Spain is leveraging €1.5bn in EU funds to propel itself into the forefront of the green hydrogen revolution. However, scars from the country’s solar energy missteps in the early 2010s serve as a stark reminder of the importance of careful planning and foresight.
Spain’s commitment to green hydrogen is evident in its ambitious national roadmap, targeting a renewable hydrogen contribution of at least 25% to the total hydrogen consumed by all industries by 2030. Learning from the solar energy debacle, the government is keen to avoid pitfalls, ensuring sustained innovation and industry leadership.
The injection of funds has sparked a surge in startups across the hydrogen supply chain. From electrolysis equipment to software development, Spain is witnessing a remarkable influx of innovative ventures. Notably, the country boasts more hydrogen patents than Germany and Italy, indicating a thriving ecosystem.
The recent conflict in Ukraine has spurred European leaders to reassess their dependence on Russian fossil fuels. This geopolitical reality, coupled with EU funds, has inspired Spanish venture capital firms to invest in cleantech, fueling the growth of green hydrogen startups.
With a target of generating 74% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, Spain’s robust renewable energy production is a linchpin for green hydrogen success. The synergy between renewable energy and hydrogen production underscores the country’s strategic shift towards a sustainable energy landscape.
Despite the momentum, challenges persist. Green hydrogen remains costlier to produce than its fossil fuel counterpart, and issues like intermittent renewable energy availability and uneconomical battery storage linger. However, investors highlight the economic and environmental advantages of using green hydrogen in industries like steel and fertilizers.
Spanish startups are actively contributing to technological advancements. Notable examples include Matteco, developing catalysts and electrodes, and Soren Hydrogen, creating software to optimize electrolyser behavior. These startups, alongside established players like Enagás, Iberdrola, BP, and Repsol, showcase Spain’s prowess in green hydrogen innovation.
The race to decrease the cost of green hydrogen production is on. Ventures like Jolt Electrodes and H2Greem are focusing on improving electrolysers, while FlexiDAO utilizes blockchain technology to track green hydrogen transport in real-time. However, concerns linger that Spain’s innovations might be incremental rather than disruptive, urging a commitment to originality.
Green hydrogen faces stiff competition from electrification, particularly in consumer markets. While Tecnovelero aims to introduce a hydrogen-powered vehicle, electric vehicles currently dominate the market. The battle between the two technologies is intensifying, with green hydrogen carving a niche, especially in heavy transport.