Iberdrola and Ingeteam have reached an agreement to establish a new company, dedicated to the manufacture of electrolysers. It is the most critical equipment in the hydrogen production industry and that, it is intuited, will have an exponential development in the coming years. The new company, already baptized as Iberlyzer, will invest 100 million euros in the project and will generate 150 direct jobs. At the moment it has not been revealed where the factory will be installed, although it is expected to be in the Basque Country. The operation is complemented by an agreement that Iberdrola has signed with the Norwegian company Nel, which has technology in the design and construction of electrolyzers.
The basic hydrogen production technology is very old, dating from the early nineteenth century, but until now it has come up against the high costs involved and therefore the impossibility of turning it into a competitive option. However, some critical elements of the electrolysis process – the way to obtain hydrogen by immersing two electrodes in water – have begun to evolve and the Iberdrola and Ingeteam project aims to delve into its technological development. The production of hydrogen from renewable electricity has already become one of the energy options for the future, since this component is basic in the production of fertilizers and can also be used to obtain synthetic fuels or even for direct use in so-called ‘fuel cells’ for automotive.
Although there is no factory yet, there are already customers and even the delivery of the first team should take place next year. And this because the new company will collaborate in the construction of the necessary equipment to equip the hydrogen production plants that Iberdrola has already committed to the Fertiberia company and whose first installation will be carried out in Puertollano for the production of ammonia.
According to the experts, in the production of hydrogen, 70% of the costs are linked to the electricity consumption required in the process, 20% to the necessary investments in equipment and 5% to operating expenses. The first of these components, the cost of electricity, has its own green dynamic with the increase in renewable energy sources and the progressive increase in their efficiency. The latest auctions of wind energy parks in Spain have been resolved with the commitment not to grant subsidies to the promoter companies, precisely due to the technological improvement achieved by the wind generators. At present 80 million tons of hydrogen are produced annually in the world for various applications, causing the emission of 830 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The production of green hydrogen through renewable energies would reduce these emissions.
Iberdrola and Ingeteam want to influence the second aspect, that of equipment. There the electrolyzer is key, the tank in which the chemical process induced by electricity takes place and where hydrogen is released and collected. Experts consider that there is still much to improve in the technology of these equipment to obtain more hydrogen for each unit of electricity applied. Along these lines, one of the avenues of work and which is now being started by these two Basque companies, is the construction of large-scale electrolysers, since those that the industry has manufactured so far are small.
The project has a markup parallelism with what has happened around wind power generation and also the role played by Iberdrola in this field. Thus, the commitment of the electricity company in this field must be considered in the same way that it anticipated the development of the wind industry several decades ago with your shareholding in Gamesa, company of which it became the partner of reference. Its participation in the capital of that firm and also its role as a client who bought the equipment – a scheme that will now be repeated in the new company – allowed to accelerate the technological development of wind turbines and create an entire industrial chain in the Basque Country.
Hydrogen is described as ‘green’ when produced apart from renewable electricity -Eolian or solar- and it is considered to be one of the key raw materials in future energy development. The use of this production system from renewables can also eliminate many tons of Co2 that are currently discharged into the atmosphere through the production of hydrogen from the combustion of hydrocarbons.
«The initiative – indicated the president of Iberdrola, Ignacio Galán – will allow accelerate the production of green hydrogen in Spain, creating a new industry with high growth potential, such as the manufacture of electrolyzers. This will reduce energy dependence and the consumption of fossil fuels and will promote the economic and social revitalization of the country, “he explained.
The largest electrolysers in Europe
The first electrolyzer to be manufactured by Iberlyzer will have a power of 20 megawatts and will be the largest manufactured in Europe to date. Currently the largest in operation is in Fukushima, with a power of 10 megawatts, very close to the nuclear power plant where the accident occurred in 2011. The objective of the promoters of this initiative is to progressively increase the power of the equipment that they will manufacture, although this will require a long period of research and development. «The initiative – indicated the president of Iberdrola, Ignacio Galán – will allow accelerating the production of green hydrogen in Spain, creating a new industry with high growth potential, such as is the manufacture of electrolyzers. This will reduce energy dependence and the consumption of fossil fuels and promote the economic and social revitalization of the country, “he explained this Wednesday after announcing the creation of the new company.