Environmental and social groups criticize the H2Med corridor for green hydrogen Barcelona-Marseille

Environmental and social groups criticize the H2Med corridor for green hydrogen Barcelona-Marseille

The Resposta al BarMar platform (formerly Midcat) and the Gas No es Solución network, in which fifty neighborhood associations, social entities, environmental groups and political organizations participate, have taken advantage of the XXVII summit between Spain and France that is being held in Barcelona to criticize again – as they have done on several occasions in recent months – the H2Med green hydrogen corridor or pipeline, one of the projects to be discussed at the meetings led by Pedro Sánchez and Emmanuel Macron.

The environmental and social groups attached to these entities consider that the construction of a gas pipeline like the one now projected under the name of H2Med is energy inefficient (due to the loss of energy in the transformation and transport of hydrogen, it diverts economic resources that could be invested in renewable energies of proven effectiveness and can have negative impacts on the territory and ecosystems (for example, on the seabed where the pipeline will be placed).

Divert funds from renewables

Ecologistas en Acción, one of the entities participating in the Gas is not the Solution network, details that, in its opinion, “H2Med is a bet that puts the viability of the energy transition at risk, diverting essential energy for export to the decarbonization of national demand”. “In addition to using a very inefficient energy vector such as hydrogen (H2), this type of infrastructure perpetuates a centralized model that goes against people, the environment and continues to favor large energy companies such as Enagás,” says Ecologistas in Action in an informative note.

The Rsposta al BarMar platform, for its part, criticizes the H2Med “green energy corridor” proposal and considers it a “lost opportunity to bet on a fair energy transition towards renewables”. According to statements by one of its spokespersons, “no gas pipeline can be green, especially if it must transport fossil gas, even temporarily.” In addition, he has reiterated that “this new project still does not address or provide a solution to dependence on fossil fuels or the energy and climate crisis.” In this sense, he recalled that currently only 1% of hydrogen is green or renewable and that the rest continues to come from fossil fuels.

List in factors against

The Gas is not the Solution network warns that the H2Med project “will involve the unprecedented construction of a set of gas pipelines that will initially transport hydrogen produced from renewable energies” and that, “although green hydrogen can help to achieve a 100% renewable energy source”, “its use must be reserved for specific cases in which it would be unfeasible to use another type of renewable energy”.

Basic infrastructures of the green hydrogen corridor project.

Basic infrastructures of the green hydrogen corridor project.

Ecologists in Action

The list of factors against H2Med disseminated by Ecologistas en Acción also includes the following four sections (textual citations from the informative note disseminated by this organization:

– Exporting large amounts of hydrogen would imply the implementation of many more large renewable projects that could have a high environmental and territorial impact. There is also the risk that, since there is not enough surplus renewable energy, it will fall into producing hydrogen with fossil gas, as is the case with 99% of the H2 obtained today.

– The above risk increases due to the low energy efficiency of H2, as the independent research institute Hydrogen Science Coalition has already pointed out. In the process of producing hydrogen by electrolysis from, for example, renewable sources and during its transportation by gas pipeline, up to 80% of the energy invested can be lost.

– If H2Med is finally included in the list of Projects of Common Interest (PICs), aspiring to European funding, it could benefit from the less demanding environmental controls introduced by the REPowerEU. As ClientEarth has already denounced, this package of measures aimed at replacing Russian gas gives PICs the possibility to bypass the principle of “No Significant Environmental Damage” (or “Do No Significant Harm” in English) and be exempt from evaluations of comprehensive environmental impact.

– The latter is especially relevant if we take into account that it will cross the Gulf of Lion, one of the ecosystems with the highest biodiversity index in the Mediterranean, where there are protected marine areas, a cetacean corridor and the Pélagos Sanctuary.

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