Among other targets, the National Hydrogen Plan established an installed capacity of 2 to 2.5 GW in electrolysers for green hydrogen production by 2030. This renewable energy source will be essential in the future energy mix, to meet the needs of the heavy and industrial transport sectors, especially companies that require very high temperatures in their production process. The road to make this happen is long and was under discussion at the annual conference organised by the Portuguese Renewable Energy Association (APREN)This year's theme was "Renewable Energies, the engine of economic recovery".
The event took place in Lisbon, in Culturgest's Main Auditorium, and included presentations by some of the leading experts in the field of renewable energies at a national and international level. Sérgio Goulart Machado, Galp's Director of Global Business Development, joined the debate on "The path towards 2.5 GW of Green Hydrogen".
It is true that the electrification of the economy will contribute significantly to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. But "hydrogen will also play an essential role in mitigating climate change, complementing electricity," said the Galp director. Above all, it will play a crucial role as a source of energy in a number of sectors of the economy "where electrification is not possible, feasible, or is too costly". These are the cases of aviation, maritime and heavy land transport, "sectors that are very difficult to electrify", as is the case of "industry, especially those that require very high temperatures in their production cycle". This group includes cement, steel, glass, ceramics, fertiliser production and refining industries.
Sérgio Goulart Machado explained that green hydrogen is also an efficient way to generate heat in buildings, and will be an important energy source for air conditioning, especially in places where temperatures are more extreme.
The renewable energy produced on the Iberian Peninsula, and in particular in Portugal, is one of the most competitive in Europe. This is particularly the case with photovoltaic and wind power sources in certain areas. "Both can be combined to power the electrolysis process, with a huge competitive advantage over other areas of the planet, because the costs to produce green hydrogen will be lower," said Sérgio Goulart Machado.
The power grid must be reinforced
But the country does not currently possess the capacity to produce the green hydrogen needed. We need to increase the volume of renewable energy generated, mainly by spreading the production structures throughout the territory, "so that they do not put excessive pressure on the places where the hydrogen will be produced," Sérgio Goulart Machado stressed. We need to maintain the balance of the ecosystems and environmental sustainability. But this cannot be done without "the electricity grid reaching the production sites, to allow access to renewable sources at a market-appropriate cost, to transport the electricity". This means the country needs to strengthen the current grids significantly. A regulatory framework allowing the production, transport and use of green hydrogen to meet the energy needs of the various sectors where it is to be used is also yet to be established. Preventively, the Galp director also pointed out that legislators cannot add "the costs of general economic interest, which are currently part of the tariff for access to electricity grids, to hydrogen, because that makes no sense and is absolutely unaffordable. In other words, we have the right conditions for it, but there is still a long way to go until we can produce green hydrogen to be sold on the market at competitive prices.