1. Interregional Congress H₂GreenTECH


On 17 June 2021, the consortium of H₂GreenTECH project partners organized the first interregional congress H2GreenTECH – Strengthening Slovenian – Austrian cross-border cooperation for the development of low-carbon technologies. The congress was coordinated by Štajerska Gospodarska Zbornica – Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Štajerska. The event took place in Maribor in hybrid form, with many speakers from Slovenia and Austria presenting on the virtual stage. The project is co-financed by European Regional Development Fund within the Cooperation program Interreg Slovenia-Austria, with the aim to increase the scope of research and innovation in the field of hydrogen technologies through cross-border cooperation between Slovenia and Austria. The H₂GreenTECH partners will use the results of the congress for the preparation of the Roadmap on low-carbon technologies in Slovenia and Austria.

Dr Blaž Likozar, H₂GreenTECH Project Manager at National Institute of Chemistry, Slovenia, emphasized the importance of the social agreement in addressing the challenge of energy supply, its storage and energy independence in the wider European context. Hydrogen is identified by most European Union countries as part of the solution for decarbonisation of transport and industrial processes, especially in the areas of energy storage, supply and increasing the use of energy from renewable sources. The main challenges we currently face are broader than in the area of research – we also face them at the policy level, in the integration of technologies into the economy and industrial processes, and in the area of logistics. These challenges are universal and transcend the national framework, so it is important that key stakeholders seek solutions at an interregional level. Dr. Tomaž Boh, Director General of Science Directorate at the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, emphasized the extraordinary importance of cross-border development cooperation and networking of all actors from development institutions, business and policy in the field of low-carbon technologies, including hydrogen technologies. This kind of cross-border cooperation reflects the outcome of strategies and policies in both countries, which have a significant impact on joint strategic, scientific and development achievements.

In a plenary session, the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports Slovenia gave an overview of existing policy documents in the field of low carbon technologies in Slovenia and Austria. Johann Binder from Forschung Burgenland presented energy specifics of Burgenland and existing orientations on policy level. In the panel on research and development topics, the speakers presented the most recent challenges, findings and projects in the field of research and development centres in Slovenia and Austria. Speakers were: Dr. Blaž Likozar, Head of the Department of Catalysis and Reaction Engineering at National Institute of Chemistry Slovenia; Dr. Viktor Hacker, Head of the Working Group for Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Systems within the Institute of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology (CEET), which operates within the Technical University of Graz; Dr. Christian Heschl, Department of Energy and Environment at the University of Applied Sciences Burgenland and Heinz-Peter Liechtenecker of Carinthia University of Applied Sciences, Austria. In the Economic/Industry plenary session, speakers presented the challenges of adopting low-carbon technologies. Speakers were: Tilen Sever from Steklarna Hrastnik, who presented the decarbonisation of production processes using hydrogen; Johannes Kohlmaier, project manager at Green Tech Cluster from Austria, which is becoming a centre for circular economy and climate change in Graz; Dr. Alex Kruis from AciesBio presented the OneCarbonBio biological platform for the production of industrial chemicals, which can reduce net carbon emissions, which in combination with hydrogen play a key role in the decarbonisation of the chemical industry. Dr. Zoran Marinšek from Competence Center for Advanced Control Technologies presented the hydrogen prosumer in the smart harmonized electricity market system, which produces and stores green hydrogen and generates electricity from it, which it provides in the flexible energy trading system in the smart grid for peak load balancing. Energy flows in the grid and thus can be an important building block in the national strategy to achieve carbon-neutrality.

The most important part of the congress was the interactive workshop “Paving the way for the Roadmap on low-carbon technologies: a common Slovenian-Austrian agenda”, led by Dr. Peter Kumer from MIZŠ. Participants from different stakeholders (higher education institutions, research centers, governmental and non-governmental organizations, business associations, sectoral agencies, SMEs and public representatives) focused on developing guidelines (objectives, actions, expected outcomes, target groups and timeframes) for more effective interregional cooperation. The main findings of the workshop are that the professional and scientific sector of the cross-border area is well developed, but lacks a hydrogen strategy to realize this potential. A well-developed approach is needed to bring green technologies closer to the market (products and customers) and funding for cross-border projects and demonstration pilots that would enable better integration.

The participants of the congress expressed the wish for further cooperation in the framework of the planned second interregional congress H₂GreenTECH in November 2021 in Austria and welcomed the establishment of Hydrogen Center, which is developing within the framework of the H₂GreenTECH project. Hydrogen Center will connect different stakeholders in Slovenia and Austria in a long-term cross-border industry network to foster the development of innovations in hydrogen technologies and implement the Roadmap on low-carbon technologies in Slovenia and Austria. One-Stop-Shop Hydrogen Center will provide companies with access to the services, cutting-edge knowledge and research infrastructure of the research centres. This will provide the basis for promoting the growth and development of low-carbon technologies, knowledge transfer to young people and the transition to a carbon-free society.

More information about the project is available on the H2GreenTECH project website www.h2greentech.eu and on the Facebook @H2GreenTECH and LinkedIn @h2greentech-project. For additional information, you can contact the project manager Dr. Blaž Likozar at the National Institute of Chemistry, Slovenia blaz.likozar@ki.si.