments for the Norwegian hydrogen sector?

Norway has a great potential in core hydrogen technology areas, like electrolyser development and manufacturing, storage and safety-related technologies, all instrumental for the growing green hydrogen business as well as CCUS technologies in the blue hydrogen business. With Norway’s strength in the maritime business, from building the new green ships to changing the propulsion of these ships by fuel cells, Norwegian and other Nordic and global businesses active in Norway, can pioneer how such technologies will set the examples to change this industry. Building the necessary infrastructure to enable access to hydrogen is essential, and important Norwegian public projects are arriving to achieve this. Changing industries to use hydrogen to make industries like steel and ammonia greener could be important pioneering areas where Norway has already started important developments. Other areas, like heavy transport and zero emission aeronautics are also very promising. Finally, large projects in the North Sea and other places in Europe, producing renewable offshore wind energy, can set an example on how Norwegian players in leading positions can also be a pioneer in producing green hydrogen.  


We have had the pleasure of collaborating with you when you worked at the Norwegian Space Agency so you are already familiar with French-Norwegian projects. How do you see the potential for French-Norwegian cooperation in the field of hydrogen?

I see potential for many interesting win-win projects between France and Norway, in everything from core technology product developments and scaling this growing industry towards higher capabilities. France and Norway both understands the need for a robust infrastructure to succeed, so many of the good examples can be show-cased in France and Norway. We could also find a match between companies in the maritime industry and the industry sector in general. Projects and collaboration between Norway and the strong French aeronautics sector also have potential, as aeronautics will go through a fundamental transition where both battery and hydrogen planes will find their roles.


France will invest 9 billion Euro on Hydrogen before 2030 and we will join forces together with Innovation Norway, H2Cluster and Norsk Hydrogenforum to organize the 20th of January a presentation of the French Hydrogen market. What kind of information are your members expecting for this event?

The H2Cluster members would like to hear the French plans in more detail, starting with the big national plans and scrutinize some of the areas where France will emphasize. Especially it will be interesting to hear more about the areas where France is planning to join forces with other countries in order to solve both national and European industrial and end-user challenges towards our common low carbon future. Hopefully this meeting will be a starting point enabling business opportunities for both French and Norwegian players in this growing field!

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