ICONSA, an IDEA Group company, has been awarded the specialised O&G engineering works for the largest green hydrogen plant in Europe for IBERDROLA.
Our colleagues at ICONSA will provide the specialised O&G engineering services to carry out the “Green H2 Plant”, project for IBERDROLA at Puertollano, during the first half of 2021.
A pioneer in renewable energies,Iberdrola, has started work on what will be the largest green hydrogen plant for industrial use in Europe, and ICONSA, a member of the IDEAGrouphas been awarded the contract for the development of the basic and detailed engineering activities for the safety valve and flare discharge systems for H2 streams and the reception, compression and delivery of O2..
It is a strategic project that is part of IDEAGREEN which is the IDEA GROUP’s corporate strategy towards the decarbonisation of the planet.
Iconsa will carry out the development of the basic and detailed engineering activities for the safety valve and flare discharge systems for H2 streams and the reception, compression and delivery of O2.
Interview with David Fernández, Technical Manager at Iconsa, regarding the project.
On the occasion of this great sustainable and pioneering project, we interviewed David Fernández López, Technical Manager at ICONSA and an expert in the design of industrial facilities for handling hydrogen, who told us all the details of this great opportunity.
- What is ICONSA’s experience in industrial hydrogen or green hydrogen plants?
Thanks to ICONSA’s extensive experience in green hydrogen, we are currently initiating the first projects to take advantage of hydrogen technology for its industrial use.
Iconsa has more than 20 years of expertise in hydrogen handling in facilities for the petrochemical and fertiliser industries, these being the main industries that consume and handle hydrogen. As far as completed projects are concerned, I could mention a number of works carried out for large companies including Repsol, Fertibería, or ILBOC among others over all these years.
- Could you briefly share what is the project scope?
In general terms, work consists of using electricity via renewable sources, in this case, photovoltaic energy, to generate clean hydrogen from water and its subsequent use/sending to the current ammonia plant.
- What kind of works will be carried out by ICONSA?
Iconsa will develop two types of works. On the one hand, the engineering and design of the compression, storage and delivery facilities for the oxygen generated, and the venting and emergency facilities for the hydrogen units will be carried out.
On the other hand, supervision and support works will be carried out for Iberdrola as a specialist in hydrogen facilities, commenting and checking the documents prepared in the development of the oxygen and hydrogen facilities engineering.
I could say that we have become an engineering company specialised in Oil&Gas and the design of hydrogen installations.
- The new Puertollano plant will have one of the largest hydrogen manufacturing systems by electrolysis in the world (20 MW). What does this imply?
It is the first major project for the storage or manufacturing of hydrogen for industrial use based on an electrolysis system. As any innovative project, it will pose new challenges throughout the project that will force us to make a greater effort to overcome them. This experience will enrich us and will be the basis to face the implementation of this technology in other industrial projects.
- When will this plant be operational? Are there similar plants for industrial use in Spain?
Theoretically, in thefirst quarter of 2022, and it will be commissioned at the end of December 2021.
No, this is the first plant in Spain to use green hydrogen as an industry raw material. Although the possibility of building another larger green hydrogen plant in Huelva, also for Fertiberia, is already being analysed.
- The Puertollano plant will produce 100% renewable hydrogen for manufacturing “green” ammonia and emission-free fertilisers. But what is green ammonia?
The term “green ammonia” refers to ammonia manufactured from green hydrogen, or hydrogen obtained from renewable or clean energy sources.
Hydrogen is obtained from the electrolysis process, which is the decomposition of water molecules (H2O) into its elements, hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2), when an external electric current (electricity from renewable sources) is applied, being hydrogen the one used as the raw material for ammonia.
It is important to point out that ammonia is one of the most energy-intensive of all high-volume chemical products, and is essential for fertiliser manufacture. So to be able to obtain carbon-free or green fertilisers is a big step towards sustainability.
- Do you think it can open doors for the development of new hydrogen projects for ICONSA?
Of course I do! I believe that this can be a launching platform for similar industrial use projects, not only at the national level, but also at the international level. Whether for the petrochemical, pharmaceutical, fertiliser or food industry, which use hydrogen as a source or raw material in their processes.
- Green hydrogen is trending and there is talk that it is the energy of the future, what do you think?
If we talk about green hydrogen as a source of energy, and not as an industrial use, and that future is 25 years from now, I am totally convinced, but in the short term I do not think so. I think that as an industrial use it does have a longer way to go. For it to be a viable energy source, a major effort to redevelop the entire infrastructure of the country would have to be carried out. As I mentioned earlier, energy storage is one of the great challenges to be faced by the sector over the coming years.
- I imagine you remember the tragic case of the Hindenburg blimp. Do you think that the bad reputation attached to hydrogen by this and other incidents could jeopardise this energy source and, even if it is “trending”, is it actually dangerous?
Hydrogen does indeed have a very bad reputation as a flammable product, but its behaviour, under the right conditions, is even more noble than petrol. Among its features, hydrogen is a very light, volatile compound, easily dispersed and with a higher autoignition temperature than petrol itself. In short, with the right designs, it is safe.
- Considering that it is a flammable energy source, are there actually enough qualified professionals to work with hydrogen?
Of course there are Professionals coming from the Oil & Gas sector, where hydrogen is regularly handled, are used to working with gases containing hydrogen, so they have experience and knowledge that qualifies them to work with green hydrogen.
About the largest green hydrogen plant in Europe
The Puertollano (Ciudad Real) plant will consist of a 100 MW solar photovoltaic plant, a lithium-ion battery system with a storage capacity of 20 MWh and one of the largest electrolysis hydrogen production systems in the world (20 MW), tall from 100 % renewable sources.
The green hydrogen produced there will be used in the ammonia factory that Fertiberia has in the town. The plant will achieve high purity hydrogen and oxygen production by means of polymer electrolysis, with a production capacity of around 720 tH2/year of hydrogen and 5.800 tO2/year of oxygen and will be based on the 20 MW Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) technology by NEL.
It will comprise a 100 MW solar photovoltaic plant, a lithium-ion battery system with a storage capacity of 20 MWh and one of the largest electrolysis hydrogen production systems in the world (20 MW).