OPINION: Europe’s energy transition ambitions have received a much-needed boost with Spain and France ditching plans for an additional gas connector linking the two countries in favour of a green hydrogen-only pipeline.

Earlier this year, Spain and France, together with Portugal, had considered reviving the Midcat project gas interconnector between Spain and France.

The Midcat link was abandoned due to, mainly, French opposition, but was being reconsidered as a means of debottlenecking gas shipments and helping to ease Europe’s gas shortfall.

But instead the countries will move ahead with a more ambitious project — H2Med.

Announced jointly with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last Friday, the subsea pipeline will connect Barcelona to Marseille and represent, as she described it, “a major corridor” supplying western Europe with green hydrogen.

Energy crisis

H2Med is expected to be operational by 2030, when it could carry up to 2 million tonnes per annum of hydrogen, equivalent to about 10% of the European Union’s anticipated annual demand.

This is no small feat, especially when considering Europe’s energy crisis and the bloc’s quest to end its reliance on Russian gas.

The temptation may have been to complete Midcat and improve gas flows to western Europe, despite Europe’s decarbonisation goals.

H2Med, for its part, builds on renewable power and hydrogen capacity being developed in the region by players including Cepsa, Repsol and Galp, laying out a credible project for shipping and exports.

It is also worth noting the hydrogen-only focus in this case, compared with other pipeline projects that are are billed as gas first, with hydrogen as a later option.

Even as Europe positions itself as a major destination for global gas supplies to wean itself off Russian volumes, H2Med shows the bloc’s energy transition process has not been frozen out.

(This is an Upstream opinion article.)

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