Iberdrola promises that by March of next year, the Puertollano (Ciudad Real) green hydrogen plant would be “completely operational.”
“The largest plant with these features for industrial usage in Europe,” according to this company’s project. Because it is the first pilot plant of these kinds built in the world, the plant’s start-up will be gradual, according to Javier Plaza, director of operations at Iberdrola’s green hydrogen plant in Puertollano, “with tests and definitions that will not have to continue in the coming weeks, until optimum production is achieved.”
The Fertiberia company will develop large-scale green ammonia with the new technology, making it the first European company in the fertilizer sector. This will mean a reduction “that could reach” up to 10% of the gas it has been using. The green hydrogen produced in Puertollano will be used for the next 20 years in the factory that the Fertiberia company has in the same industrial complex.
After the plant’s first startup phase, according to Plaza, it may be possible to use the oxygen that is split from hydrogen during the electrolysis process industrially rather than releasing it into the atmosphere.
However, it is also intended to use the leftover heat from the electrolysis process to supply hot water to the new hospital being built in Puertollano. To do this, a 6-kilometer pipeline connecting the Iberdrola facility and the hospital must be connected.
Plaza emphasized the entire sustainability of green hydrogen as an energy source, which does not release damaging gases during production or combustion, as well as the decrease in water consumption during production compared to gray hydrogen produced by reforming fossil fuels.
He has explained that in this way, 10 liters of water are used for every kilo of green hydrogen produced as opposed to 22 liters for the production of gray hydrogen. Additionally, he added, “its simple storage or adaptability to be converted into power or synthetic fuels.”
The green hydrogen plant, in which Iberdrola has invested 150 million euros, has the ability to create up to 3,000 tons of renewable hydrogen annually “at full capacity, 24 hours a day.” According to the Iberdrola CEO, using renewable energy will help save up to 48,000 tons of carbon dioxide when these projections are realized.
Bifacial solar panels, which have two surfaces sensitive to electric light and a technology that optimizes performance and makes better use of the surface, are used in a 35-megawatt solar facility to generate the energy required to produce hydrogen.
The photovoltaic project also incorporates a 20-megawatt-hour lithium-ion battery storage system, which enables the management of plant hours and optimization of control procedures in the absence of solar radiation.
On the other hand, the Cummins brand electrolyzer, which uses power from the photovoltaic plant to electrolyze water to separate hydrogen and oxygen molecules, is made up of 16 cells designed specifically for this 1.25-megawatt plant. PEM technology (proton exchange membrane) is used in each cell’s solid electrolyte, “allowing a better and faster adjustment to changes in electrical generation depending on the time of day or weather conditions.”
The plant contains a total of eleven 23.5-meter-high, 2.8-meter-diameter tanks built of special steel with a sheet thickness of 4.5 centimeters that can store up to 6000 kilos of hydrogen at 60 bar pressure in order to ensure the reliability of Fertiberia’s supply.
Plaza has emphasized that the Iberdrola plant, which King Felipe VI officially opened in May and started testing in June, plans to build a second phase in Puertollano of 211 megawatts by 2025, following the construction of another 229-megawatt green hydrogen plant in the town of Huelva de Palos de la Frontera.
According to Iberdrola’s plan, it will cost 1,800 million euros to produce 40,000 tons of green hydrogen by 2027, which is 20% more than the target set in Spain. Since green hydrogen doesn’t release any harmful gases during the production process, it is regarded as one of the most important new renewable energy sources to help the industry move toward decarbonization.
Plaza applauded the interest generated by the Puertollano Green Hydrogen Plant’s industrial pilot project, which frequently draws engineers and managers from businesses and institutions in nations “from Japan to Australia, or African countries, America and Europe.”
The expense of hydrogen’s manufacture is the biggest barrier to its use in road transportation.
After the 2.5 megawatt plant established in the Barcelona free zone, which provides this clean energy to many city buses in Barcelona, Iberdrola is building a 20-megawatt green hydrogen plant in Puertollano.