Repsol produces renewable hydrogen from biomethane from urban solid waste

AJ Gonzalez | October 20, 2021

Green Car Congress, 11 October 2021, Posted on 11 October 2021 in Biomethane / RNGFuelsHydrogenHydrogen ProductionMarket Background

Spain-based energy and petrochemical company Repsol has produced renewable hydrogen using biomethane as raw material for the first time. This renewable hydrogen was used to manufacture fuels with a low carbon footprint, such as gasoline, diesel, or kerosene for aviation.

This milestone took place at Repsol’s Cartagena Industrial Complex, where 10 tons of renewable hydrogen were produced from 500 MWh of biomethane, thus avoiding the emission of about 90 tons of CO2.

The biomethane used as raw material was obtained from urban solid waste. In this way, Repsol replaces conventional natural gas with biomethane of sustainable origin to produce renewable hydrogen in its industrial complexes and thus decarbonize its processes and products.

This first industrial test carried out by Repsol will also serve as an example for developing the system of guarantees of origin for renewable gases to be implemented in Spain.

Repsol is transforming its industrial complexes into multi-energy hubs capable of transforming waste and other renewable raw materials into products with a low, zero, or even a negative carbon footprint. Repsol uses energy efficiency, the circular economy, renewable hydrogen, and CO2 capture and use technologies to achieve this.

Repsol has had a circular economy strategy in place since 2018. It has resulted in more than 230 initiatives and the ambition to use four million tons of waste annually by 2030 as raw material for its products. In October 2020, the company announced the construction of Spain’s first advanced biofuels plant to be commissioned in 2023. It will be located in Cartagena and will have an annual capacity of 250,000 tons of biofuels produced from waste for use in cars, trucks, and airplanes. In the port of Bilbao, near the Petronor Industrial Complex, Repsol plans to build a plant to generate biogas from urban waste.

As for renewable hydrogen, Repsol has already announced its intention to become a market leader in the Iberian Peninsula by installing a capacity of 552 MW equivalent in 2025 and 1.9 GW in 2030. Repsol is currently the leading producer and consumer of hydrogen in Spain, and it uses this gas regularly as a raw material in its industrial processes.

The company is already deploying a multitude of projects throughout the renewable hydrogen value chain. It is promoting the creation of large regional consortiums to promote major industrial projects, such as the Basque Hydrogen Corridor, the Hydrogen Valley in Catalonia, the Hydrogen cluster in Castilla-La Mancha, and the renewable hydrogen hub around the Escombreras Valley in Cartagena.

On 20 September, Repsol announced that it will start up its first electrolyzer in Petronor, with a capacity of 2.5 MW, in 2022. In 2024, a 10 MW electrolyzer is scheduled to start up, also in the vicinity of Petronor, to serve the synthetic fuels plant that the company will build together with Saudi Aramco. In addition, Repsol plans to construct other electrolyzers at Petronor and Cartagena, each with a capacity of 100 MW, to supply its industrial complexes with renewable hydrogen.

The achievement of these objectives will be made possible through the installation of electrolyzers and biogas production plants at the company’s industrial complexes, as well as the development of the proprietary photoelectrocatalysis technology. This technology is a joint development of Repsol and Enagas, and a demonstration plant will be installed at the Puertollano industrial complex in 2025 to obtain hydrogen directly from water using solar energy.

Repsol will allocate an additional €1 billion to low-carbon projects in the 2021-2025 period, up to a total of €6.5 billion, compared to the €5.5 billion established in the company’s Strategic Plan. Now, investments earmarked for low-emission initiatives will stand at 35% in the 2021-2025 period, and the capital employed for these purposes will reach 45% in 2030. The new values represent an increase of five percentage points with respect to those established in the Strategic Plan presented almost a year ago.

The company aims to produce two million tons of low-carbon fuels by 2030. The planned advanced biofuels plant in Cartagena is scheduled to start up in the first quarter of 2023, and it will avoid the emission of 900,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.

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