With the price of gas shot up by the ukrainian warthe bet on green hydrogen as an energy source, it becomes more urgent than ever to reduce the Spain’s high dependence on fossil fuels from third countries, in a world that tends towards zero emissions of polluting gases.
“Much of the natural gas used in Spain could be displaced by hydrogen,” he says Florence Ferrera CEO of H2B2a leading Spanish company in the green hydrogen sector, in an interview with OKDIARIO.
Renewable hydrogen, which is produced with energy from the sun or wind, will become more popular in the coming years, he says. Right now, hydrogen is more expensive than gas, which is why institutional support and aid from European funds is necessary for its development, in the same way that it was done with photovoltaic or solar thermal energy, with which the costs of installation of electrolyzers -devices that allow hydrogen to be produced through electrolysis, a chemical process- would drop rapidly, he indicates. In this way, hydrogen could be injected into the current gas pipelines.
“The execution of many projects will lead to lower costs. It will be relevant from an energy point of view within five years”, predicts Ferrera, who speaks of “exponential growth” of this technology in the medium term, although he admits that more investment is necessary in R+D+i.
Spain is very well positioned in this race due to its strategic geographical location as a transit point for hydrogen between Africa and Europe, and also because it has abundant renewable resources with which to feed the electrolyzers, he explains. “Spain has the ability to lead the production of technology as the cornerstone of the hydrogen value chain and H2B2 is there to be at the forefront,” says Ferrera, who hopes that in 2022 the commitment to hydrogen will be redoubled to meet zero emissions targets by 2030. It is expected that by then there will be 90GW of this source of energy worldwide and 4GW in Spain. “Unprecedented investments in hydrogen are expected, it is a market with enormous potential,” he predicts.
Growing interest in hydrogen for industrial use
The hydrogen sector is booming all over the world and the company is noticing that. More and more clients are asking H2B2 for firm offers and feasibility studies to see how hydrogen would fit into their facilities, he says. “They are industrial customers who use hydrogen heavily in their fertilizer or steel production processes, customers who are looking for mobility solutions or customers in the energy sector who have combined cycles and want to reduce their gas bill by mixing it with hydrogen in their turbines,” keep going.
In this sense, he expects a takeoff of light hydrogen vehicles, which allow faster charging than electric vehicles. «Refueling lasts similar to that of a gasoline car, five minutes. At the moment there are not many models of hydrogen cars, they are expensive, but there are already hydrogen buses and trains in Spain », he comments.
To cope with the strong activity that is coming upon them, Ferrera plans to expand the group’s facilities, currently located in Two sisters, Seville, and increase its current staff of 26 workers. At the moment, the company is present, apart from in Spain, in Finland, Latin America, United States and middle East markets in which it wants to continue operating, but it also intends to expand to Asia.
H2B2 currently has two notable projects: one in Colombia where he collaborates with ecopetrol a leading oil and gas company in that country, for which it has developed and manufactured an electrolyser that allows the production of 647 kilos of renewable hydrogen, and another in California, where it is responsible for the construction, commissioning and operation of a 100% renewable hydrogen plant. The latter, started in 2021, gave “a definitive boost” to the company, which has 3 MW in portfolio signed, emphasizes Ferrera.
The objective of H2B2, created in 2016 by professionals mostly from Abengoa, the Spanish infrastructure and energy multinational, is to be a world leader in hydrogen technology, despite great competition in Spain, Europe and the United States. For now, it enjoys the interest of numerous investors to enter its capital and accompany its growth, including funds and companies in the sector. In December, the Basque group joined its council Tekpolio, which injected 10 million dollars to support its technological growth. And although it is still a somewhat distant goal, the company aspires to be listed on the Stock Exchange, as many of its competitors have done, to “be as high as possible”, Ferrera aspires.
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