The Romans already said it when they built the Via Augusta: the legions will enter through here; the vandals will come down here; the exiles will flee here; the first Hispanic highway will pass through here, when there are carriages with other horses; tourists will run here, bringing silver coins and new customs; long freight trains will circulate here ( Jose Maria Aznar wanted to prevent it in 2002); The Midcat had to pass through here with gas for the German factories, but France did not want it; hydrogen will pass through here, the new fuel of the 21st century, if there is enough water to produce it
The Midcat is dead and the new conduction in the project between Barcelona and Marseille will not be called BarMar, nor MarBar, names of beach bars. The submarine pipeline will receive the title of H2Med, it will be conceived for the transport of hydrogen, although technically it could also transport gas when it came into service, never before 2030. As a vector of a new green energy it will receive help from the European funds destined to accelerate the energy transition.
Pink hydrogen (through nuclear energy) will compete with green and France is going for it
Three possible submarine routes between Barcelona and Marseille are being studied and it is not ruled out that an arm of the pipeline also connects with the Italian port of Livorno, according to sources familiar with the project. The construction of a gas pipeline between Barcelona and Livorno was proposed a few months ago by the government of Madrio Draghi , given the weakness of the Italian regasification plants and the French refusal to restart the Midcat. It will be necessary to see now what is the idea of Giorgia Meloni who maintains a very icy relationship with Emmanuel Macron . Italy could end up entering the pact between France, Spain and Portugal. Also for this reason, the route will receive the name of H2Med, the Mediterranean hydrogen corridor. The underwater branch of the Via Augusta.
This is the project that, if there are no last-minute difficulties, will be ratified next Thursday in Alicante by President Macron, Pedro Sanchez Y Antonio Costa , hours before the Euro-Mediterranean summit begins in that city, which will also bring together the heads of government of Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Cyprus and Greece. Meloni is scheduled to participate in the summit. It will be her first trip to Spain as Prime Minister of Italy.
Agreement in Alicante to build the H2Med within seven years. Political decision with big questions still to be resolved. After keeping the Midcat paralyzed, Macron could not slam the door on Spain and Portugal in the current European situation. Paris has gotten away with it, there will not be a gas pipeline between the Iberian Peninsula and Germany crossing French territory, but it had to offer a way out, an alternative that may be favorable to it in the medium term, as we will see in the following lines. That alternative is the H2Med, the underwater branch of the Via Augusta for the transport of the most innovative fuel of the 21st century, depending on how technology evolves.
The conditional is required. Large-scale hydrogen manufacturing is still a hypothesis around the world. Hydrogen without traces of carbon can be obtained in two ways: carrying out electrolysis with wind and solar thermal energy (green hydrogen) or separating the water molecules with nuclear energy (pink hydrogen). Both processes require a lot of water,
With current technologies, electrolysis requires high volumes of purified water, not necessarily drinkable. The process would be even more expensive in the case of using desalinated seawater. It is estimated that to obtain one kilogram of green hydrogen, 11 liters of water are needed. These are not minor proportions for a country with water difficulties.
When asked about it, sources from the Ministry of Ecological Transition point out that to obtain the so-called gray hydrogen (hydrogen extraction from natural gas), an industrial process that is currently taking place in Spain, larger amounts of water are needed. These same sources reason that the conversion process from gray to green hydrogen will not lead to greater water consumption, on the contrary. The initial objective is to reach 2030 with a production of green hydrogen equivalent to 25% of the gray hydrogen that is currently produced. (500,000 tons per year). This would mean a production of 125,000 tons of green hydrogen, at a rate of 11,000 liters of water for each ton.
A branch of the Barcelona-Marseille pipeline could connect with the Italian port of Livorno
The H2Med, according to the same sources, would have the capacity to transport 10% of the annual consumption of green hydrogen in the entire EU to France and central Europe, which is estimated at 20 million tons per year in 2030. That is, the new driving could transport about two million tons per year. Will Spain and Portugal be capable of producing a surplus of two million tons of H2 once domestic demand is met, which is expected to be growing?
If enough green hydrogen cannot be produced in the Iberian Peninsula, due to water problems or insufficient technological investment, the competition will be won by the pink hydrogen that France wants to manufacture when its nuclear power plants are back to full capacity. The H2Med would then work in the reverse direction, to sell French hydrogen to Spain, Portugal and Italy. Green or pink, this may be one of the energetic competitions of the thirties.
But what is important now is the political decision to build the pipeline. Geography has won another battle.