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Cheaper green hydrogen to be produced in La Guajira

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By the end of 2021 Colombia launched the green hydrogen roadmap. It is a document that joins another series of initiatives for this energy source to start receiving greater investment and join the energy matrix.

Irene Vélez, Minister of Mines and Energy, pointed out that the country has the potential to be “one of the main players in this market”.

In Colombia there was already hydrogen production in Ecopetrol’s operation, however it was of the gray type. That is, it was produced from fossil fuels. However, in March 2022, the state oil company informed that it had started the production of the green energy from non-conventional renewable energies in the Cartagena Refinery.

This step was added to Promigas’ initiative to install a pilot to inject this energy into the natural gas network.

There are now 11 projects, 9 of which are under development and 2 in operation, according to an analysis by H2 LAC. In this way the country advances in what could be one of the main energy sources to achieve decarbonization, as proposed in the aforementioned roadmap. Ecopetrol has two other projects under development, in addition to the one already underway, while Celsia, Ocensa, Sebastopol Refinery, Opex and 4 others have one in process.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in 2019 there was a demand of 0.2 metric tons of hydrogen (MtH2) in the country, out of a total of 4.1 MtH2 required in the region. The Energy portfolio found that by 2030 the demand will be 100 kilotonnes (KtH2) each year.

One of the main factors to take into account with this energy source is the cost of producing it. According to IEA data, by 2050 it could cost between US$0.8 and US$2.6 per kilogram in Colombia, depending on the area. For example, La Guajira would be the most cost-efficient area for producing one kilogram, ranging between US$0.8 and US$1.2.

The roadmap estimates that by 2030 it would cost US$1.7 to produce at a national level, which would be a price similar to that of other producing nations. Jorge Almanza, CEO of Enersinc, points out that this is one of the challenges of this technology, which for now its price makes it uncompetitive compared to others.

Climatic conditions will be fundamental for competitiveness in terms of production. For example, La Guajira has very favorable conditions of radiation and wind speed, so its productivity is higher.

Among the applications of this energy source are transportation, creation of raw materials, infrastructure, injection into gas networks, among others. Its use would reduce CO2 emissions.

Hydrogen Colombia and Minister Velez met to discuss the creation of working groups to promote the use of this energy source. “We are pleased to know that hydrogen is a priority for the government,” said Monica Gasca, director of the guild. “The promotion of new technologies and innovative business development schemes are an opportunity to continue consolidating the country’s energy transition, bring sustainable investments and create jobs,” she added.

The challenge now will be to find the mechanisms to make more projects of this type and at the same time make it competitive.

Nedim Husomanovic

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