As happens with the battery sector -where regions such as Europe, including Spain, or North America are investing in its development-, the hydrogen sector is another of the pillars on which the energy transition expected in the coming years is based.

Therefore, many of the world´s leading countries are seeking to position themselves in this sector, taking advantage of the "perfect storm" that currently exists for the implementation of these emerging energy sources, and thanks to figures such as the Paris environmental agreements and the economic subsidies expected as a result of major recovery plans such as the European funds.

Spain is no exception and has been working, in the last few months, with the aim of becoming a hub of reference worldwide

Thus, recently, the Spanish government has approved both the hydrogen roadmap (which seeks to promote 8,900 million in investments until 2030 in this technology, being the European country that will allocate the largest amount after Italy´s 10,000 million) and the energy storage strategy (in which hydrogen plays a key role). With them, it is intended to define a context that encourages and accelerates the development of hydrogen at the state level.

Such is its ambition in this sector, that the Government itself has committed, among other things, to have an electrolyzer capacity of 4GW, which would represent 10% of the European total expected for that year, making it the fourth country with the largest planned capacity in the European continent.

This challenge has been taken up by both the country´s large companies and the regional governments who, taking advantage of the favorable context and the expected investments, have been announcing, in recent months, ambitious plans and projects (many of them public-private partnerships) that will spearhead Spain´s aspirations in terms of hydrogen technologies.

Large companies seek to lead the change

One of the levers on which Spain is relying to achieve its objectives is the great interest shown by the country´s large energy companies in hydrogen technologies.

Some examples of companies that have already announced their interest in the sector and investment plans are Iberdrola, Endesa, Repsol, Naturgy and Enagás. Above all, the first two stand out, not only in the race towards the transition to hydrogen, but also in attracting European funds to finance their ambitious plans (which go beyond this technology).

Thus, the Basque-based company is already working (among others) on projects such as an electrolyzer plant in Guadalajara operational by 2023; on plants for the production of green ammonia together with Fertiberia from 2021 onwards; or on the launch of "hydrogenerators" in the three Basque regional capitals powered by three photovoltaic plants (with the aim of encouraging self-consumption). 

Endesa announced last February up to 23 projects under study associated with green hydrogen with an estimated investment of 2,900 million euros. Among them, stands out the one already underway in As Pontes (A Coruña), which seeks to implement a 100 MW electrolyzer and 6 associated wind farms by 2023. Other outstanding electrolyzer projects are those of Huelva (with a capacity of 100 MW and an investment of 413 M€), Teruel (60 MW and 294 M€), Almeria (20 MW and 187 M€) and Tarragona (20 MW and 181 M€).

Another big bet on hydrogen is the one proposed by Repsol through Petronor. In fact, one of the major hydrogen initiatives currently in place in Spain is known as the "Basque Hydrogen Corridor", led by Repsol and Petronor; it includes more than 30 different projects throughout the value chain with the participation of up to 78 companies and entities (including CIC energiGUNE). 

Among other projects, Repsol and Petronor seek to establish up to 3 renewable hydrogen production plants that will have a cumulative capacity of more than 110 MW once all three are operational in 2025.

In the same vein, other large companies have begun to develop their own hydrogen-related projects. Among others, Enagás, which has announced more than 10 projects associated with this technology, with an expected investment of up to 2,250 million until 2023; Naturgy, which is working with Enagás itself on the development of various hydrogen production projects, for example in León and Asturias; and Acciona, with such innovative projects as OCEANH2, whose objective is the design and validation of the first offshore green hydrogen generation, storage and distribution plant in Spain.

Thus, the role of these large companies and the interest they have shown in hydrogen are, without doubt, a key element in achieving industrial boost and Spain´s aspirations in the coming years within the sector. However, they are not the only ones who trust in this source as a way for energy and economic development in the coming years.

Hydrogen as a key element in the autonomous regions´ recovery plans

As well as large companies, all the autonomous governments have shown their interest in welcoming and financing projects associated with the hydrogen value chain. Above all, as a result of the economic and industrial development possibilities that are expected to be generated by the arrival of the recovery funds in the coming months.

In fact, such is the commitment to this technology that there are even autonomous regions, such as the Basque Country or the Comunidad Valenciana, which have approved their own regional strategies for the promotion of this industry, in order to develop projects that will turn the region into a reference in the sector.

Indeed, this interest of all the autonomous regions in having large hydrogen projects (and the associated investments) in their territories is causing some competition among them to attract these initiatives to their borders.

The best example of this can be found in the recovery plans that all the autonomous regions have presented in order to be eligible for European funds. 

If we analyze these plans, we can see the leading role played by hydrogen in all of them. And not only that, but also the "overlap" that in many cases exists between the different projects to be launched, especially regarding production through electrolyzers. This is beginning to awaken a "race" among the communities to offer the best possible conditions to the project promoters, with or without funds, in order to become the selected locations.

Above all, what these autonomous regions are looking for through these projects is to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the entire hydrogen value chain to the different industries that exist in each territory, thus complementing or relaunching the current fabric.

Thus, for example, regions such as Asturias or Cantabria seek to take advantage of their coastal location to develop large projects associated with the maritime sector. On the other hand, others such as Galicia or the Balearic Islands see it as an opportunity to mitigate the cessation of activities of key players in the region, such as Endesa´s As Pontes plant or the cement company CEMEX, respectively.

Meanwhile, regions such as the Basque Country and Valencia are committed to hydrogen as a catalyst for their current industrial and energy fabric. And regions such as Castilla La Mancha and Castilla y León want the development of this industry to be the first stone for a new industrial reconstruction of their regions.

In short, what does seem clear is that all of them have decided to make a firm commitment to the development of these projects, which leads us to believe that in the coming years hydrogen and its technologies will be able to meet the high expectations set for it and the ambitious objectives set by both European institutions and Spanish government.

With all this in mind, and as a summary, CIC energiGUNE presents below a brief description of the major hydrogen-related commitments being made by all the autonomous regions and which will represent the "ecosystem" that will allow Spain to become the hub of reference that aspires to be:


Nuria Gisbert, Director General of CIC energiGUNE; Member of the Expert Committee of the Basque Parliament on the Basque Energy Agreement, member of the scientific advisory committee of the Vitoria-Gasteiz Green Deal and member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Basque Council for Science, Technology and Innovation of the Basque Country.


In collaboration with:

Iñigo Careaga: BCARE Business Analyst

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