Green Hydrogen, a triple opportunity for Asturias: clean energy, economy, and employment

Its use as an energy vector will be key to the green, digital and sustainable transformation of our region’s production model.

Last week we assisted in Gijón to the meeting with the Asturian industrial technical engineers, collegiate at the COGITIPA, sharing a common thread: green hydrogen as a vector for energy transition and a lever for change in the Asturias production model.

The conference, held within the framework of the Asturias International Trade Fair (FIDMA, organized by the Gijón Chamber of Commerce), highlighted the great opportunity that green hydrogen represents for Asturias as a clean and sustainable energy generator and as a driver of economic activity and employment.

“Green hydrogen can mean for Asturias what coal meant for it”, said Enrique Fernández, Regional Minister of Industry, Employment, and Economic Promotion of the Government of Asturias, in his speech. For the minister, Asturias must diversify its energy sources and accelerate their implementation in order to move towards the transformation of its economy, in line with the guidelines of the European Union.

Our region, said Fernández, has everything it needs to be at the forefront of the “hydrogen race”. Asturias has leading companies (some with foreign capital) involved in the hydrogen value chain, producers of this green energy, water to supply the processes, infrastructures, large consumers of the energy produced, and the talent and the capabilities to continue advancing in this field.

As examples of the progress made to date, the minister cited the HyDeal project, in which Asturias plays a key role, and the initiative Development of a regional H2 ecosystem (ReCoDe H2), promoted by the Asturias Regional Hydrogen Board, driven by the General Directorate for Energy.

The hydrogen plans and capabilities of large companies in Asturias

At the conference, we learned about the plans and capabilities in the field of hydrogen and decarbonization of five large Asturian companies or with a strong presence in our region: EDP Renewables, Enagás, ArcelorMittal, IDESA and TSK.

The Portuguese-owned energy company EDP Renewables presented its plans related to hydrogen for Asturias. The aim is to replace the thermal power plants of Soto de Ribera and Aboño. EDP wants Aboño to be the epicentre of the “Asturias Hydrogen Valley”, including electrolysis and photovoltaic plants, hydrogen storage plants and a hydrogen plant for heavy transport. In Soto de Ribera, and to complement the Aboño project, an electrolysis plant, combined gas cycles or hydroscrews would also be installed. The company’s expectations are to reach 1,000 MW of renewable energy installed in Asturias by 2030.

As for Enagás, the most relevant aspect today in Asturias is its participation in the HyDeal Spain consortium, which will be the first industrial implementation of the HyDeal Ambition platform in Europe. It will supply Asturian industry with renewable hydrogen for the production of green steel, green ammonia, green fertilizers and other low-carbon industrial products. Enagás’ presence in HyDeal, the world’s largest integrated renewable and competitive hydrogen hub, is crucial for the development of hydrogen transport and storage infrastructures. The company is also finalizing preparations for the start-up of its regasification plant at the Port of El Musel in Gijón.

Steel giant ArcelorMittal has also made a huge bet on the HyDeal project, which it hopes will give it access to the volume of green hydrogen needed to progress on its decarbonization roadmap for steel production in Spain. ArcelorMittal has a macro project in the pipeline to reduce CO₂ emissions generated in Spain by 50% by 2025. At the heart of the plan is the construction in Gijón of a direct reduction iron ore (DRI) plant with green hydrogen, which will have a production capacity of 2.3 million tonnes per year. It will be complemented by a hybrid electric furnace with a capacity of 1.1 million tonnes. The planned investment is €1 billion.

The Asturian company IDESA, one of the most important companies in the design and manufacture of capital goods worldwide, is finding its opportunity as part of the value chain in green hydrogen through knowledge. IDESA manufactures storage solutions and develops the installation works. It is currently collaborating with Iberdrola on Europe’s largest green hydrogen complex for industrial use, located in Puertollano. IDESA actively participated in the design of the H₂ storage generated by the electrolysers and signed a first contract for the supply of five storage tanks.

Finally, the Asturian engineering company TSK is also involved in the development of the HyDeal España project. HyDeal España has selected TSK to provide technical support to the project as engineering representative of the platform, in the role of Owner’s Engineer. TSK will be the technological partner of the promoter consortium and will participate in various phases of the project, including the development and construction of the hydrogen production plants planned by HyDeal.

The ultimate goal of all these strategies and projects is to join the collective effort towards a green, digital and sustainable transformation of the productive model of Asturias, always putting industry, innovation and sustainability on the table.