A gas station for buses that fills up at night with green hydrogen, a “clean” energy source for transportation as well as other specialized sectors like fertilizer, steel, or even whiskey producers, is located in the outskirts of Barcelona.
Eight buses have used the depot as part of a trial operated by the municipal bus operator and the Spanish energy firm Iberdrola so far, but 64 buses will eventually be added to the initiative. On a full tank of gas, each may drive up to 200 kilometers.
Projects like these are emerging across the continent and beyond as Europe attempts to abandon fossil fuels.
Spain is leading the way in the development of green hydrogen because of the country’s expanding wind and solar power industries as well as its ample area for the massive plants required to produce green hydrogen.
According to the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie, Spain was second only to the United States in the first quarter of 2022 in terms of the percentage of green hydrogen projects throughout the world.
With the European Union increasing its output target for 2030, the conflict in Ukraine has driven Europe to explore other energy sources for Russian gas.
“Spain has become a highly desirable nation for green hydrogen. According to Agence France Press, EU Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen stated in May that “a transition is taking place to mass-scale competitive hydrogen.”
Although the industry is young, experts think it might help the globe win the race to a net-zero future.
The process of electrolysis, which separates water into hydrogen and oxygen by applying an electric current, creates green hydrogen. It is regarded as green since the electricity is produced using renewable energy sources that don’t emit any hazardous gases.
In comparison to other nations, Spain enjoys a number of benefits. It has a system for renewable energy. The energy economics professor at Comillas Pontifical University in Madrid, Rafael Cossent, told VOA in an interview that we have more sun, wind, and space than other northern European nations.
Germany, which has long been a pioneer in solar energy in Europe, is 1.4 times smaller than Spain and has 84 million more people than that country, which has a population of 47 million.
According to Cossent, Spain has an additional advantage over other European nations due to its extensive natural gas network and access to LNG facilities, which may be utilized to transport hydrogen.
Natural gas is now less expensive than green hydrogen because of the high cost of production. Analysts, however, believe that this may be set to change rapidly.
The cost of “blue” hydrogen, which is produced using fossil fuels, is now lower than that of “green” hydrogen, but an estimate by the research firm Bloomberg NEF predicts that by 2030, the cost differential will have reversed.
A $1.56 billion program to promote hydrogen over the next three years was started by the Spanish government, which prioritized renewable energy sources, last year with funding from the EU’s pandemic recovery fund. It will increase the fund to around $9 billion with private investments.
Iberdrola has started a number of initiatives to participate in the “green hydrogen” boom, much as its rival Enagas.
The bus depot in Barcelona, which is about the size of a soccer field, is a 10-year initiative that is unique to Spain.
In Aberdeen and London, similar public transportation networks were established. One more project in the US is a proposed ammonia factory.
Scotch whisky manufacturers are eager to participate in this renewable energy source.
Scotland’s Cromarty Green Hydrogen Project has the capacity to start producing the gas daily in 2024 at a rate of 20 tons.
Green hydrogen will assist in making Scotland’s national drink more environmentally friendly since major whiskey producers Diageo, Glenmorangie, and Whyte & Mackay seek to fulfill carbon reduction objectives.
“One of the answers is using green hydrogen” (to get rid of emissions). It’s not the answer, though. It will never be able to compete with direct electrification, according to Millan Garca-Nola, Iberdrola’s global director of green hydrogen.
“Hydrogen cannot be found in the earth. It differs from natural gas. It costs money to turn power into hydrogen in this way.
According to Garca-Nola, the industry’s commitment to using green hydrogen to lower prices is what counts for the future of the fuel.
If you use this green hydrogen in (the components to produce) a high-end automobile like a Mercedes Benz, maybe tomorrow you’ll use it in a less expensive car like a Renault, he said.
He cautioned that in order to fulfill the 2030 EU objective, the race to produce green hydrogen must pick up speed.
“We are in the same position as renewable energy sources were twenty years ago, but we don’t have that long to do this. We cannot wait more than 20 years to do this. Only eight years remain till 2030, according to Garca-Tola.