The pact between the governments of Spain, France and Portugal, sponsored by the Community Executive, means the start-up of an unprecedented underwater tube between Barcelona and Marseille in 2030, designed to transport two million tons of green hydrogen each year. The agreement consolidates the drive for an essential energy vector for the success of the transition towards a world in which fossil fuels have a residual weight. The push of the European Commission is fundamental but conditioned on promoting green energy: of the 2,500 million euros that it will cost, Brussels will be able to finance up to half of that amount.
Electrification is the necessary step for the decarbonization of the global energy network, today 80% sustained by fossil fuels. But this process is not enough: it needs a complement for those uses —freight transport, heavy industry— in which the capacity and weight of the batteries or the heat needs make other alternatives necessary. That is where green hydrogen, generated with electricity from renewable sources, is making its way by leaps and bounds. At the Euro-Mediterranean summit in Alicante last Friday, it was the president of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who stressed: “Green hydrogen is going to change the history of Europe and it is going to be a crucial part of our energy system.” It is the confirmation of a growing conviction in Brussels about the opportunity that the Twenty-seven have ahead of them. For the first time since the coal era, the EU will be able to create the conditions to cover a good part of its future needs with clean and endogenous energy and free itself from ties to third countries or blocs until it turns its trade balance around.
In just a few months, green hydrogen has gone from being little more than a distant promise to something almost tangible. Although its production costs are still substantially higher than its version dirty —generated with coal or, above all, with natural gas—, the proliferation of investment announcements is accelerating the times to reach profitability. In the generation phase, the oil companies —large consumers of hydrogen dirty in their refineries and with the backing of full coffers thanks to the escalation in crude oil and fuel prices— have announced important projects in this segment in recent weeks. Rolls-Royce has just successfully tested using it instead of kerosene in a commercial jet engine, and Airbus maintains that hydrogen-powered aircraft will be taking to the skies by 2035. And Maersk, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, has just unveiled its plan to produce huge amounts of green methanol in Galicia and Andalusia —a fuel in whose generation hydrogen is essential— to feed its fleet.
Spain’s commitment to this global race is not capricious. The Iberian Peninsula has the best conditions in Europe for photovoltaic energy, currently the cheapest energy source: more hours of sunshine than any other State, wide availability of land and one of the most robust conduction networks on the continent, which allows tens of new gigawatts of power to be connected in the coming years. For this new scenario to become a reality, however, two important factors will have to be taken into account: the opposition of the movement against renewables and the scarcity of water, which, along with electricity, is the second essential ingredient for its production. .