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Iberdrola and Fertiberia to invest EUR 150 million in Europe's largest industrial green hydrogen plant

In Spain, renewable power major Iberdrola Group (Iberdrola) and compatriot fertilizer major Fertiberia S.A. have recently signed an agreement, which will trigger a EUR 150 million investment to construct the largest green hydrogen plant for industrial use in Europe. The Spanish companies are to build the plant in Puertollano and it will be operational in 2021.

Ignacio Galán, CEO of Spain-headed renewable power major Iberdrola (photo courtesy Iberdrola).

Announced on July 24, 2020, Iberdrola will be responsible for the production of green hydrogen from 100 percent renewable power sources. The solution will consist of a 100 MW solar photovoltaic (PV), a lithium-ion battery system with a storage capacity of 20 MWh, and a 20 MW electrolyzer.

The project will take place in the municipality of Puertollano, in Ciudad Real, a prime location with a large industrial hub near to the National Hydrogen Centre, which has advised from the very beginning of the project.

Iberdrola is a leader in renewable power with over 32 GW installed capacity globally. In Spain, Iberdrola has an installed capacity of over 16.5 GW of which wind power accounts for more than 6 GW. In Castilla-La Mancha, Iberdrola operates 2.2 GW of renewable power capacity, primarily wind. In the region, together with Puertollano II (100 MW), it will develop three other photovoltaic projects, with an installed capacity of 150 MW, in Cuenca and Toledo.

Today we are launching the first major green hydrogen project in Europe, demonstrating that thanks to renewables and technological innovation, it is possible to continue to meet the needs of the electrification and decarbonisation of our industry. The initiative shows the path and opportunities offered by the energy transition to develop innovative projects as the focus for industrialisation and employment in our country, explained Ignacio Galán, Chairman of Iberdrola.

Green ammonia production

The green hydrogen produced will be used at Fertiberia’s ammonia plant in Puertollano, which according to Fertiberia is already one of the most efficient in the European Union (EU). Fertiberia will update and modify the 200 000 tonnes-per-annum plant to use the green hydrogen to manufacture green fertilizers.

Ammonia is, in turn, the raw material for the manufacture of a wide range of products including latest-generation sustainable fertilizers as well as a hydrogen carrier for advanced alternative fuels.

Fertiberia will be able to reduce natural gas requirements at the plant by over 10 percent and will be the first European company in the sector to develop expertise in large-scale green ammonia generation.

By producing ammonia from renewable sources, the company will avoid the emission of 39 000 tonnes per annum of carbon dioxide (CO2) while reducing dependence on fossil natural gas that must be imported from abroad.

The oxygen obtained as a co-product of the electrolysis of water will be used entirely in Fertiberia’s nitric acid unit, which also reduces its emissions.

The partnership with Iberdrola allows Fertiberia to take a further step in its ambition to become a European reference for sustainable solutions for agriculture and to lead the paradigm shift required for the energy transition in the chemical sector, thanks to the manufacture of green ammonia from domestic renewable energy sources, said Javier Goñi, President of Fertiberia.

Advancing technological maturity

The project will help move forward in maturing the technology for green hydrogen production and turn it into a solution for efficient decarbonisation in the medium term, both for the refining, chemical, and fertilizer industries that use it as raw material and for processes that are difficult to decarbonise.

Global annual hydrogen production is estimated to be around 70 million tonnes and, as it is almost exclusively fossil-derived, represents CO2 emissions of 830 million tonnes per year or about 2 percent of global CO2 emissions.

Annual hydrogen production in Spain is estimated at 0.5 million tonnes accounting for around 5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

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