Everyone has heard today about green hydrogen, as well as the intentions of the European regions and states to deploy the necessary investments to make its large-scale production a reality over the next decade. This represents, however, a huge challenge, given that the production of this energy vector requires the alignment of four key factors: the deployment of large-scale renewable energies, the development and improvement of green hydrogen production technologies and its derivatives, the construction of efficient infrastructures for its storage and transport and the generation of a mature market that makes green hydrogen competitive with other less sustainable energy solutions and that do not allow a definitive break with the dependence on fossil fuels of non-community origin, which in the Spanish case represents 75%, very far from self-sufficiency.
Regarding the eternal question of whether the market is prepared to assume a consumption of renewable hydrogen in the short term, a clear example can be found in the petrochemical industry of Tarragona, which consumes around 80,000 tons of hydrogen of fossil origin per year for its synthesis processes. , a fact that gives an idea of the real demand and needs of this sector to face the future transition from petrochemical refineries to green and circular chemistry biorefineries.
After entering a deadlock for three years, the MidCat is definitively buried, since it is considered unsustainable both at an environmental and economic level, and a “European, supportive, green and future” project is put on the table, according to words of the third vice-president and minister for the Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, who proposes an underwater connection, which allows Barcelona and Marseille to be linked through a 360 km underwater pipeline basically designed to transport green hydrogen between 2027 or 2028 and the beginning of the next decade. The idea of connecting the ports of Barcelona and Marseille was already defended by the pioneer and responsible for the initial deployment of natural gas in Spain, Pere Duran Farell, who in the 1970s proposed the connection between the regasification companies of these cities to become a pole of energy distribution in the western Mediterranean, once again anticipating a necessary investment in the future. For now still embryonic, it is necessary to take care of it and make it possible, among all of us, for it to see the light of day in the near future and not fall into oblivion, like other initiatives that did not go beyond being a great idea, either due to lack of political will or for partisan interests.
In this sense, the announcement made by the governments of Spain, France and Portugal to unblock the energy interconnection between the Iberian system and the rest of Europe is particularly relevant, considering that, in parallel, an underwater emissary will be installed in the pipeline for the transportation of electrical energy from renewable sources. Additionally, the proposal to improve the French connection through the Bay of Biscay stands out, but also to execute the remaining 162 kilometers to complete the energy connection between Spain (Zamora) and Portugal (Celourico da Beira). The objective of these actions is to go from an exchange capacity between the Iberian Electricity Market (Mibel) and the French system of 2,800 MW to 5,000 MW, substantially improving the chronic isolation of the Iberian system and therefore the security and independence of the community energy infrastructure.
A project of this scope calls for the involvement of all political, economic and social agents
Catalonia and Barcelona can become a nerve center in the new European energy structure and be configured as a hub for the production and distribution of green hydrogen due to the geostrategic potential of the Mediterranean basin and the Ebro corridor to produce renewable energy at a lower cost compared to other northern European countries, but also thanks to the natural outlet to the Mediterranean that represents the port of Barcelona.
On the other hand, and especially in the case of Catalonia, an effort must be made to prevent the lack of unified policies from leading to a series of administrative obstacles, which can take forever to obtain the required authorizations and permits, in comparison with other regions. where the route of fast track for this type of initiatives, creating an incomprehensible territorial imbalance for social and business development.
Faced with a project of this magnitude, it would be necessary for all political agents, without exception, but also the economic and social ones and the associations of companies in the sector, to be able to participate in decisions that will mark the future of the energy mix of our country, in addition to the survival and the competitiveness of various sectors such as the chemical, metallurgical, cement, automotive or land and sea transport, among many others.
Although the implementation of this initiative still depends on many technical, environmental and economic factors, it will require a solid commitment from all parties, in addition to the establishment of strategic alliances to ensure that the links and commitments at European level do not present any type of fissures. Nor do they have to be presented by institutions at a local and supra-municipal level, in order to reach a maximum degree of agreement, through common understanding, in order to be able to develop this innovative, strategic infrastructure of community interest, but also to country.
Either that or we could lose the current…