Spain’s energy battle in Brussels begins a new chapter. The Spanish Government wants to transform the country into a renewable hydrogen power, one of the green energy vectors with the greatest potential in the EU, and calls on the European Commission to give priority “in the short term” to this type of infrastructure project that allows it to “reduce dependence on Russian gas”, according to a letter sent to the Community Executive by Teresa Ribera, Third Vice President of the Government and Minister of Ecological Transition.
The letter, to which EL PAÍS has had access, calls for “prioritizing the transport and trade of renewable hydrogen from where it can be produced competitively, such as southern Europe [España] to the rest of the EU”; It also asks that the electrical interconnections of the Iberian Peninsula with France be promoted and that the EU contribute to its financing “with sufficient funds”.
The letter, dated last Friday, has been sent to Brussels at a key moment, while the Commission finalizes an ambitious energy saving plan, scheduled for next week. This package seeks to act at different levels to cut Moscow’s critical dependence on hydrocarbons, deal with possible supply disruptions, evaluate a review of the electricity market and also assess projects that help change the energy ties that currently tie the EU with Russia. by alternative sources that row, at the same time, towards the goal of zero greenhouse gas emissions that the community bloc has proposed for 2050.
This is the front on which Ribera has decided to attack in the letter: “We are aware that the Commission is evaluating possible infrastructure projects based on the short-term requirement to reduce dependence on Russian gas”, acknowledges the letter of three pages, addressed to the Executive Vice President of the Commission for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, and to the European Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson. “However, this assessment should not be isolated from the long-term path towards climate neutrality to which the EU has committed,” the text continues.
The Spanish Government believes that “by taking into account all these aspects in the selection of projects, the exercise will be consistent with the objective of reducing our dependence on Russia, in line with the Green Deal and our commitments”. And he asks that “in all cases” it is the EU that contributes “with sufficient funds to these projects, particularly in the current circumstances.”
The Spanish idea, according to industry sources, is to create a third gas connection (there are currently two), which would make it possible to take advantage of Spain’s current liquefied natural gas regasification capacity, currently underutilized due to the low level of interconnection via pipelines through the Pyrenees. At the same time, it is intended that the new infrastructure be prepared to transport hydrogen to France, Germany and the rest of Europe, which could make Spain a major exporter of this resource in the medium term.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
In the Government’s roadmap on hydrogen, drawn up in 2020, the goal of producing 4 GW of installed power from electrolysis was set -the renewable hydrogen production system using clean energy and water-, which is equivalent to 10% of the renewable hydrogen set by the European Commission for the whole of the EU in 2030.
With Ribera’s letter, the Spanish Executive intends to drive a wedge in Brussels, which has shown reluctance to prioritize gas connection projects in the short term. “The possible gas pipeline project could be too slow for the next heating season,” warned the European Commissioner for Energy last week during an intervention in the European Parliament. “I think it is a very important challenge that we have to solve [el hecho de] that the Iberian Peninsula is not sufficiently interconnected”, he added. “But I would prioritize electricity interconnections right now.”
A day earlier, however, in an appearance after the Council of Energy Ministers, Simson did acknowledge that Brussels will bet on hydrogen projects: “We have to accelerate the deployment of renewable energies, including clean hydrogen, and increase efficiency and energy savings. And we will contemplate all these elements in the Commission’s plan”, which it plans to present next week.
In the letter, Spain also affects the low degree of electrical link with the EU and asks Brussels to accelerate “all the electrical interconnection projects that are missing to unite the Iberian Peninsula with France, in order to guarantee that they are fully operational in 2030″. And Ribera reminds the European Commission that “it has a crucial role” in giving that impetus.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Community Executive, recently referred to the great energy challenge facing the EU since Russia invaded Ukraine and the implications for Spain. I have agreed with the president [estadounidense, Joe] Biden the additional supply of 50,000 million cubic meters of liquefied natural gas starting next year”, he said last Friday in a speech in Barcelona, under the gaze of the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez. “This will replace a third of Russian gas. We are doubling down on our hydrogen targets. This could replace another third. And we will privilege cross-border projects, for example the critical connection between Portugal, Spain and France”, he concluded.
This energy isolation, which Spain figures below 3%, when it should be 10% from 2020 and reach 15% in 2030, is precisely one of the reasons that has allowed Madrid and Lisbon to present an extraordinary mechanism to stop contagion of the escalation of gas prices in the electricity bill. The proposal received pre-authorization from Brussels on Monday, and the Government is expected to adopt it this Friday.
Ribera’s letter, which touches various sticks, also requests that the plan finalized by the Commission strengthen and prioritize “even more” the development of renewable energy sources, “including the industrial dimension and considering the relevant role of energy storage” . And it returns to affect one of the points with which Spain has been percussing before the Community Executive since last summer: the review of the electricity market.
“Spain considers it key to dedicate a specific point on the agenda of the Council of Energy Ministers to focus on the design of the electricity market,” says the text, which proposes evaluating this improvement based on the recent report by the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators. Energy (ACER), in which the EU was opened for the first time to a review of the electricity market. “The Agency advocates accelerating market integration or increasing market liquidity, which are aspects that largely depend on a good level of interconnectivity.”
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