The first well in all of Europe to extract this kind of subterranean hydrogen will be in Spain. In this manner, the nation can emerge as the primary European source of environmentally friendly hydrogen.
Two subsurface reservoirs in Monzón and Barbastro are where Helios Aragón PTE, a subsidiary of the international oil corporation British Petroleum and Axion in Spain, plans to harvest natural hydrogen and helium, two gases with a very restricted presence on the earth’s surface. In order to start extracting these highly sought-after elements in 2028 and so establish the first natural hydrogen hub in Europe, the company suggests investing 900 million euros. This would result in the creation of 300 direct, highly qualified employment as well as 1,500 indirect jobs.
The proposal encounters a huge barrier, though, with the country’s present climate change laws. The Spanish government classifies pure hydrogen, which has never been mined on the ancient continent, as a hydrocarbon (just like oil), despite the fact that its chemical makeup indicates otherwise. The corporation intends to include the use of natural hydrogen in the Spanish Mining Code, a move that France just made, as the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons is outlawed as of 2021.
Because it rarely occurs on Earth in its pure form—it is typically created from other substances—this gas is known as golden hydrogen. Energy experts estimate its market price to be 0.75 euros per kilogram, which is quite competitive compared to green hydrogen, which costs between 7 and 8 euros per kilogram and is produced from excess renewable energy.
So, the Pyrenees’ presence being discovered has piqued investor interest. The deposits are situated in a region that covers over 90,000 hectares, of which Helios Aragón PTE, a Singapore-based firm founded five years ago, holds exploration rights for 60,200 hectares. The lack of legislation in this area is justified by the fact that natural hydrogen has never been mined in Europe or Spain because, until recently, it was a gas of limited utility.
The minor reserve of helium in the Pyrenees Pyrenees, which was found in that most recent survey and could account for up to 4% of the total gas in this natural storage, must be added to the highly unusual existence of “gold” hydrogen in Spain. One of the most sought-after gases on the market is helium, whose price has increased by 250% in the previous five years and can reach levels that are 100 times higher than those of natural gas. Despite the fact that this gas accounts for 10% of the nation’s economy and is used in scanners, there is no production of this kind in Spain.
The project is currently in its second phase, which will last from 2023 to 2024 and entails resource scope verification, well approval, drilling of the exploratory well, and environmental evaluation of the project. only if the legislation permits the plan to be carried out will the significant investments of roughly 900 million euros start.
Also, once the hydrogen from the reserve is taken, it might be utilized as a storage facility for green hydrogen, which is produced using excess renewable energy sources but whose competitiveness is hampered by both its high cost and extraordinarily difficult conservation. It could only be used for that in 2048 when exploitation reached its port.