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    Spain, the California of the green gas fever

    January 30, 2023 - CE Noticias Financieras


      Spain is the new golden land of renewable gases. The California of the gold rush but in biomethane and green hydrogen. Although there are no longer thousands of caravans bringing miners and their families, everyone is signing up for this "untapped vein", experts say, clean, cheap, which extends throughout the Spanish geography - including rural areas - and, above all, 100% indigenous. It will no longer be possible to say that Spain has no energy resources of its own apart from the sun, air and water. In fact, according to Sedigas and the Spanish Hydrogen Association, Spain has one of the largest "mines" in Europe, a potential that is also among the largest in the world. In fact, Spain is one of the top ten countries in the world in hydrogen patents, with an annual growth of these technologies of 5% during the last decade, according to the latest report of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the European Patent Office (EPO).Green hydrogen is perhaps, the most mediatic of both technologies, the one that has united France, Portugal. Spain and now Germany in a project that will cover half of the Peninsula from Huelva to Galicia and the entire Cantabrian corridor to emulate the Ebro and reach Catalonia, in this case Barcelona, from where it would connect by the H2Med hydroproduct to Marseille and then, via France, to Germany. All to ensure energy independence, or at least more of it, to the Old Continent. What is this alchemical philosopher's stone that could soon take us by plane from Madrid to New York in fewer hours and without emissions, provided that Airbus reaches its commitment to have three hydrogen-powered aircraft in 2035? Green hydrogen never pollutes. It is produced by electrolysis, which separates the oxygen from the hydrogen in the water molecule by applying electrical energy. If this electricity is of renewable origin, it is green hydrogen. If, as France intends, nuclear energy is used, it would be "clean" hydrogen, since nuclear power does not emit CO2. In any case, green or clean hydrogen only emits oxygen that enriches the atmosphere, uses water and electrical energy and achieves a higher purity hydrogen.With Europe at the forefront of hydrogen, followed by Japan and the United States, the growth in the rate of patents in Spain has been higher than Germany (4.2%), the Netherlands (4.4%) and Italy (2.6%), and has only been surpassed by France, where these technologies increased by 5.7% per year. Electrolysis has been the main form of hydrogen production in Spain, a technique whose use has increased by 16% since 2011. There are already hydrogen trucks and two models on sale in Spain from Hyundai and Toyota with 700 kilometers of autonomy capable of charging in five minutes and with zero emissions. At the end of last year, the top management of the Danish container ship giant Maersk agreed directly with the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to turn Spain into one of its green methanol refueling hubs and create a green hydrogen ecosystem together with administrations, universities and other partners with an investment of some 10,000 million that could generate 85,000 jobs. But is green hydrogen already profitable? The problem is the generation costs linked to the price of electricity. The bet is that when the surplus of renewables is sufficient, green hydrogen will be competitive. This range should be between 2.5 to 3 cents per kWh, according to the president of the Spanish Hydrogen Association, Javier Brey.The other issue is the grid. Current natural gas pipelines can only admit 30% hydrogen, mixed with natural gas. This reduces CO2 emissions and gas imports. However, it only allows burning the gas and not recovering the hydrogen for another use, ideally. Therefore, the grid will have to be gradually changed to exploit the full potential with the consequent added costs. Europe already has some 4,200 kilometers of hydrogen products. The European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) designed by the European gas network managers - among them Enagás, which manages 11,000 kilometers of gas pipelines with six international connections (two with Africa, two with Portugal and two with France) are committed to 53,000 kilometers of pipeline that will cross 20 European countries by 2040 at a cost of between 80,000 and 143,000 million euros. All this to meet the European objective of producing 10 million tons of renewable hydrogen domestically and 10 million tons of imports by 2030, and to ensure energy independence from Russian fossil fuels which, according to the European Commission, "are used as an economic and political weapon and cost European taxpayers almost 100 billion euros a year". By 2030, Spain foresees an installed capacity of 4 gigawatts by electrolysis and advances in industry and mobility.however, the less mediatic biomethane is for most experts a reality today that Spain must exploit without delay. To begin with, because Spain has the third largest potential in Europe for extracting green gas from agricultural, livestock and urban waste, and could generate 45% of the gas demand with its own resources, more than a third of the national energy appetite. This would require an investment of 40,500 million euros, a large part of which would come from European funds, to build 2,326 plants, the vast majority of which would be located in what is known as "empty Spain". The whole process would generate half a million jobs throughout the value chain and 62,000 jobs associated with the operation of the plants and their maintenance, according to calculations by the Spanish Gas Association (Sedigas). However, Spain is at the bottom of Europe.


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