Spain, Portugal and France have presented this Friday the first details of the H2Med pipeline -formerly known as BarMar- which will transport some 2 million tons of green hydrogen per year to France and Portugal through Barcelona and Zamora.
The corridor, which is expected to send only green hydrogen, will cost around 2.5 billion euros and could “be ready by the end of this decade.”
This was explained by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, in a joint statement on the occasion of the H2Med Summit in Alicante, in which the French President, Emmanuel Macron; the Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.The meeting was also scheduled to be attended by the Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, but she has canceled her trip due to the flu. Sánchez and Meloni, however, have had a telephone conversation, according to the Spanish president.
The project aspires to receive community funds, so the three executives will present the H2Med on December 15 so that it can be declared a Project of Common Interest by Brussels. “With this corridor we reiterate a double commitment: we reinforce the energy security and strategic autonomy of the European Union at an essential moment and we reaffirm our determination to climate neutrality”, explained Sánchez.
The project, described by the Spanish president as the “first major hydrogen corridor in the European Union”, will have two sections. The first route will go from the Portuguese town of Celorico da Beira to Zamora, with a length of 248 kilometers. It is estimated that it will take about four years to build, including the estimated period of just over two years to get the permits. This part will cost approximately 350 million euros.
The second section planned will link, across the Mediterranean, Barcelona and the French city of Marseille. It will be 455 kilometers long and will take four and a half years to build, including permitting time. Its price will be around 2.5 billion euros.
The total cost of the project, therefore, would be at least 2,500 million euros, although it is expected to be able to finance up to 50% through the EU mechanism “Connecting Europe” (CEF, for its acronym in English) for the projects. of trans-European networks in the energy sector.
“Spain wants to lead, together with Portugal and France, the commitment to the energy transition. We are already leading the development of renewable energies and we aspire to be a benchmark not only in Europe, but also worldwide, in the field of hydrogen”, said Sánchez .
Von der Leyen has ensured, for his part, that H2Med “goes right in the right direction” and that he “supports” its imminent presentation to make it a project of common interest. “It has the potential to help us build a European backbone to transport hydrogen”, he remarked, after pointing out that “the Iberian Peninsula is going to become a fundamental energy gateway for the whole world”.
He has also indicated that it is a “promising beginning” and that other possible corridors are being sought in Europe, as well as establishing partnerships with Egypt and Morocco for the energy connection with other Mediterranean nations.
The H2Med roadmap states that construction could begin in 2025 and it is intended to transport 10% of the European Union’s green hydrogen consumption by 2030, around two million tons per year.
The corridor, as specified by the Spanish, Portuguese and French leaders and the president of the Commission, serves two main objectives. The first of these is to reinforce energy security in the context of vulnerability due to the war in Ukraine.
“We are no longer going to be mere importers of energy. Now we are going to strengthen our position as producers and exporters of energy to the rest of Europe”, said the Portuguese president António Costa, who stressed that “the project satisfies the interests of all the whole of the European Union” and that it is necessary to “diversify” the routes and sources. “It is a very good example of how three states know how to cooperate with each other to benefit the whole of the EU,” he added.
The second is to comply with the European commitment to climate neutrality and move towards the goal of producing 20 million tons of renewable hydrogen in the European Union by 2030 set by the Member States in the RePower EU plan, of which 10 million They must be domestically produced.
“For us it is fully consistent with the collective strategy. We want to meet an ecological objective, reduce emissions and progressively abandon fossil fuels to move to electrification of the entire European continent with hydrogen; and an objective of industrialization and innovation on the continent “, has pointed out the French president Emmanuel Macron, whose country showed reluctance to the construction of the MidCat – a gas pipeline project that would connect Spain with France through Catalonia – and who, after considering various alternatives, opted for what it now intends to be the first green hydrogen corridor.
Sánchez has reiterated Spain’s commitment to green hydrogen and has highlighted the design of a roadmap to promote it. In it, an installed capacity of 4 gigawatts (GW) of electrolysers is foreseen and the implementation of hydrogen generators, trains and heavy transport vehicles powered by this product. Our country also accumulates 20% of the projects worldwide, only behind the United States, although most are in the pilot phase.
Green hydrogen is based on the use of renewable energies such as wind or photovoltaic and applies techniques such as electrolysis. In this way, the water molecules are separated into oxygen and hydrogen, channeling the latter towards fuel cells, where it unites again with oxygen from the air and generates electricity.
It leaves hardly any residue, but its biggest drawback is the low energy efficiency of the process and the high cost of production. It is estimated that depending on how it is used, between 50% and 80% of the energy consumed to produce it would be lost. With current technology, however, this performance could be increased by up to 70%, but it is still far from electric batteries – which generate more waste, but whose efficiency exceeds 90%.