Repsol is leading a new multi-sector consortium of 33 companies and organisations that is looking to invest €3.23 billion ($4.4 billion) to promote green hydrogen production and usage in Spain.

The Spanish Hydrogen Network (Shyne) will invest in hydrogen technologies and install 500 megawatts of green hydrogen capacity by 2025 and 2 gigawatts by 2030 — half of the Spanish government's 4GW target.

It will also build renewable-energy projects to power the electrolysers, promote the use of hydrogen “in all transportation segments” through the production of synthetic fuels and at least 12 new hydrogen filling stations by 2025, while also promoting the use of green hydrogen in heating and heavy industry.

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The project aims to “generate an ecosystem that connects” three planned industrial hydrogen hubs in the Basque region, Catalonia and Murcia; create two new innovation hubs in Madrid and Castile-La Mancha to develop solid-oxide electrolysers and photoelectrocatalysis — a technology that creates hydrogen directly from solar energy without the need for electrolysers that Repsol plans to make commercially viable by 2030; and build a knowledge management centre in Madrid to coordinate all activity.

“The synergies between the companies collaborating in Shyne will support coordinated industrial developments throughout the hydrogen value chain, maximising investment capacities,” said the Repsol statement.

“This premise will be key to achieving decarbonisation in the most efficient manner and at the lowest cost, mainly in sectors where today electrification is not a solution, such as the steel sector in which Celsa develops its activity, or in transport segments such as aviation and maritime, railway, or heavy long-distance transport, with Iberia, Balearia, Talgo, and Alsa as benchmarks. Thus, the challenge of decarbonisation becomes a great opportunity to generate wealth and technological and industrial development in Spain through this new renew-able hydrogen economy."

Repsol says that the €3.23 billion project is expected to generate more than 13,000 jobs in Spain.

Other Shyne members

In addition to Repsol — which aims to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 — six companies will be “promoting partners” in the project: Spain’s leading bus company Alsa; engineering company Bosch, which is developing hydrogen boilers; steel company Celsa; Spanish gas grid operator Enagas; Swedish truck maker Scania; and train manufacturer Talgo, which is due to test its first hydrogen-powered train in March.

Scania’s involvement in the project comes a year to the day after it announced it was shifting its focus more towards battery electric vehicles, while limiting its investment in hydrogen technologies.

At the time, Scania argued fuel-cell vehicles were more complex so would cost more to buy and maintain, would require three times as much renewable electricity to run, and that hydrogen was a volatile gas that raised safety concerns.

However, it also stated that it would continue work on its prior efforts in hydrogen technology and was not "closing the door on any possibilities", noting hydrogen was still a "promising energy carrier" that could play an important role in decarbonisation if produced in an environmentally friendly way.

On Wednesday, Sonie Garcia, director of communication and marketing at Scania Iberica, confirmed the company was again opening the door to investment in hydrogen.

“This agreement is further proof of Scania’s commitment to drive change towards sustainable transport from different technological fronts," she said.

“Scania sees green hydrogen as an important player in medium- to long-term electrification.”

In further clarification to Upstream's sister publication Recharge, a Scania spokesperson confirmed the company still believed battery electric vehicles would sill be the best option "for customers in basically all segments and in most countries".

" However, there will be limited cases and markets where hydrogen is still viable. We have fuel cell trucks in customer operations both in Norway and Sweden. The local initiative in Spain is another example," the spokesperson added.

The “collaborating partners” in Shyne include national airline Iberia, passenger ferry company Balearia, power equipment supplier Wartsila, local trade associations and eight research institutions and universities.

(This article was first published by Upstream's renewable energy sister publication, Recharge, on 19 January, 2022.)