Already, the transition to a more sustainable economy is a shared goal. This has been achieved in both the public and private spheres. The European Parliament called for climate neutrality by urging member states to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Brussels is encouraging EU countries to take advantage of the EU funds the EU countries are expected to receive between 2021-2022 to support their economies' recovery. It wants them to move at a faster pace and modernize the models they use with the common goal of being more environmentally and green. The Spanish Executive of Pedro Sanchez announced that it will allocate 1,555 million euros from the funds to support the green hydrogen value chain at national level. This is why half a million projects were interested in it up to October.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element within the universe. However, it cannot be found in isolation as a molecular or in any deposits. Therefore, green hydrogen is not considered to be a natural resource. It is an energy vector, unlike the sun and wind. It is possible to get it using an old method that dates back to 19th century electrolysis.
In order to do this, you need to apply continuous currents of electricity to water. This will allow it to separate the two components hydrogen and oxygen. Although its use is not new, it has been used since the 20th century. It played an important role in the race for space. Because hydrogen is extracted from hydrocarbons, oil and gas, it emits CO2 into the atmosphere. Instead, hydrogen is extracted from water by using electricity from renewable sources. Zero emissions are achieved.
Blue hydrogen is more common. It is extracted from natural gas wells and often produced with some coal loading. Although it does not emit CO2, its price is higher than that of the green.
Spain is betting that the former will once again lead the race to develop renewable energy and become an exporter. This is especially true in northern Europe which gets far less sunlight. He hasn't yet begun in a race that has already started. Australia, China, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Chile, and China have the six largest green hydrogen production plants today.
At the moment, 99% hydrogen used for fuel comes from non-renewable sources. According to the International Energy Agency, (IEA), less than 0.1% of hydrogen is produced by electrolysis of water. Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, referred to this source as "the greatest innovation in recent years to fight the greenhouse effect."
More than 30 countries published their roadmaps earlier this year. A long list of governments have also committed public money to support decarbonisation using hydrogen technologies. The Hydrogen Council notes that 228 large-scale projects were announced across the value chain. 85% of these are located in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Nearly all of the focus is on large-scale industrial uses, but also on how it can be used to transport hydrogen to create more sustainable mobility and an integrated economy.
"If the projects are realized, total investments will exceed 30,000 million in expenditures in this new decade that has just started," states this Council in its most recent report 'Hydrogen Intelsights 2021". According to Goldman Sachs investment bank, the green hydrogen market will reach $11 trillion by 2050.
Brussels has made hydrogen one of the pillars for the new economy it wants to establish throughout the Union. It has also set the goal to produce one million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2024. This figure will need to rise by the end this decade, and reach 10,000,000 tons by 2030.
Ecologists in Action, which brings together over 300 national groups working in this field, says that such an EU goal "represents just 11% of the current total hydrogen consumption." They also criticize the fact that green hydrogen is not the most efficient process, and "the difficulties of the ecological transition" are more apparent than ever. They also denounce that the hydrogen's manufacturing and storage have significant losses which could decrease the efficiency to 20% in many applications.
Spain's green fever for hydrogen is evident in any case. Renewables accounted for 44% of electricity generated in the country by 2020. When there is excess electricity generation during periods of high sun or wind, it is common to reduce energy production. In the future, however, the plan would be to produce and store temporary surplus electricity in green hydrogen. This will allow for later use.
"A significant step has been made in fighting climate change. Both investors and governments now understand the importance of hydrogen in the energy transition. To realize this potential, however, all parties must collaborate and spread this new ecosystem throughout the globe. It's about making hydrogen a competitive, clean, abundant, and affordable energy carrier," says Benoit Potier (President and CEO of Air Liquide) and Co-Chairman at the Hydrogen Council.
In Spain, energy companies are already starting projects related to green hydrogen in anticipation of Next Generation EU funds.
A business career began to develop a sustainable energy mix in 2021. Fertiberia and Iberdrola have launched a project to build the largest green hydrogen plant for industrial use in Europe, Puertollano. It was also created to make this exercise operational.
It will include a photovoltaic sun-roof system that can produce up to 100 MW, and a lithium-ion battery storage system that can store 20 MWh. The complex also includes one of the most powerful hydrogen production systems by electrolysis in the world (20MW). All of this is 100% renewable. It will create 700 jobs and prevent the emission of 39,000 tons CO2 annually.
In 2025, another green hydrogen plant will surpass this international standard. It will be located in Saudi Arabia and have a 4 gigawatt solar and wind energy capacity. The goal of the project is to produce 650 tonnes of hydrogen by electrolysis every day.
Naturgy and Enagas, back in Spain will build a large green hydrogen plant in La Robla (Leon). The goal is to produce 9,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen annually from a 400 MW photovoltaic and 60 MW electrolysers.
Further north, Repsol, an oil company, has taken the "aim to be a leader for renewable hydrogen on Iberian Peninsula." Participates in pioneering project to produce green hydrogen and ammonia using floating photovoltaic sun energy in Santander. It is led by the Cantabria Marina Energy Cluster and has a budget in excess of 4.5 million Euros. It will be completed by 2023.
Acciona's plans include the "OceanH2" industrial research project. It will oversee the design and validation for this offshore green hydrogen storage, distribution and generation plant. This project will combine floating wind and photovoltaic technologies with Internet of Things and artificial intelligence (AI).
It will be held in Madrid, Canary Islands and Catalonia. Participating companies include Redexis and Ariema as well as TSI, Wunder Hexicon, BlueNewables and Redexis. Twelve research centers are also involved.
Asturias, Enagas and EDP, Capital Energy, as well as half a dozen companies, have joined forces to create green hydrogen projects. Vizcaya will host the first Basque plant with this type of hydrogen, which has a capacity 20 MW.