Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Green hydrogen was for the first time injected into the Portuguese natural gas network, in a ceremony chaired by Prime Minister António Costa, in Seixal.
82 homes and businesses are being supplied, since October 2022, with a mix made up of 95% natural gas and 5% of hydrogen, yet the official ceremony took place on March 7, in Seixal, where the pilot project to blend hydrogen and natural gas started in January 2022.
In his opening speech, the Prime Minister stated the need for Portugal to pursue a clear and persistent strategy of investing in the development of green hydrogen, which can give energy freedom to the country and place it as an exporter of renewable gases.
“If we want to have a more sustainable future from an environmental point of view, more prosperous from an economic point of view, and freer from a political point of view, then we really have to continue this commitment to renewable energies,” said Costa.
Costa also said noted the importance of “dreaming and actually doing the work”.
“It may not be in a year or two,” Costa said, putting the emphasis on the strategy to pursue while noting that the country has “one of the best structures, one of the most modern infrastructures and one of the best coverages in the distribution infrastructure in the natural gas network.”
Referring to investment in the production of green hydrogen, he pointed to the threat that resulted from the Russia-Ukraine military conflict, stating that “there is an advantage that is evident to everyone since February 24, 2022: no one can be totally dependent on a supplier or external suppliers for the energy you need. Energy autonomy means freedom.”
For this reason, Costa reiterated that when Portugal invests in renewable energies, in its energy autonomy, it is also reinforcing its own freedom.
The Prime Minister recalled that one of the greatest weights in national expenditure in terms of the balance of transactions results from the import of energy. Costa sees this key moment as an opportunity to reduce imports, to replace them and, in the future, to export domestic production. “Every 5% of hydrogen that is injected into the grid is 5% less natural gas that we import,” he said.
The Minister for the Environment and Climate Action, Duarte Cordeiro, stated his conviction that in 2026 Portugal will export products derived from hydrogen for the first time. “By the end of this mandate, we will export something to show that this really is where a great opportunity lies in terms of the future for the country,” said Cordeiro.
Cordeiro went on saying “if the price of energy is not, at this moment, the first topic of current conversation, then it is because what we were able to produce in terms of renewable energies, as well as the protection that we managed to confer on consumers and the industry, allowed today to demonstrate that the country has results to present at this level.”
The hydrogen was injected by the company Floene, with German and Japanese capital, which has nine regional gas distribution operators in Portugal.
Over the next two years, the goal is to gradually increase the volume of hydrogen up to 20%. Floene’s CEO, Gabriel Sousa, assured in an interview last year that “the first gas network in the country where green hydrogen circulates from the producer to the final consumer has been fully operational since October in Seixal”. This happened without having to change existing equipment at customers or make changes to the supply network.
“It’s the first network in the country where part of it runs 100% hydrogen, and it’s working very well”, said Sousa, adding that last year “Floene has already received more than 70 requests for hydrogen injection and biomethane in the network”.