Supply secure – New gas pipeline to France in just 1 year?

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To secure Europe’s energy supply, a third gas pipeline from Spain to France could be completed within a year. The boss of the main Spanish gas network operator Enagas, Arturo Gonzalo Aizpiri, said on Tuesday: “Purely technically, the actual construction of such an infrastructure will take about a year after all permits have been received.”

The damage to Nord Stream 1 and 2 has made the Midcat pipeline even more important, Aizpiri told the German news agency. French President Emmanuel Macron is against the project. France does not want to become a major gas importer, he said as one of the reasons. Macron also recently spoke of five to eight years of construction. This week, shortly before the EU summit on Thursday, there should be a meeting between the heads of governments of Spain and Portugal, Pedro Sánchez and António Costa, and Macron in Paris, Aizpiri said. According to the gas manager, a common European energy market is essential for security of supply for everyone and takes precedence over the interests of individual countries.

Pipeline almost ready
The Midcat pipeline, also advocated by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz along with Sánchez and Costa, runs from Barcelona through the Pyrenees to the connection to the French network at Barbaira in southern France. In Spain, the tube is ready to 106 kilometers south of the border, in France about 120 kilometers is missing. The project was canceled in 2017 due to lack of profitability.

The natural gas to flow through the pipeline to the north can be sourced by Spain and Portugal from a variety of sources. Together, both countries have a total of seven terminals for liquid gas. There are also two pipelines to the gas supplier Algeria in North Africa.

Green hydrogen infrastructure
As early as 2030, the pipe could then be switched from fossil natural gas to so-called green hydrogen, which is produced using solar or wind energy, Aizpiri said. The EU’s plan to transform Europe’s energy system, known as the “REPowerEU” plan, foresees the production of 20 million tons of green hydrogen by 2030, half in Europe and the other half outside the continent. The manager estimates that two million tons of this can be produced in Spain.

Midcat and other tube connections in Europe are also important because transporting hydrogen over long distances by ship is difficult, but it is two to four times cheaper per pipeline than transporting electricity via power lines, Aizpiri said. The European Hydrogen Backbone Initiative (EHB) 31 European gas network operators assume a transport price of 0.11 to 0.21 euros per kilogram per 1000 kilometres. The EMS foresees five potential hydrogen corridors to achieve the European hydrogen targets for 2030. One is the long stretch from the Iberian Peninsula through France to Germany.

Source: Krone

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