The Spanish Government has reacted with data in hand to question the arguments put forward by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, today in Prague, to disdain the construction of the Midcat gas pipeline that both countries have been debating for years and that Madrid, Lisbon and Berlin claim now as urgent in light of the problems created by the war in Ukraine and its impact on energy prices. "More than 70% of the days the export direction of the two gas pipelines in the Pyrenees is south-north", the vice president for the Energy Transition, Teresa Ribera, declared today in León, correcting Macron's statement that "more Well, it is France that exports gas to Spain".
Sources from the Ministry for the Ecological Transition affirm that, since March 1, a week after the start of the war in Ukraine, "Spain has had a net export balance of gas to France in 69% of the 219 days that have elapsed" and about 17% of the days of the period "the connection has been at its maximum export capacity", which means a use equal to or greater than 80% of its capacity; an infrastructure that operates at maximum 20% of the days "is considered saturated," state government sources.
Asked by the international press upon his arrival in Prague about Midcat, a project that Pedro Sánchez and Olaf Scholz spoke about yesterday in A Coruña, Macron has argued that it will be cheaper to transport electricity than hydrogen, ruling out for now the second use that Spain and Portugal want to give to the gas pipeline. The Spanish Government disagrees. According to the analysis of the Ministry's technicians, "transporting hydrogen by pipeline would be between two and four times cheaper and more efficient than transporting electricity with high-voltage lines." The environmental and visual impact and the effect on biodiversity of transporting hydrogen with underground infrastructure "is much lower than that of high-voltage electrical networks" and its execution is faster, add the aforementioned sources.
Ribera has publicly pointed out Macron's statements on this issue. "The most efficient way to transport hydrogen with fewer losses and lower costs is through tubes. Faced with a situation of suffocation in access to gas from central and northern European countries, and taking into account that the horizon for building this corridor was beyond 2030, it makes sense to consider anticipating investments as quickly as possible," defended the vice president, who called on Macron to analyze "legitimate domestic concerns" in the current European context. "Spain must defend what is appropriate at this time: show solidarity with Europe and facilitate a debate that we have had on the table for many years: how to guarantee a better interconnection between countries."
It is not the first time that the French president has presented in a distorted way certain data on the use of the current interconnections between Spain and France, but this time the Spanish government has reacted with singular decision and speed to Macron's comments. The European energy situation will be the highlight of the extraordinary European Council that will take place tomorrow in Prague, he mentions that the leaders of Spain and Portugal want to take advantage of it to defend the relevance of Midcat in the current context.