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Iberdrola and Fertiberia announce EUR 1.8 billion Spanish green hydrogen project

The green hydrogen industry has been boosted with a new alliance between Spain-headed power major Iberdrola Group (Iberdrola) and compatriot Fertiberia S.A., which seeks to turn Spain into an industrial leader of green hydrogen technology, fundamental to delivering climate neutrality. The partnership could see the installation of 800 MW of green hydrogen production capacity, with EUR 1.8 billion investment over seven years.

A partnership between Iberdrola and Fertiberia announced on October 28, 2020, by Ignacio Galán (left), Chairman of Iberdrola, and Javier Goñi, Chairman of Fertiberia could see the installation of 800 MW of green hydrogen production capacity, with EUR 1.8 billion investment over seven years in Spain (photo courtesy Iberdrola).

As announced in July 2020, the partners will commission their first green hydrogen plant during 2021 in Puertollano, Spain thereby becoming Europe’s largest green hydrogen complex for industrial use. Iberdrola is accelerating the construction of this innovation project and 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 European Union, with an annual production capacity of over 200 000 tonnes.

Fertiberia will adapt its plant to the use of green hydrogen for manufacturing green fertilizers, reducing the use of natural gas in the plant by more than 10 percent. It will be the first European company in the sector to develop a large-scale experience in the generation of green ammonia.

Three additional projects planned

The innovative partnership includes plans to develop three additional projects between 2023 and 2027, in the Fertiberia plants of Puertollano, Ciudad Real, and Palos de la Frontera, Huelva, which could deliver 40 times the capacity of the first plant.

The 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 percent of its ammonia production from green energy sources. The project is the result of an alliance that puts both companies’ capabilities at the disposal of an unprecedented transformation process. An alliance that is not based on mere intentions, but on concrete actions. Once again, we are pioneering the implementation of new clean technology, green hydrogen, and we are doing it together with the best partner, Fertiberia, said Ignacio Galán.

The European Union (EU) and the Government of Spain have launched strategies to promote green hydrogen. The EU aims to have 40 GW of green hydrogen electrolyzers in just ten years, while in Spain the goal is 4 GW of installed capacity.

These are ambitious plans that aim to put Europe at the top of the world league of this technology and they require industrial companies willing to face up to the transformation of their production processes; a supply chain ready to fabricate the infrastructure for electrolysis on a large scale, with increasingly efficient and competitive equipment- The ambitions need companies with sufficient investment and execution capacity to generate and supply the required capacity of green energy, and support from the EU to make these projects a reality, Ignacio Galán said.

Javier Goñi explained that the alliance with Iberdrola makes Fertiberia “the first company in the industry that feeds its large plants with green hydrogen, thanks to local renewable sources that will also supply our electricity consumption needs”.

According to Goñi, this project also allows Fertiberia to “show the way forward to the rest of the operators”. With this “strategic and decisive” step, fertilizers will be manufactured with a high level of effectiveness and environmental efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, as required by the future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

More than 50 percent of our turnover already comes from high added value products, a percentage that will exceed 60 percent in 2023, said Goñi, adding that an agreement with a European energy champion like Iberdrola helps to promote and brand Spain as an “international symbol of innovation and technological leadership”.

Create 4 000 jobs through local suppliers

Iberdrola’s comprehensive project places the group at the forefront of the new technological challenge posed by the production and supply of hydrogen from 100 percent renewable sources.

If fully implemented, the plan would deliver 800 MW of electrolysis, equivalent to 20 percent of Spain´s national target – which envisages the installation of 4GW by 2030 – and would ensure that around 25 percent 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 tonnes 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 4 000 qualified jobs – 2 000 of them by 2023 – through 500 local suppliers. The plan will invigorate an industrial hub with high growth potential, such as the manufacturing of electrolyzers in Spain.

The projects would reduce energy dependence and consumption of fossil fuels while promoting economic and social development, particularly in regions that face economic challenges such as Castile-La Mancha and Andalusia.

In addition, the innovative proposal also includes positioning Spain as a technological benchmark in the production and use of green hydrogen in Europe, especially in the field of electrolysis.

The investment would contribute to advancing the technological maturity of green hydrogen and turning it into a solution for efficient decarbonization in the medium term, both for industries that use it as 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 decarbonization, leading the way to its full commercial competitiveness”.

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