A delegation of three auditors from the Court of Auditors of the EU is visiting Spain this week to evaluate the progress of green hydrogen in the country.
The primary objective of the visit is to determine the perception of the private sector involved in the takeoff of renewable gas, including major companies such as Iberdrola, Fertiberia, and Repsol.
The auditors plan to meet with the heads of the Treasury, Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Industry and Science portfolios, as well as with the Secretaries of State, to understand how Spain is using the money from the fund subsidies, to which companies they are being granted, for what purpose, how the controls work, and what deadlines have been set.
The companies will use the opportunity of the European delegation’s visit to voice their concerns about the slow pace at which the aid is arriving and request greater intensity in non-refundable aid. They will also point out the deficiencies of the subsidies to achieve their objectives, emphasizing that they are making significant investments to make the energy transition possible.
The auditors want to assess the situation of the Perte ERHA (renewable energy, renewable hydrogen, and storage), the progress in the National Integrated and Climate Plan (Pniec), and the modifications with the entry of renewable gas in the Repower EU plan. They also seek to analyze what mechanisms the Ministry of Ecological Transition is implementing and how these are being adjusted to the interests and needs of companies.
The Perte, the strategic project to relaunch green hydrogen, is progressing slowly, and industry sources are pushing for more to be done. They claim that Spain already has the funds to support the project, with an initial valuation of the roadmap being €1.5 billion. However, the first two financings that were released, to promote the value chain and the so-called ‘pioneers,’ respectively, only amounted to €400 million: €150 and €250 million, respectively.
The government is optimistic and does not expect the EU delegation’s visit to be hostile, but small and medium-sized companies have had to make a significant financial effort, and their investment plans have been restructured due to the lack of project grants.
The European delegation will visit the green hydrogen hub built in Puertollano (Ciudad Real) to learn about the entire framework that has been established there. They will also visit the Iberdrola plant, which includes a 100 MW photovoltaic solar plant, a lithium-ion battery system with a storage capacity of 20 MWh, and one of the largest hydrogen production systems through electrolysis in the world, up to 20 MW. The investment will mobilize around €150 million, and it is expected that up to 1,000 jobs will be created. Finally, new projects, such as a plant to produce green steel, will boost this hydrogen hub.
The visit of the European delegation highlights the increasing importance of green hydrogen in achieving climate targets and the role of private sector companies in implementing these initiatives. The assessment of Spain’s progress and the allocation of funds and subsidies by the auditors will also help ensure transparency and accountability in the use of public funds.