In the race towards a greener and more sustainable future, hydrogen has emerged as a game-changer in the energy landscape. Just three years ago, the concept of hydrogen was met with skepticism, but today, it has become the focus of ambitious projects across Spain, each vying to establish its own “hydrogen valley.”
These public-private business ecosystems are designed to foster hydrogen production and consumption, and Spain has envisioned 11 such valleys spread across the nation, from Puertollano and Huelva to Soria, A Coruña, and even Mallorca. The collective investment in these initiatives is estimated to reach a staggering 21.9 billion euros by 2030, as reported by the Spanish Hydrogen Association (AEH2).
The primary goal of these hydrogen valleys is to drive the decarbonization of various sectors, including industry, residential energy, and mobility, with a particular focus on aviation and maritime transport. The potential impact is immense, with hydrogen production expected to contribute up to 12% of the energy mix by 2050, as calculated by the International Renewable Energy Agency. The development of projects linked to green hydrogen is anticipated to create approximately 227,000 new jobs in Spain by 2030, according to AEH2 estimates. Key players such as Repsol, Cepsa, and Enagás are at the forefront of establishing these business and university ecosystems, collectively aiming to produce between 1 and 1.7 million tons of hydrogen annually. This production will not only meet national demand but also contribute 10% of the total hydrogen consumption target for Europe.
The European Union has recommended the establishment of hydrogen valleys due to their numerous advantages. By bringing together public institutions, research entities, and private companies, these valleys enable increased hydrogen production and distribution, covering larger geographic areas. Such a setup facilitates the efficient development of hydrogen sectors while optimizing production, transformation, and logistics costs.
One crucial aspect of these valleys is their commitment to large-scale projects that can significantly boost local economies. For instance, the Andalusian Green Hydrogen Valley alone is expected to generate 10,000 jobs and elevate the economic activity of more than 400 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region. This energy ecosystem provides access to affordable, safe, and sustainable energy, propelling industrial activity in the area while remaining close to production centers.
From North to South, Spain is witnessing the emergence of prominent hydrogen valleys. Puertollano, located in Ciudad Real, holds a pivotal position and houses the headquarters of the National Hydrogen Center. As part of the H2Med project, this city will be connected to Germany through a green hydrogen pipeline stretching from Huelva to Barcelona. Iberdrola operates the largest green hydrogen plant for industrial use in Europe in Puertollano, capable of producing 3,000 tons of hydrogen annually for Fertiberia. This location is also home to several other infrastructure projects, driven by Repsol and RIC Energy, with a potential capacity of 30 MW, scaling up to 100 MW in the future. The Hydrogen Cluster of Castilla La Mancha further propels hydrogen initiatives in Puertollano, with collaboration from 41 companies and partnerships with universities and technology centers in Spain and the Netherlands.
In the southern part of Spain, the Andalusian Green Hydrogen Valley stands out, led by Cepsa with a substantial budget of 3 billion euros. This ambitious project spans two poles: one in Palos de la Frontera (Huelva) adjacent to Fertiberia and another in San Roque (Campo de Gibraltar, Cádiz) in partnership with EDP. The combined capacity of these plants is expected to reach 2 gigawatts (GW), producing 300,000 tons of green hydrogen annually, which will fuel sustainable biofuels for aviation and both land and sea freight transport.
In Catalonia, the H2ValleyCat takes center stage, spearheaded by Repsol, Enagás, and the Universitat Rovira i Virgili. This ambitious ecosystem comprises over 260 public and private actors, including the Port of Barcelona, Cepsa, FCC, and Vueling. It is well-connected with the Hydrogen Valley of Aragon, the Navarre Green Hydrogen Agenda, and the Basque Hydrogen Corridor through the Ebro Hydrogen Corridor. Repsol’s SHYNE consortium leads the latter initiative, with contributions from 22 other companies and 11 associations.
The hydrogen revolution is not confined to Spain alone; the entire European Union is actively promoting hydrogen production to achieve energy independence. Spain is a key player in this endeavor, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with nations like the Netherlands and Germany. Notably, the Netherlands’ NorthH2 project aims to generate 4 GW of green hydrogen by 2030 using offshore wind, while Germany’s AquaVentus consortium envisions building 10 GW by 2035. In Spain, 62 hydrogen initiatives have been selected, with a total investment of 33 billion euros, potentially receiving 8 billion euros in public funds.
The European Union’s vision is to produce 10 million tons of green hydrogen by 2030 and import an additional 10 million tons from non-EU countries. This clean energy movement is attracting significant investment, with a McKinsey report estimating the investment in hydrogen projects across Europe to amount to a staggering 117 billion euros, constituting 35% of the global hydrogen investment.
As Spain takes center stage in the green hydrogen revolution, the Hydrogen Roadmap forecasts a hydrogen production capacity of 11 GW by 2030, with an investment of 8.9 billion euros from both companies and the public sector. This surge in hydrogen production is projected to provide between 1 and 1.7 million tons of hydrogen annually in Spain, and an additional 750,000 tons from Portugal, meeting national demand while exporting surplus hydrogen to Europe, particularly to high-consumption markets like Germany. The future of hydrogen valleys in Spain holds the promise of cleaner energy, robust job creation, and a sustainable pathway to decarbonize various sectors and contribute to a greener Europe.