Competitiveness and technological development will be the keys to the success of hydrogen development in Spain

WhatsApp Image 2021-06-30 at 10.49.34 Energy and environment

Javier Brey, Chairman of the Spanish Hydrogen Association (AeH2), and Raúl Yunta, Chairman of MIBGAS, discuss the development of hydrogen in an online debate set up by the Naturgy Foundation and the Spanish Chapter of the Club of Rome.

The Naturgy Foundation, together with the Spanish Chapter of the Club of Rome, held the 'Conversations on the development of hydrogen and its markets’ webinar today, with Javier Brey, Chairman of the Spanish Hydrogen Association (AeH2), and Raúl Yunta, Chairman of MIBGAS. The two experts agreed on hydrogen being the key energy vector for decarbonisation and that Spain is very well positioned to develop this technology, especially with the help of Next Generation European recovery funds.

Brey maintained that "Hydrogen has come to stay because it is a global commitment, due to it being seen as a global solution for decarbonisation and because of the drop in the price of renewable energy, which is the raw material for the production of green hydrogen".

Yunta, who agreed with Brey in regard to the crucial role that green hydrogen will play in the future of Spain´s energy framework, stressed that “for hydrogen to be useful it has to be competitive”. Regarding this, he reminded us that “although electrolysis has not yet reached a sufficient level of competitiveness, we are on the right track, and the roadmap approved by the government is a good step towards that ”. However he also insisted that “for green hydrogen to be competitive very cheap renewable electricity has to be available”.

Accordingly, Yunta also highlighted the need to speed up the development of certifications of origin to guarantee market signals, a milestone in the development of both hydrogen and the rest of renewable gases that is established in the Renewable Energies Directive.

Brey also placed importance on the role hydrogen plays in seasonal energy management which cannot be done with batteries. "If we accept the objectives of the PNIEC (National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan) as valid, we can shape a model in which we have a surplus of energy supply on a seasonal basis and hydrogen can be the solution for this, as we already have today with natural gas," said the chairman of AeH2. .

The Mibgas chairman also highlighted the use of hydrogen to strengthen the electricity supply through power-to-gas and gas-to-power as an efficient method of connecting energy infrastructures. "This is one of the most immediate uses" he said.

The transport challenge

Yunta also referred to the use of current gas infrastructures when facing the challenge of hydrogen transport, an option that he described as "a very smart first step". And when referring to the decarbonisation process, he urged not to forget "other renewable gases such as biogas or biomethane, which is already highly developed throughout Europe and which we can start making the most of now."

For his part, Brey highlighted the potential of the Spanish hydrogen industry, which is present throughout the value chain, as well as R&D.  Accordingly, he pointed out that 3.6% of scientific publications on hydrogen are Spanish, and in that respect he stated that “European funds should be used not only to produce and comply with the Hydrogen Roadmap, but also to research and produce technology and infrastructure ” for this energy vector.

Brey also mentioned that "our country is called on to become one of the main producers of green hydrogen at a cheaper price than in northern Europe, where we will be able to export." “We are currently a natural gas hub, and we will be a hydrogen hub too”, he added.

However, both were cautious with regard to the “boom” of hydrogen projects over the last two years. "We have had quite a bit of experience in the past that can be used for our benefit, but I don´t think it will get to the point that there are market mechanisms to confirm price signals," said Yunta. Brey, for his part, sees this situation as a show of interest from industry and was convinced that there will be “a natural selection, with the ideas and innovations pushing forward”.

The webinar was opened by the general manager of the Naturgy Foundation, María Eugenia Coronado, who once again highlighted the need to reflect on the development of this new energy vector, “due to the potential it has in the transition we are experiencing to contribute to the economy´s decarbonisation ”.

For his part, José Manuel Morán, Vice Chairman of the Spanish Chapter of the Club of Rome, stated that “we are facing enormous complexity and uncertainty, but Spain has a privileged position in the development of renewable energies”, and recalled that “green hydrogen will be the stabilising factor that will take us to 2050 ”.