Following a year of multiple announcements of green hydrogen projects across Europe, there are now plans for a major hydrogen corridor to be built between Southern and Northern Europe. This new link could be the first of many, creating the prototype to connect various regions worldwide and offer renewable energy sharing capabilities. The Spanish energy firm Compañía Española de Petróleos (Cepsa) has partnered with the Port of Rotterdam to establish “the first green hydrogen corridor between southern and northern Europe”. Cepsa announced, last week, that it would be developing a green hydrogen supply chain between two of Europe’s main ports - the Port of Algeciras in southern Spain and the Dutch Port of Rotterdam, as the oil and gas firm moves into the world of renewables.
Cepsa will be exporting hydrogen produced at its San Roque Energy Park near the Bay of Algeciras through hydrogen carriers such as ammonia or methanol, according to the company. The Port of Rotterdam manages 13 percent of Europe’s energy demand, making it the most important energy port in the region. While the Port of Algeciras provides a key trade link between Europe and Asia. The Dutch government, the Port Authority, and several private companies are funding the development of infrastructure and facilities to support the importation of green hydrogen and its transportation to other northern European countries via pipelines. The new corridor will support Rotterdam’s target of supplying Northwest Europe with 4.6 million tonnes of green hydrogen by the end of the decade.
The new energy transport route responds to the EU’s renewable energy strategy RePower EU. The hydrogen corridor is expected to come into operation in 2027 and will be supported by another hydrogen link to Cepsa’s La Rábida Energy Park in Huelva. Maarten Wetselaar, CEO of Cepsa, stated “The opportunity to build the first green hydrogen corridor in Algeciras, the leading energy port in Spain, demonstrates the unique role that Spain, and in particular Andalusia, will play in the energy transition in Europe. Spain is ideally placed to become a world leader in the production and export of green hydrogen, given its strategic location, abundant generation of renewable energies, and its robust energy infrastructures and key ports, such as Algeciras and Huelva. Cepsa, the main energy company in Andalusia, intends to play a leading role in realizing this vision.”
The Port of Rotterdam Authority’s CEO, Allard Castelein, explained “Setting up this trade lane between Algeciras and Rotterdam is a substantial contribution to Europe’s ambition to reduce CO2-emissions as well as increase Europe’s energy independency and stimulate our economies.” He also stated, northwest Europe used “far more energy than it can produce in a sustainable way,” and “we are therefore setting up multiple trade lanes for green hydrogen, together with exporting countries and private businesses all over the world.”
Europe’s green hydrogen industry has been steadily growing in recent years, particularly following last year’s COP26 climate summit. In 2020, the EU established a ‘Green Deal’, which provides a three-step plan for the development of the region’s green hydrogen industry, including the implementation of green hydrogen production and consumption across several industries by 2024, the creation of interconnected ‘hydrogen valleys’ by 2030, and the creation of a large European hydrogen infrastructure.
Spain is currently leading Europe’s green hydrogen ambitions, with Repsol investing $4.4 billion in the sector. The energy company is leading a consortium of 33 companies and organisations in developing Spain’s green hydrogen industry. The southern European country expects to establish a green hydrogen capacity of 500 MW by 2025 and 2 GW by 2030, with a final government target of 4 GW. The EU’s requirement for greater hydrogen data reporting from all member states, which commenced in February, is also expected to support the development of a cohesive hydrogen industry across Europe.
The European Commission (EC) is aiming for 40 GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers to be installed in the EU by 2030. The development of a largescale hydrogen sector is key for Europe, as it continues to battle with oil and gas shortages and rising energy prices. The EC’s President, Ursula von der Leyen, announced, last month, the establishment of a European Hydrogen Bank, with hopes of pumping $2.91 billion in funding into Europe’s hydrogen market.
The new hydrogen corridor announcement is likely to be the first of many, as companies are exploring the potential for greater renewable energy sharing and connectivity via pipelines and major undersea cables. As the world transitions away from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives, governments and energy firms will be looking to repurpose existing infrastructure, such as natural gas pipelines, to transport green hydrogen. The European Hydrogen Backbone (EHB) initiative, consisting of thirty-one energy infrastructure operators, has proposed five green hydrogen corridors in Europe. Other green hydrogen corridor initiatives are also under assessment in South Africa, Korea, and several other parts of the world.
By Felicity Bradstock for Oilprice.com
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