Spain is likely to have more than double the green hydrogen production capacity compared to domestic demand by 2030, according to results from a call for interest by national grid operator Enagás for companies to link up to new hydrogen pipelines.

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The grid transmission operator saw 206 companies — of which 45% were producers, 40% consumers and the rest planning to trade volumes between the two — register 605 projects, although more than half of these were production-focused.

Based on this data, the grid transmission operator modelled three scenarios for 2030.

The first, maximal scenario, where every submitted project with start-up by 2030 comes on line, would see 7.9 million tonnes of H2 produced per year from 74.3GW of electrolysers, but only 1.4 million tonnes of domestic consumption.

Even when filtering for project maturity — measured by the presence of preliminary offtake agreements, previous development experience, or the start of construction — Spain would still produce 2.5 million tonnes of hydrogen a year from 23.3GW of electrolysers, compared to one million tonnes of annual demand.

A map displaying production (green) and demand (blue) centres based on the call for interest, with proposed H2Med pipelines superimposed. Photo: Enagás/Screenshot by Hydrogen Insight

Enagás’ estimates for its base scenario, which only included green H2 projects focused on meeting national demand, would see 13.4GW of electrolysers producing 1.6 million tonnes of hydrogen on an annual basis, although demand would still only be one million tonnes of H2 a year.

The Spanish gas grid operator suggested that by 2040, based on all projects submitted to its call for interest planned to be on line by then, the country would have 8.7 million tonnes a year of production from an enormous 84.3GW of electrolysis capacity.

However, actual demand within Spain would only reach 1.5 million tonnes of H2 a year, suggesting that the majority of hydrogen produced in the country would have to be transported through to the rest of Europe.

The first imports of green H2 from North Africa are also expected to start flowing into Spain by 2040, with Enagás CEO Arturo Gonzalo highlighting Morocco and Algeria as potential exporters to Europe in a presentation this morning.

Beyond Spain’s potential to export mass volumes of its own hydrogen, he called for the country to become “the main gateway” for hydrogen produced by its neighbours to enter Europe.

“Without a transmission backbone, there won’t be security of supply,” Gonzalo added during a panel session following the presentation.

Building out Spain’s hydrogen pipeline and storage infrastructure would cost €4.9bn ($5.31bn).

Enagás suggested that H2Med — a proposed pipeline network going through Portugal, Spain, France and Germany — would cost around €2.5bn, with €1bn needed for the Spanish portion of the network, although it is unclear if this was included in the €2.5bn estimate.

Previous estimates have put the cost of the subsea link between Spain and France alone at €2.5bn, with the full network expected to cost €3bn.

H2Med — which Enagás is developing with fellow transmission system operators GRTGaz, REN, OGE and Teréga — was included in the European Commission’s sixth list of Projects of Common Interest, or key cross border infrastructure eligible for accelerated permits and grants.

However, this list still needs to be approved by the European Council and Parliament, which is expected to be completed by March.

Despite rumours that H2Med, and the subsea section in particular, would not be viable due to cost and uncertainty around demand, Gonzalo appeared bullish that “in one year’s time”, Enagás will have conducted the final studies and would be ready to start to secure financing for the project to start construction in 2027 or 2028.

The Spanish company has recently awarded preliminary engineering studies for H2Med to Wood Group, and is currently weighing up two possible routes as well as the final corridor.

Ammonia and CO2

Enagás also revealed that some of the companies that responded to its call had also expressed interest in ammonia and CO2 transport infrastructure.

Ammonia demand was around five million tonnes a year, with 41 companies specifically expressing interest in pipelines capable of transporting four million tonnes a year.

Meanwhile, for carbon capture and storage infrastructure, 53 companies expressed interest in infrastructure to transport the captured CO2, although only 37 had actually responded that they were interested in capturing and sequestering the gas.