As part of Colombia’s ambition to expand hydrogen energy choices, state-controlled Ecopetrol is examining 18 prospective hydrogen projects, including pilot projects for its Cartagena and Barrancabermeja refineries that would require between $200 million to $300 million in investment.
Ecopetrol is one of eight Colombian businesses that signed a statement pledging to build hydrogen projects, including Grupo de Energia de Bogota. Colombia’s 30-year hydrogen plan was formally announced.
Ecopetrol stated at a news conference that it aims to import a small electrolyzer from Spain in the first quarter of 2022 to evaluate the production and application of the developing fuel at its 165,000 b/d Cartagena refinery on the Caribbean coast.
Electrolyzers powered by renewable energy separate hydrogen from oxygen in water, resulting in “green” hydrogen suitable for a wide range of industrial uses. Ecopetrol refused to reveal the identity of the electrolyser’s maker or any further information.
Ecopetrol’s refining system in Colombia now utilizes up to 130,000 t/yr of grey hydrogen produced from fossil fuels, with 68 percent consumed in Cartagena and 32 percent consumed in the Santander department’s 250,000 b/d Barrancabermeja refinery. Sulfur is removed from motor fuels using hydrogen.
Ecopetrol is looking at industry-run hydrogen, hydrogen-powered fleets for light and heavy vehicles, and natural gas-hydrogen hybrids. “To have stability in investments, a sandbox regulatory framework is essential,” Bayon added.
Colombia will begin by producing blue hydrogen from the country’s coal and natural gas resources, before transitioning to green hydrogen generated from renewable energy in the following decade.
“Blue hydrogen would serve as the foundation for growing Colombia’s hydrogen value chain to large-scale competitive green hydrogen development,” Bayon added.
In the short term, the roadmap expects local oil refining, chemical, and fertilizer sectors to drive hydrogen demand, with $2.5-$5.5 billion in largely private-sector investment in hydrogen facilities expected by 2030.
The proposal is for a hydrogen-powered fleet of at least 1,500-2,000 light cars and 1,000-1,500 large vehicles by 2030.
By 2030, Colombia may create at least 50 kilotonnes of blue hydrogen from gas and coal gasification combined with carbon capture and storage. Blue and green hydrogen would coexist on the market in the 2030s and 1940s before the green kind took over around 2040.
The strategy promotes renewable energy hotspots as green hydrogen production and export centers, such as the wind-rich La Guajira area.