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It is not yet produced, but the government is already analyzing the introduction of export taxes on "green hydrogen".

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    This was admitted by Minister Matías Kulfas in Barcelona, at a world event. In Argentina, the pioneer scientist in the subject warned against excessive regulation and suggested where to put the first refueling station.

    From Barcelona, where he attended the "Global Assembly and Exhibition of Green Hydrogen", the Minister of Productive Development, Matías Kulfas, admitted that the government will discuss in Congress, together with the provinces, how to apply export duties (i.e., retentions) to "green hydrogen", as hydrogen isolated by electrolysis through the use of renewable energies is identified.

    Accompanied by the ambassador to Spain, Ricardo Alfonsín, Kulfas spoke at the international event and held conversations with interested companies whose first proposals, he admitted to the supplement Energía On, of the newspaper Río Negro, first of all raised "stability in the rules of the game". The event in Barcelona was also attended by the governor of Jujuy, Gerardo Morales, president of the UCR and one of the members of Juntos por el Cambio (Together for Change), which is running to compete in the PASO for next year's presidential elections.

    "We are talking about these general frameworks that are raised to us, such as the reasonableness of establishing fiscal stability regimes. We have other experiences that have turned out well, such as the case of the mining sector, and then clear definitions and with clarity about what is green hydrogen, blue hydrogen, the different types of formats and their specifications. We are not talking about requests for rare or special conditions, but about a regulatory framework that provides this predictability. This, undoubtedly, will make investments take off in the coming years", said Kulfas to the special envoy of the newspaper from Río Negro, the most advanced province in the subject, where the largest project known so far, that of Fortescue Industries, is aimed.

    Big announcement

    In November last year, the Australian firm announced an investment of about USD 8 billion to produce green hydrogen in Argentina in Río Negro, as former rugby player Agustín Pichot, Fortescue's representative in Latin America, pointed out at the time.

    Kulfas admitted that investments in the sector "have a size that requires investment and international financing" and that it is "necessary to guarantee access to the exchange market for the repayment of debts, profits and dividends", which -he added- "will not be a problem, we see it as part of the solution: such an income of foreign currency will help us to balance the exchange market and to be able to make it more flexible and eliminate these hard restrictions we have. As a government, we are not comfortable with this level of restrictions. We hope that in the next few years they can be gradually eliminated".

    And although he admitted that the hydrogen industry requires "predictability and fiscal stability", he also admitted that "the eventual imposition of export taxes is being analyzed". "Discussions are being held with the provinces and the different sectors. We want to reach a consensus mechanism that preserves investors and also satisfies the provincial and national governments. We are going to generate a scheme that is reasonable and satisfies the investors' demands. This will be discussed in the National Congress", he pointed out.

    Regulatory safeguards

    In Argentina, meanwhile, the pioneer of "Green Hydrogen" in the country, physicist Juan Carlos Bolcich, president of the Argentine Hydrogen Association, warned, in a note published by the newspaper La Mañana, from Neuquén, that for the development of this new fuel "Argentina needs that regulations do not become an excess".

    The distrust of those interested in the subject regarding the seriousness of the State's approach is based, in part, on experience. In 2006 a Hydrogen promotion law was passed: it promoted a series of incentives for 15 years, but it was never regulated and expired last year. That is to say, it had a vegetative life during its supposed validity.

    Perhaps because of this background, Bolcich told the supplement e+, of the Neuquén newspaper, that the sector "has clear rules regarding safety and technology, but the same does not happen in governmental matters".

    "Sometimes regulations and decrees appear. This sometimes makes any type of project cumbersome and puts a brake on it. It is essential to have some regulations, but it should not be an excess that ends up becoming a bureaucracy. That is what can most limit ventures involving hydrogen or other activities," stressed Bolcich, a true pioneer in the field.

    War as an accelerator

    According to Bolcich, the war in Ukraine and the rising cost of energy will accelerate the development time of renewable energies and hydrogen, provided that competitive costs are achieved. "We have to take into account the cost of hydrogen, which has a huge influence. On the one hand, there is capital amortization and, on the other, there is the cost of investments plus operating costs," he said. The ideal, he said, would be to reach a megawatt/hour at a value of 20 dollars.

    In addition, the physicist and former official of the Bariloche Atomic Center pointed out that Patagonia could be the first place where to switch from traditional fuel to hydrogen, he pondered the private project Hychico, of the Capsa oil company, and even suggested where the first refueling station of hydrogen as fuel for automobiles could operate: on Route 3.

    Bolcich graduated in physics at the Balseiro Institute and worked until his retirement at the Bariloche Atomic Center, and in 1997, 25 years ago, he achieved a first, running a car, a Renault 9, completely on hydrogen, from a Ford V8 engine lent by a colleague from the National Atomic Energy Commission and with the help of a Uruguayan student with whom they designed a device to feed the engine with hydrogen directly to the carburetor mouth and regulating the amount through a solenoid valve like those of CNG, he said in a note with Infobae.

    Truncated hydrogen

    In 2003 the then Minister of Federal Planning of Kirchnerism, Julio De Vido, relied on the prestige and background of Bolcich to be "godfather" of the "First Experimental Hydrogen Plant" in Pico Truncado, Santa Cruz, which was declared "National Hydrogen Capital" and transferred funds to the "Hydrogen Foundation", whose mayor was then the Kirchnerist Juan Carlos Maimó, denounced in 2016, just like the Foundation, by the then Socialist mayor, Omar Fernández, for the alleged embezzlement of $ 46 million transferred by the Nation and the Province. But in 2019 Maimó was reelected mayor.

    Last year, in an interview, Bolcich distanced himself from that experience. "Everything depended on a plan that ended up not being developed," he said, and referred to the Hychico project, of the oil and petrochemical company Capsa, which in Chubut, 20 kilometers from Comodoro Rivadavia, developed the first pilot plant of Green Hydrogen in the country, by electrolysis of water, and the first natural Hydrogen reservoir, 800 meters deep, which loads through a polymer hydrogen pipeline.

    This project, entirely private, is on a small scale and is far from the large numbers managed by the Australian company Fortescue, which is still carrying out feasibility studies, but to which Kulfas announced, from Spain, that they could impose withholding taxes.

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