Assuming willingness to finance it if it meets “eligibility criteria,” the European Investment Bank (EIB) is in “exploratory talks” with Portugal, Spain, and France on the future green hydrogen-fit maritime pipeline to boost Iberian interconnectivity.

In an interview with the Lusa agency in Lisbon, the vice president of the EIB, Ricardo Mourinho Félix, stated that the Bank of the European Union is “obviously available and wants to look at this project or other projects of a similar nature and understand if this project is likely to be framed in what are the eligibility, that is, whether it is a transport project that can reach 100% low-carbon gases, in particular “green” hydrogen, and whether it is eligible.

According to the official, the EIB finances anything that is a transportation corridor, whether it be electricity or low-carbon gases, which are the gases and forms of energy of the future. “We have an energy financing policy that is very clear and the EIB does not finance […] any technology based on fossil fuels.”

Ricardo Mourinho Félix believes it’s critical that this future energy corridor “can be utilized and ready to transport […] hydrogen, albeit in the concise term it can carry a combination,” despite pointing out that the EIB is still unsure of “the characteristics of the project.”

According to the statement, “It is likely, from a technical perspective, to have combinations of low-carbon gases with gases still of fossil origin. Therefore, in the very near future, when there is still a need for “green” hydrogen, we can consider this project, provided that it satisfies the project’s eligibility requirements.

Ricardo Mourinho Félix claims that “there are already exploratory contacts,” specifically with Portugal.

The responsible party informs Lusa, “I have already discussed this topic with some members of the Government and stated that we are always available. Therefore, when they consider that the project is sufficiently developed at the political level, we can start looking at this project and also understand how we can think of a project that has the necessary characteristics to be able to be financed.

The governments of Portugal, France, and Spain decided to speed up interconnections in the Iberian Peninsula at the end of October in Brussels, abandoning the previous project that was only intended for gas in favor of one that includes a maritime gas pipeline, as well as early transportation of this fossil fuel, to the future for “green” hydrogen.

In order to move on with a “Green Energy Corridor,” via water, between Barcelona and Marseille (BarMar), the chiefs of state and government of these three nations, António Costa, Pedro Sánchez, and Emmanuel Macron, decided against crossing the Pyrenees (MidCat).

The two leaders of Iberia and the president of France also concurred on the necessity of completing future renewable gas interconnections between Portugal and Spain, particularly the connection between Celorico da Beira and Zamora (CelZa).

António Costa has already stated that he hopes that this new project can be fully funded by European funds through the Connecting Europe Facility. However, for this to happen, it should be recognized as a project of common interest, a designation is given to infrastructure projects for EU energy systems, such as interconnectors, which enable nations to benefit from accelerated licensing and financing procedures.

According to the theory, the Iberian Peninsula’s new infrastructure enables the distribution of “green” hydrogen and is technically equipped to carry other renewable gases, but at first, will be reliant on a small amount of natural gas as a temporary and transitional energy source.

Ricardo Mourinho Félix, a former deputy secretary of state for finance, was named vice president of the EIB in October 2020.

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