The European Commission is already studying what the future of energy connections between the Twenty-seven is going to be like, closing its gas pipelines with Russia and opening new routes, with “more reliable” suppliers and the support of renewables. And one of the plans being studied is to recover the reviled and almost buried Midcat project, but with an image wash: transporting green hydrogen instead of gas.
According to the plan of the European Commission, made public last week and which calculates that 210,000 million euros will be necessary to invest in the disconnection of Russian energy, new infrastructures will have to be built or existing ones accelerated. "Additional investments to connect liquefied natural gas import terminals on the Iberian Peninsula and the EU grid through hydrogen-ready infrastructure can help diversify gas supply," reads the Executive document. In fact, the Government of Pedro Sánchez has been insisting for weeks on the potential that Spain may have to become one of the countries that exports green hydrogen and that Midcat could play an important role.
Community calculations estimate the investment needs for hydrogen between 28,000 and 38,000 million euros for the EU's internal gas pipelines, which could include the Midcat, paralyzed since 2018 in the vicinity of Hostalric. “To facilitate the import of up to ten million tonnes of renewable hydrogen, the Commission will support the development of three major hydrogen import corridors through the Mediterranean, the North Sea area and, as soon as conditions allow, Ukraine. ”, explains the Executive.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, praised the role of Spain recently for its commitment to this energy, in which she recalled that "in the first three months of the year, 20% of the new renewable hydrogen projects in the world were produced in Spain. That's impressive,” she assured.
The other issue that the plan also contemplates is the improvement of interconnections. Despite having allowed Spain and Portugal to have an exception precisely because of their low level of interconnection with the rest of Europe and thus being able to limit the price of gas in the wholesale market, it does not mean that the situation should remain this way. First, because the measure is temporary, for twelve months, and, second, because the interconnections continue as a pending issue.
According to the European Commission, an additional €29 billion of investment is needed in the electricity grid between now and 2030, in order to adapt it to greater use and production of electricity. In fact, Brussels argues that the current high electricity prices in the Iberian Peninsula "highlight the importance of improving electrical interconnections."
However, the European Commission no longer only has in mind the connection between Spain and France, but also the one that would unite the Peninsula with Italy, and would be a new gas pipeline that would connect Barcelona with Livorno, and whose idea has been supported by the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi.
According to industry experts, it would amount to an investment of at least 3,000 million euros and would be capable of transporting gas between the two countries, but which could also carry green hydrogen in the future, and this is included in the Commission's plans. For the moment, an agreement has been signed between the Spanish Enagás and the Italian Snam to analyze and carry out a preliminary study to verify its viability. If approved, they estimate from the transalpine company, it would have a capacity of 30,000 cubic meters per year.