Dub pipeline carrying gas from Portugal through to France “a step backwards in climate policies”
Today is bringing all kinds of news with regard to the famous ‘gas pipeline’ celebrated by the prime ministers of Portugal, France and Spain in October.
With the governments of all three countries meeting today in Alicante to thrash the plan out further, NGOs have been criticising what they call the “green pretext” of the pipeline, which was presented to the public as “a green energy corridor”, on the basis that it would start by transporting natural gas, but then move to green hydrogen.
The NGOs of Portugal, Spain and Germany see the whole plan as nonsense. So do experts who have explained the logistical impossibility of a pipeline doubling up for gas and hydrogen (the two fuels require completely different infrastructure) – and now stories are emerging to suggest political leaders have finally twigged (see update below).
Says Observador this morning, “according to official sources of the Spanish government, the project worked on by technical teams – with the aim of applying for European funding – only includes the possibility of hydrogen in the connection known as Bar-Mar” (envisaged to link Barcelona with Marseille).
“This is because European funding for new projects, from scratch, is only possible for green hydrogen, the same sources said”.
Thus the objections of NGOs Zero (Portugal), Ecologistas en Acción (Spain) and Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Germany) have at least, in part, received answers.
However, there is still the Portuguese-Spanish pipeline envisaged, CelZa – providing an energy connection between Celorico da Beira in Portugal, and Zamora in Spain – which Spanish government sources believe “should maintain the possibility of transporting gas, up to a limited percentage, as it could be considered a modernisation or upgrade project of an existing one”.
Whatever is decided, work on these pipelines will take “some considerable years”, says Observador, thus the Barcelona-Marseille connection (BarMar) “cannot be seen as a solution to the current energy crisis, with the threat of gas supply problems in central Europe”. It stands as a “response for a future context”, when the European Union has “greater autonomy in terms of energy”, says the paper.
In other words, the ‘presentation’ of the “historic” green energy corridor made by Portugal’s prime minister António Costa has changed a great deal – and the issue of electricity connections between Portugal and Spain is still not completely settled, or even properly explained.
Today’s meeting in Alicante will also count on the presence of European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
UPDATE: Portugal’s PM António Costa took the complete change of plan in his stride, telling the press conference after the event today, that the agreement reached “significantly changes the paradigm because, in addition to simply being importers and re-exporters of energy, we will also strengthen our position as producers and exporters of energy to the whole of Europe”.
Very little was said about the fact that these new pipelines will both be dedicated SOLELY to ‘green hydrogen’ “without the possibility of immediately transporting gas as well, as had been initially announced”, explains Lusa.