60 organizations demand the withdrawal of the Common Interest Projects list: “Its approval will worsen the climate crisis”

  • European and state-level organizations demand a list of projects of common interest (PCI) and Mutual Interest (PMI) “in line with climate objectives and our true common interest.” 
  • The ‘Gas No es Solución’ network criticizes the hydrogen export model based on large infrastructures such as H2Med, which could jeopardize the fair energy transition in Spain. 
  • They also demand that the future hydrogen network manager be completely independent and public, to avoid conflicts of interest with fossil fuel industries. 

The final approval process of the sixth list of European Projects of Common Interest (PCI) and Mutual Interest (PMI) —including cross-border projects for international hydrogen transport, such as H2Med and other hydrogen corridors— is underway. The list was published by the European Commission on November 28 and is currently in the voting phase in the Council and the European Parliament for final approval. 

This list of projects has not gone unnoticed and has sparked controversy both nationally and in Europe. The European Green Party has even filed a comprehensive objection that will be voted on at the next meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) to be held this Thursday, February 22. A preliminary step ahead of the March plenary session. 

To support this comprehensive objection, the Gas No es Solución network has joined 60 European and state-level organizations to “demand a list in line with climate objectives and our true common interest.” As mentioned in a letter sent to the European Parliament, “the list includes a high number of problematic projects, mostly proposed by the fossil fuel industry, which risk reducing the ambition and existing efforts to reduce emissions, undermine the much needed and urgent just transition, and become stranded assets. The list should only include projects whose implementation will contribute to halting the climate crisis.”  

According to the letter, the PCI list includes large-scale hydrogen transport projects lacking adequate environmental and climate impact assessment, prioritized hydrogen supply and use, numerous CO2 transport projects, and large-scale Carbon Capture and Storage. Finally, two fossil gas pipelines: Cyprus’ EastMed and Malta’s Melita TransGas. 

The Gas No es Solución network’s criticism focuses specifically on projects related to hydrogen transport in the Spanish geographical area: H2Med and the hydrogen trunk network. The network considers them projects that “risk being oversized and not meeting the needs of the energy transition.” Enagás submitted them to the PCI/PMI list before conducting its Call for Interest, a first market test aimed at conducting a contrasted analysis of the potential market for renewable hydrogen in Spain to define a tailored proposal for the future Spanish Hydrogen Trunk Network’s infrastructure. The results of the Call for Interest were published on January 31, 2024. Concerning Enagás’ appointment as the provisional manager of the hydrogen trunk network, organizations believe that “the manager of the future hydrogen network should be completely independent —preferably public or under social control— to avoid any conflict of interest with fossil fuel industries in the modelling and planning processes.” 

“We are concerned that the development of hydrogen transport infrastructures is based on a market bubble and the analyses and projections of a private company, as was done with the gas system, resulting in a completely oversized system at the expense of increasing consumers’ bills. We urge the Spanish government to carry out adequate planning and sizing, focusing on the real needs of the eco-social transition in Spain,” Gas No es Solución demands. 

Regarding the impacts, the network states that “the collateral impacts of massive hydrogen production for export must be taken into account.” The National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) currently under review envisages the installation of 11 GW of electrolysers, nearly tripling the government’s 2020 Green Hydrogen Roadmap proposal. Enagás’ so-called “base” scenario envisages the installation of 13.4 GW of electrolysers to produce 1.6 million tons of H2 by 2030, “in this scenario, we would be talking about installing approximately between 40 and 60 GW of additional renewable energies,” according to an estimated analysis by Gas No es Solución. However, the network highlights that “the scenarios for 2030 and 2040 are particularly alarming, both the ‘maximum potential’ (74.3 GW of electrolysers and 7.9 Mt of H2 in 2030; 84.3 GW and 8.7 Mt in 2040) and the so-called ‘Call for interest’ (23.3 GW and 2.5 Mt H2 in 2030) due to the potential impact of developing between approximately 70 GW and 300 GW of additional renewable energy, an order of magnitude that far exceeds the objectives of the PNIEC under review for 2030, which are 62GW for wind and 76GW for photovoltaic solar. Especially considering that there is already significant tension in the territories that is not being adequately addressed.” 

Faced with the model of large infrastructures for hydrogen export, the network proposes the analysis of a proximity model, prioritizing ad hoc productions taking advantage of moments of low electricity demand to avoid high renewable spills during central hours of the day and small networks that allow favouring the local industrial ecosystem: “We cannot replicate the model of large infrastructures that has brought us here, to achieve a fair energy transition with a local vision, we must overcome the idea of mere substitution of fossil energy sources to maintain the same level of production and consumption.” 

Read here the letter sent to the Members of the European Parliament of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee of the European Parliament (ITRE) and the signing organizations 

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