Spain is boosting its efforts to establish a hydrogen sector to fuel heavy industry. Its goals are putting it on par with Germany and France. Green hydrogen could replace natural gas, oil, and coal to help eliminate around one-third of emissions by 2050.
The secretary of state of energy, Sara Aagsen, said in an interview:
Things are getting very competitive. Spain can become a relevant player in the renewable hydrogen sector by taking advantage of our high potential of generating renewable power at very competitive prices.
According to Aagsen, the Madrid government has developed a roadmap for green hydrogen production. The program involves building four gigawatts by 2030 and is expected to cost €8.9 billion ($10.5 billion) within the next decade. The government hasn’t said how much of that will have to be publicly funded yet.
At the heart of the European Union’s measures to become climate neutral by 2050 is hydrogen – and Spain’s ambition is to be one of the leading producers. Its plan consists of 60 steps dedicated to helping establish a hydrogen supply chain.
The long-term goals are to have manufacturing plants pump out 300 to 600 megawatts of hydrogen from renewable sources by 2024 and 4 gigawatts by 2030. The EU’s target is 40 gigawatts by 2030, so Spain plans to provide 10% of that.
The most crucial piece of the scaling up puzzle is the electrolyzer that separates water’s hydrogen atoms from oxygen using electricity. In the case of green hydrogen, the electricity has to come from clean energy, like sunlight and wind, which Spain has plenty of.
The country plans to build large-scale units, so one plant alone could make up to 100 megawatts. It also wants these mega-machines to be built into factories that have recently been shut down to ensure a just transition is part of the hydrogen plan.
Another part of the plan involves transitioning its transportation sector to run off green hydrogen. By 2030, there should be 5,000 light and heavy vehicles, 150 buses, two commercial train lines, 100 hydrogen refueling stations or more, and hydrogen-powered handling machinery in the country’s top five airports and ports.
It also mentions the potential of exporting clean gas to other countries in Europe. Netherlands and Germany have already said they likely won’t build sufficient renewable energy capacity to meet the demand to power the production of all the clean hydrogen they’ll need. Whatever they lack, they could import from Spain.
Emma Champion, a BloombergNEF energy transition policy analyst, said:
By 2050, there’s quite a positive outlook for a market like Spain to export to Germany, if all parts of the puzzle come together.
The level of ambition in Europe is very promising if it can get delivered. Who makes up the rest is still the big question.
Bloomberg reported that the EU’s hydrogen industry needs $150 billion in subsidies by 2030 to expand, and $11 trillion to supply just 24% of energy demand by 2050 using hydrogen as a part of Spain’s plan to use 100% renewable energy by 2050.
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