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Germán José Manuel Toro Ghio, son of Germán Alfonso and Jenny Isabel Cristina, became a citizen of planet Earth in the cold dawn of Sunday, May 11, 1958, in Santiago, capital of southern Chile....

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  • Jan 3, 2023

They are committed to hydrogen production being close to demand…

Written in Spanish by Javier González Navarro

Translation by Germán & Co



The future H2Med hydro-product that will connect Barcelona with Marseille from at least 2030 has been submitted to the call for Projects of Common Interest (PCI) to receive European funding, since its cost is estimated at around 3,000 million euros.

"The execution of the project will turn Spain into the world's first renewable hydrogen hub by incorporating the first axes of the national backbone network that will connect the green hydrogen production centres with domestic demand and the two international interconnections with France and Portugal", the Ministry for Ecological Transition stresses.

Promoted by the governments of Spain, Portugal and France, H2Med includes two cross-border infrastructures, one between Celorico da Beira (Portugal) and Zamora, and another, underwater, between Barcelona and Marseille (France), which are promoted by the respective gas system transporters and managers: Enagás on the Spanish side, REN on the Portuguese side, and GRTgaz and Terega on the French side. The underwater section will be some 400 kilometres long. Both sections will be linked to the backbone that runs from Huelva to Gijón and from there to Catalonia.

This infrastructure, announced with great fanfare by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, in an attempt to cover up the failure suffered with the MidCat - the gas pipeline that would cross the Pyrenees and which has been flatly rejected by the French President, Enmanuel Macron -, has the approval of the Spanish gas sector, although some experts question its viability.



Firstly, because the countries involved have not confirmed a timetable for the project. In addition, major uncertainties have arisen in relation to the purpose, demand, technology, costs, financing and the general need for it, they stress.

The construction of this hydroproduct to transport green hydrogen to France in the long term is based on the assumption that Spain and Portugal will be able to produce enough renewable hydrogen to meet domestic demand and have a surplus for export. Both countries have increased their renewable energy generation, but this may not be enough, according to the Hydrogen Science Coalition.

"If this hydro-product is built, it will be an unnecessary expense paid for by public funds that will not alleviate the current gas crisis and, on the contrary, will further exacerbate costs for energy consumers. The leaders of France, Spain, Portugal and other countries involved must prevent H2Med from becoming another failed project turned into a stranded asset paid for by consumers like MidCat," the experts stress.


Spanish hydrogen backbone

Light blue rhombus storage centres

  Image source: Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge / ABC


Source: Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge / ABC

 "Studies have shown that hydrogen-based fuels should be used mainly in sectors such as aviation or industrial processes that cannot be electrified. The use of hydrogen-based fuels instead of direct electrification alternatives requires between two and fourteen times the amount of electricity generation depending on the application and the respective technologies."


Worse than burning gas

The experts also suggest that "transporting hydrogen over long distances is potentially worse for the climate than burning natural gas and therefore it is better to produce hydrogen close to where the demand is. Producing hydrogen locally will help reduce energy dependence and improve security of supply where it is needed most.

David Cebon, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Cambridge (UK) and member of the Hydrogen Science Coalition, says, "While it is true that we will need renewable hydrogen to accelerate the energy transition, particularly for sectors that already use 'dirty' hydrogen today, we are just at the beginning of developing a clean hydrogen supply and a clear use case. This means that the quantity and location of future hydrogen demand remains highly uncertain. Linking the justification for new gas infrastructure to future hydrogen use before we are clear on where both demand and supply of hydrogen will come from is irresponsible.

The Hydrogen Science Coalition is an international group of independent academics, scientists and engineers working to bring an evidence-based viewpoint to the hydrogen policy debate.

The cost and funding of the project are not yet clearly defined. H2Med is expensive to build and requires financial backing from buyers to reach the Financial Investment Decision (FID).

New subsea hydrogen transport lines are estimated to cost around USD 7.1 million per kilometre. The length of the H2Med pipeline could vary between 300 and 400 kilometres, so this pipeline could cost approximately 3 billion euros.


Long-term hydrogen buyers

Clean hydrogen industries in Europe and Asia highlighted the three main factors delaying their FIDs at a recent Bloomberg NEF roundtable: the need to find long-term buyers for clean hydrogen, complicated renewable energy licensing rules, and the wait to capture all available financing.

Inés Bouacida, Climate and Energy researcher at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, explains that "it is not yet clear whether the project will go ahead, which will depend on the technical and financial feasibility assessments of the countries involved (MidCat was rejected by French regulators, among other things, as uneconomic)". He adds that "it is not yet clear whether it will be attractive to transport hydrogen between the Iberian Peninsula and France".

The green hydrogen pipeline between Barcelona and Marseille will not be in place until the next decade

He adds that low-carbon hydrogen production "is currently almost non-existent and the consumption channels are still partly to be built, although it seems clear that hydrogen will be used mainly for the decarbonisation of industry. Therefore, production and consumption areas are still in the definition phase, which makes it difficult to plan the infrastructures for the production and consumption of hydrogen.


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