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Is photovoltaic technology going to make competitive green hydrogen production possible?

By: Capital Energy · 16 Jun 2020

  • Hydrogen is an important accessory to ensuring greater inroads onto the system by photovoltaic technology using seasonal storage.
  • Competitive green hydrogen production could convert Spain into an exporter country and an important international hub.
  • Development of this sector involves a significant opportunity to drive reindustrialisation in Spain based on hydrogen and photovoltaic technology, industries which have a competitive business fabric.

Madrid, 16th June 2020. UNEF held a new open virtual dialogue on “Hydrogen and photovoltaic technology. Two essential travelling companions?”, broadcast live on YouTube, within the #DialogosSolaresDesdeCasa initiative.

This dialogue was moderated by Lorena Farrás, Editor of La Vanguardia, and Antonio González García-Conde, Vice-President of the Spanish Hydrogen Association (AeH2) and President of the Spanish Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technology Platform (PTE HPC), Enrique Iriarte, Innovation – Projects Director, Energy Department at Acciona and Beatriz Ruiz Castelló, Head of Energy Storage at Capital Energy took part.

The experts highlighted that photovoltaic energy makes competitively priced green hydrogen possible and all agreed that both technologies should be marked out as key factors to achieving decarbonisation objectives in various sectors, such as transport, industry and electricity. In the latter, hydrogen makes greater integration of renewable energy possible, while also increasing the electricity system’s resilience. Along these lines, José Donoso, Director General of UNEF, commented, “For photovoltaic, which has become the new conventional technology, hydrogen presents itself as an interesting alternative for seasonal storage. In the future, hydrogen will be a significant part of photovoltaic projects, along with other components such as the panels or inverters”.

For his part, Antonio González commented: “Hydrogen is a key energy driver for sector coupling, with huge potential for decarbonising the Spanish economy, acting in emission-intensive sectors and enabling greater inroads by renewable energy into the mix. Spain could be a major producer and exporter of renewable hydrogen to northern Europe”.

Beatriz Ruiz Castelló also added, “At Capital Energy we are committed to the potential of renewable energy and green hydrogen in contributing to a Fair Transition of energy, society and the environment. The synergies between photovoltaic resources and green hydrogen generation can contribute decisively to creating a new business fabric in Spain and Europe, and to industrial, urban and mobility decarbonisation”.

Impetus for innovation and economies of scale, necessary elements to optimise the costs of hydrogen

The experts all agreed on the need to boost hydrogen development to accelerate reduction of its costs and take advantage of the increase in competitiveness that has been seen in renewable technologies over the last few years. This is particularly the case with photovoltaic, with R+D+i support programmes started up by public institutions and achieving economies of scale that make it possible to attain sustainable economic and financial models.

For his part, Enrique Iriarte pointed out: “At Acciona we are committed to renewable, or green, hydrogen generated in electrolysers fed by 100%-renewable energy, as an angle to energy that can make a huge contribution to decarbonising the economy. For example, we are developing a project in Mallorca for mobility and network injection”.

The importance of having a national Hydrogen Route Map was also stressed, to define aims for production and use of the technology in the short, medium and long term, and give the information needed to attract investment in R+D+i.

Spain can make the most of the opportunity presented by development of the hydrogen sector to take up a position of international benchmark, as has happened in the photovoltaic sector, and, at the same time, drive reindustrialisation based on both technologies, to take advantage of the competitive business fabric that is a feature of both industries.

The next dialogue in the #DiálogosSolaresDesdeCasa on how to define the most suitable investor for a self-consumption facility with no waste will be held on Wednesday 17th June at 12:00.

About UNEF

The Spanish Photovoltaic Union (UNEF) is a photovoltaic solar energy sector association in Spain. It is made up of more than 400 companies, bodies and groups from the technology’s entire value chain, represents more than 85% of the activity in the sector in Spain and brings together almost all of it: producers, installers, engineers, raw materials, modules and parts manufacturers, distributors and consultants. UNEF is also the chair and co-secretary of FOTOPLAT, the Spanish technological photovoltaic platform. The platform is a combination of universities, research centres and benchmark companies in photovoltaic R+D in Spain.