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Iberdrola and Fertiberia to invest in Spanish green hydrogen

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World Fertilizer,

Iberdrola and Fertiberia have allied in the hope of seeing Spain become an industrial leader of green hydrogen technology, with hopes to install 800 MW of green hydrogen production capacity through a €1.8 billion investment programme over the next 7 years.

In the next year the partners will commission their first plant in Puertollano, Spain, becoming one of Europe's largest green hydrogen complex for industrial use. The innovative partnership includes plans to develop three additional projects between 2023 and 2027, in the Fertiberia plants of Puertollano and Palos de la Frontera, Huelva, Spain, which could deliver 40 times the capacity of the first plant.

An announcement was made by Ignacio Galán, Chairman of Iberdrola, and Javier Goñi, Chairman of Fertiberia. "This great project that could turn Spain into the first country to obtain 100% of its ammonia production from green energy sources.”

With this "strategic and decisive" step, fertilizers will be manufactured with a high level of effectiveness and environmental efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, as required by the future Common Agricultural Policy. "More than 50% of our turnover already comes from high added value products, a percentage that will exceed 60% in 2023", highlighted Goñi.

The plan would deliver 800 MW of electrolysis, equivalent to 20% of Spain´s national target – which envisages the installation of 4 GW by 2030 - and would ensure that around 25% of the hydrogen currently consumed in Spain is emissions free. "Our green hydrogen plan is a project linked to green investment, which avoids the emission of more than 400 000 t of CO2 into the atmosphere and helps to achieve climate neutrality", explained Galán.

These projects would contribute to the development of the entire value chain, creating almost 4000 qualified jobs – 2000 of them by 2023 – through 500 local suppliers.

The investment would contribute to advancing the technological maturity of green hydrogen and turning it into a solution for efficient decarbonisation in the medium term, both for industries that use it as a raw material and for processes that are difficult to electrify, such as heavy transport.

The project is the result of private and public collaboration, born with the same ambition that the Spanish Government has shown in its Green Hydrogen Roadmap. For the implementation of the last three phases, support from the European Recovery Fund would be required. "To get out of this crisis we need concrete initiatives, which allow us to advance in the much-needed green recovery", explained Galán. In this sense, the Chairman of Iberdrola has expressed his wish that "this project receives the necessary state and European support to get it up and running and, thus, position Spain and Europe at the vanguard of a new technology that is essential for decarbonisation, leading the way to its full commercial competitiveness".

In 2021, Europe's largest green hydrogen complex for industrial use will be operational in Puertollano, Spain, following investment of €150 million. The complex will comprise a 100 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant, a lithium-ion battery system with a storage capacity of 20 MWh and one of the largest systems for producing hydrogen by electrolysis (20 MW). Its development and construction will generate 700 jobs. Once operational, it will prevent the emission of 39 000 t CO2 per year.

Iberdrola is accelerating the construction of this innovation project and, in addition, has already submitted an application to the Innovation Fund for European aid.

The green hydrogen produced will be used in the Fertiberia ammonia plant in Puertollano. The plant is already one of the most efficient in the EU, with a production capacity of over 200 000 t per year. Fertiberia will adapt its plant to the use of green hydrogen for manufacturing green fertilizers, reducing the needs of natural gas in the plant by more than 10%. It will be the first European company in the sector to develop a large-scale experience in the generation of green ammonia.

The plant is being built in a privileged location, an important industrial hub which includes the National Centre of Hydrogen that advised both companies during the process.

Spain and the EU are making progress in the electrification of their economies to achieve full decarbonisation. The contribution of electricity to energy consumption today barely exceeds 20% of the total and should grow three-fold in just 30 years if climate objectives are to be met.

In parallel, there are some energy uses that, for technological reasons, are difficult to electrify. This is the case of high temperature industrial processes and heavy transport. For those, the production of green hydrogen from electrolysis – using renewable energy – is a key factor in the path towards climate neutrality in 2050.

Aware of this challenge, but also of this great opportunity, the EU and the Government of Spain have launched strategies to promote green hydrogen. The EU aims to have 40 GW of green hydrogen electrolysers in just 10 years, while in Spain the goal is 4 GW of installed capacity.

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