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Green hydrogen as an energy vector: Contribution to sustainability and decarbonisation

Green hydrogen has become the key fuel to achieving climate neutrality, complying with Agenda 2030 and meeting the goals set out in Horizon 2050. The European Commission is working on an investment programme to transform Europe into a world power in the production and consumption of renewable hydrogen.

We’re facing the end of an era, marked by fossil fuels, in which we’ve had energy that was abundant, accessible and adaptable to our daily needs. It’s time to embark upon another era focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency and responsible consumption. In short, a system compatible with the environment based on inexhaustible energy resources, evenly spread across the world, and the development of new technologies.

Green hydrogen is considered the energy of the future because it’s a universal, lightweight and highly reactive fuel. It’s made by electrolysis, a chemical process that uses electric current to separate hydrogen molecules from oxygen in water. If this electricity comes from renewable sources, and taking into account that no CO2 is released into the atmosphere during its production or combustion, we’re looking at one of the best options to contribute to decarbonisation due to its efficiency and sustainability. Its many beneficial properties as an energy vector include the fact that it’s a renewable energy that is easily storable on a large scale, transportable, non-dependent on primary resources, applicable in different ways and simple to produce.

Although hydrogen isn’t a new element (in fact, it’s the most abundant element in the universe, and on our planet we consume more than seventy million tons a year), it is now being enthusiastically welcomed. This is due to the surge in technological transformation, the reduction in costs of renewable energies and the warnings in recent years to reduce the tons of carbon dioxide that we emit into the atmosphere, and which is speeding up the global warming process.

What’s more, in the current health crisis, green hydrogen is a key area for unlocking investment that fosters sustainable growth and job creation. It’s not surprising that several countries in the European Union are already developing strategies around this green technology and the use of hydrogen on a domestic level. This is the case in countries such as Portugal, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. The European Commission, aware of the potential of this fuel, is already taking measures to stimulate and boost its development and production:

  • A major investment programme that ranges from a minimum of 501.01 billion euros to a maximum of 919.2 billion euros.
  • An appropriate regulatory framework and a roadmap divided into three phases.
  • The creation of new leading markets.
  • An infrastructure network.
  • Investment into R&D for the study of cutting-edge technologies that will create new market solutions.
  • Cooperation between Member States and third-country partners.

However, for this entire plan to materialise and be executed in the coming years, the involvement of all stakeholders will be necessary, not just the private sector and Member States. Participation on a national and regional level must be coordinated to optimise processes, share best practices and enrich the value chain.

Thanks to hydrogen, other renewable energies can be integrated on a large scale and energy distributed between industries and regions. The industries that generate the most CO2 emissions, such as transport, energy and construction, consider their long-term decarbonisation feasible.

As we have already mentioned, another of the major advantages is the ability to store energy surpluses for long periods of time, thereby mitigating the imbalances between times of production and times of energy consumption. For all these reasons, green hydrogen is a key and versatile factor towards contributing to future sustainability and the decarbonisation needed by the planet. During the energy transition, it will play a key role by connecting different assets, given the need for a vector that enables Spain to embrace new forms of energy generation.

In this context, and as is customary due to its innovation and sustainability policies, Iberdrola has already announced that it is embarking upon a hydrogen project with the same ambition that the government has shown in its Green Hydrogen Roadmap, in response to European recovery plans.

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