Spain is a country with great potential for the production of so-called Green Hydrogen (H2), obtained from renewable sources. and one of the key elements to achieve climate neutrality in 2050, global and related to transport. And that happens by making that element can be produced and sold at a competitive cost. It is also necessary to facilitate the purchase of the vehicles (FCEV) that consume it, with aid such as the current Moves III, still not activated by any CCAA. But none of that works if there is no infrastructure where they can be refueled.

In Spain today there are only four hydrogenerators (HRS), located in Aragn, Castilla-La Mancha (two) and Madrid, in addition to another in development in Barcelona and a sixth in project in Palma de Mallorca. But all of them are for private use, so it is as if they do not exist in the face of the general public or a company not linked to the projects that have started them. In fact, according to DGT data, Although since 2015 in Spain hydrogen fuel cell cars have been sold, the existing fleet amounts to only 12 units.

The last hydrogeneration plant in Spain was inaugurated at the beginning of this year in Madrid

And yet it is intended that The supply of vehicles with this technology, which today includes cars and buses, will increase in the coming years: in 2022 it will be installed in vans and in 2023, the first hydrogen-powered long-distance trucks will arrive.

Advance the deadlines five years

According to the association of vehicle manufacturers Anfac and Gasnam, that of Sustainable Transport that integrates the Gas and Hydrogen value chain, if we do not want that bet to be a toast to the sun, it is necessary to accelerate the implementation schedule of Green Hydrogen that the Government has already foreseen. This roadmap foresees that in 2030 there will be between 150 and 200 hydrogen cell buses (especially urban buses in large cities) and between 5,000 and 7,000 light and heavy vehicles for the transport of goods. To supply them, between 100 and 150 refueling stations will be needed.

What the associations propose, and which both define as “a policy of minimums”, the thing is the maximum number of HRS is reached five years ahead of schedule. Moreover, taking into account that the starting point is much more negative than in countries such as Germany (with 83 refueling stations and 867 vehicles), France (16 and 389, respectively) or the United Kingdom (229 vehicles and nine hydrogenerators). The proposal has already been presented to the Executive for its evaluation and consideration, according to the CEO of Anfac, Jos Lpez-Tafall.

Mercedes-Benz and Volvo start operating hydrogen cell trucks in 2023
Mercedes-Benz and Volvo start operating hydrogen cell trucks in 2023

One station every 250 kilometers

In a first phase, The construction of 71 facilities of this type is proposed, one for each Spanish city with more than 100,000 inhabitants. They would serve to supply captive fleets of city buses, but also allow access to cars and vans. Anfac and Gasnam believe that by 2021 there should already be 15 urban stations, although it is already known that this will not happen.

This network, however, is not suitable for heavy transport since the minimum distance between hydrogenerators can reach 400 km, so Starting in 2022, work should start on a second one. It will be deployed along the transportation corridors with the highest average daily vehicle intensity, also adding HRS in the main transportation hubs and hubs with the highest hydrogen consumption.

Hydrogen buses that Hyundai tests in Munich
Hydrogen buses that Hyundai tests in Munich

This network will consist of 79 additional stations and will allow the minimum distance between refueling points, considering the 150 HRS before 2026 (which you can check here) go down to 250 km, which is the required goal. And all of them should allow H2 to be refueled at pressures of up to 700 bars, which does not exclude any vehicle (basically passenger cars) as the current ones that work at 350 bars do (except the one in Madrid).

Investments of up to eight million

Apart from the public interest, the great stumbling block of the plan is the large investment it requires. Depending on their capacity and whether or not they have H2 generation on site, the costs vary between one and eight million euros. “The usual thing is that it oscillates between 1.5 and 3.5 million, says Eugenia Sillero, Secretary General of Gasnam.

“Hydrogen as an energy vector will only be developed with a high level of initial subsidy that will be gradually reduced as the number of vehicles and therefore the real demand for this fuel increases,” he adds. According to his calculations, the initial subsidy should be between 80% and 100% of the cost of the project, given the difficulty of amortization in a first stage of development. Investments must also be linked to captive vehicle fleets that guarantee a minimum consumption of H2.

Double speed electrolineras

The absence of a charging infrastructure is not only a problem for H2 vehicles, but also for those with batteries, despite the fact that, in this case, the investment is much lower. On average, a few tens of thousands of euros. Y It is not a problem that affects the whole of Europe equally, as a report by Acea, the manufacturers ’employers’ association, shows.

In it, it denounces the serious risk of a network development at double speed, since 70% of the total number of poles (225,000 at the end of 2020) are in just three countries – the Netherlands, France and Germany – which barely occupy 23% of the continent’s surface. The other 30% of the electric stations are spread over 77% of the region.

As an example of this asymmetry, Acea puts the case of Romania, which is six times bigger than the Netherlands and only has 0.2% of the poles installed (493). On the other hand, this last country is the most developed in this field, with 66,665 recharging points, 29.7% of the total for a minuscule 0.8% of the surface. In France there are 45,751 posts, 20.4% of the total, and in Germany, 44,538 units, 19.9% ​​of the total.

Binding targets for each country

The richest countries in Western Europe, and which also have a larger fleet of battery-powered vehicles (a key figure) are those that are deploying the largest network, while in the states with a lower GDP in Eastern and Central Europe this development is much more behind schedule. Furthermore, the gap between Germany, the third country (which represents 19.9% ​​of all charging points in the EU) and the fourth, Italy (5.8%), “is already huge, and the share of chargers is dropping rapidly. ” Spain, with 12.5% ​​of the surface area, only has 3 out of every 100 electric stations in Europe.

“Without decisive action now, it is unlikely that the situation will improve in the coming years,” warns the association, which calls for the Directive on Alternative Fuels infrastructure to be reviewed in two weeks to establish binding targets for each EU member state. “For electric vehicles and also for hydrogen.”

According to the Commission’s calculations, uA further reduction in CO2 emissions from cars to -50% in 2030 would require some six million publicly available charging points. With fewer than 225,000 available today, that translates to a staggering 27-fold increase in less than a decade.

According to Anfac data, in the first semester the sales of this type of Electric vehicles grew 87%, to 10,946 units, representing 1.96% of total registrations.

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