Western Norway Secures Leading Role in European Hydrogen Initiative

The EU’s Erasmus+ programme has granted €4 million to a project aimed at increasing hydrogen expertise.

As the world transitions from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, hydrogen is emerging as an important solution for future energy production. With the aim of becoming a leading exporter of hydrogen to Europe, Norway has already established agreements of intent with Germany. However, technological development requires a skilled workforce, which is currently lacking in the industry.

To address this need, five European regions, including Western Norway, have been selected for a large-scale initiative to build hydrogen expertise and foster international collaboration. This initiative is supported by the Vestland County Municipality, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Vestland Higher Vocational College, Saga Fjordbase and the Sustainable Energy Catapult Centre.

Developing Vocational Skills

The objective is to develop vocational skills across a broad spectrum, ranging from secondary education and vocational training to higher and continuing education.  This comprehensive approach will equip workers with the essential professional skills needed in the hydrogen industry.

– Collaboration and expertise are required to establish the value chain for hydrogen production. We need to work together both regionally and internationally in order to succeed, which highlights the significance of Western Norway’s involvement in this project, says Gunnar Yttri, Rector of Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. 

Each participating European region will contribute their unique hydrogen expertise. Western Norway University of Applied Sciences will serve as the regional coordinator, while the Vestland County Municipality will lead the project and the European collaboration.

Partnarane i EU-prosjektet.

Joint meeting: The project partners were gathered on Tuesday at Vestlandshuset in Bergen. Photo: Anbjørn Holme, Vestland County Municipality 

Preparing the Region for a Green Transition

– Western Norway University of Applied Sciences has a strong foundation, as we were early to establish hydrogen technology as a subject in higher education. Our continuing education courses are in high demand, and we have strong industry connections. The stage is set for the region to emerge as a centre of innovative hydrogen production, says Yttri.  

The project was officially launched on Tuesday at Vestlandshuset in Bergen, attended by County Mayor Jon Askeland and the other partners. 

– The development of hydrogen value chains in Europe is estimated to create approximately 1 million jobs by 2030 and up to 5 million by 2050. These jobs will require highly skilled workers, said Askeland.

The EU project H2CoCE is a strategic initiative to drive this development forward.

– We need more information about the specific skills required by our workers to meet the demands of the industry, and this project will help bridge the gap, said the County Mayor. Fylkesordførar Jon Askeland.County Mayor Jon Askeland spoke at the opening event of the EU project. Photo: Anbjørn Holme, Vestland County Municipality


Project Overview

  • The H2CoVE project has been awarded €4 million (45 million NOK) from Erasmus+ and will last over four years.

  • The goal is to build expertise and ensure that a skills shortage does not restrict innovation and development in the hydrogen field.

  • A total of 19 partners from 5 countries will take part in the project, including representatives from both the education and business sectors. 

  • The partner regions include North Holland, Tyrol in Austria, Estonia, and the Precarpathian in Ukraine.

  • The H2CoVe project plans to involve 800 company stakeholders, in addition to 150 teachers at various levels who will participate in a “Train-the-Trainer” programme.

  • The project will provide opportunities for continuing education, problems for student competitions, and at least 12 project, bachelor's and/or master's theses.