Recently, Spain, Portugal, and France unveiled the first details of the H2Med pipeline, formerly known as BarMar, which will pass through Barcelona and Zamora to provide about 2 million tons of green hydrogen annually to France and Portugal. The corridor will cost about 2.5 billion euros and might “be ready by the end of this decade,” sending exclusively green hydrogen. This was clarified by the government’s president, Pedro Sánchez, in a joint statement made at the H2Med Summit in Alicante, which also included the presidents of France, Emmanuel Macron; Portugal, António Costa; and the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen.
The Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, was also supposed to attend the conference, but she had to cancel because of the virus. However, the Spanish president claims that Sánchez and Meloni spoke on the phone. The three CEOs will submit the H2Med on December 15 in order to have Brussels designate it as a Project of Common Interest since the project hopes to get community funding. With this corridor, we reaffirm a dual promise: we strengthen the European Union’s energy security and strategic autonomy at a crucial juncture and we reaffirm our commitment to climate neutrality, according to Sánchez.
The project will include two portions and is referred to by the Spanish president as the “first big hydrogen corridor in the European Union.” The first route, which is 248 kilometers long, will connect the Portuguese city of Celorico da Beira with Zamora. Construction is anticipated to take around four years, including the anticipated time of just over two years for permit acquisition. It will cost about 350 million euros to complete this component. Barcelona and Marseille, France will be connected by the second phase, which will span the Mediterranean. Including the time for obtaining permits, construction will take four and a half years and be 455 kilometers long. It’ll cost somewhere between 2.5 and 3 billion euros.
As a result, the project’s overall cost would be at least 2,500 million euros, even if it is anticipated to be able to finance up to 50% under the EU mechanism “Connecting Europe” (CEF, for short), which is designed to support the development of trans-European networks in the energy sector. “Spain aspires to take the initiative in the commitment to the energy transition, alongside Portugal and France. We are already at the forefront of the development of renewable energy sources, and we aim to lead the way globally in the use of hydrogen, according to Sánchez. In order to make H2Med a project of shared interest, Von der Leyen has made sure that it “goes right in the correct path” and that he “supports” its impending presentation. He noted that “the Iberian Peninsula is destined to become a vital energy gateway for the entire globe” and added, “It has the ability to enable us establish a European backbone to transport hydrogen.”
Additionally, he has said that it is a “promising beginning” and that other potential corridors are being investigated in Europe, along with agreements being established with Egypt and Morocco for the energy link with other Mediterranean countries. According to the H2Med roadmap, construction could start in 2025, and by 2030, it is expected to transport 10%, or around two million tons annually, of the green hydrogen used in the European Union. The corridor has two primary purposes, according to the presidents of Spain, Portugal, France, and the Commission. The first is to strengthen energy security in light of the vulnerability caused by the conflict in Ukraine. “We are no longer going to be simple importers of energy. The Portuguese president António Costa stated that “the project serves the interests of the entire European Union” and that it is vital to “diversify” the routes and sources. “Now we are going to reinforce our position as producers and exporters of energy to the rest of Europe.” It is a great illustration of how three nations can work together for the welfare of the EU as a whole, he continued.
The second is to adhere to the European Union’s commitment to climate neutrality and make progress toward the target of producing 20 million tons of renewable hydrogen in the European Union by 2030, of which 10 million must be produced domestically, as set by the Member States in the RePower EU plan. “For us, it completely aligns with the overall approach. We want to achieve an ecological goal, reduce emissions, and gradually move away from fossil fuels to electrify the entire continent of Europe with hydrogen, as well as a goal of industrialization and innovation on the continent,” said French President Emmanuel Macron. His country had previously expressed opposition to the construction of the MidCat, a gas pipeline project that would connect Spain with France through Catalonia.
Sánchez reaffirmed Spain’s dedication to green hydrogen and emphasized the creation of a plan for its promotion. It calls for the installation of electrolysers with a 4 GW installed capacity as well as the use of hydrogen generators, trains, and large transport vehicles. Even if the majority of the initiatives are in the pilot stage, our nation also amasses 20% of the global projects, second only to the United States. Green hydrogen uses methods like electrolysis and is based on the usage of renewable energies like wind or photovoltaics. In this manner, the water molecules are divided into oxygen and hydrogen, with the latter being directed towards fuel cells where it recombines with atmospheric oxygen to produce electricity. It leaves hardly any residue, but the process’s poor energy efficiency and high production costs are by far its main drawbacks. According to estimates, between 50% and 80% of the energy used to manufacture it would be lost depending on how it was used. Although this performance may be boosted by up to 70% with present technology, electric batteries, which produce more waste but have an efficiency of over 90%, are still considerably superior.