Green hydrogen: an alternative that reduces emissions and cares for our planet

#climate change #environmental sustainability #R&D

Decarbonising the planet is one of the goals that countries around the world have set for 2050. To achieve this, decarbonising the production of an element like hydrogen, giving rise to green hydrogen, is one of the keys as this is currently responsible for more than 2 % of total global CO2 emissions. Find out how this is achieved and what its impact will be in the coming decades.

Our way of life needs an increasing amount of watts to function. The latest estimates by the International Energy Agency (IEA), published at the end of 2019, predict that global energy demand will increase by between 25 % and 30 % by 2040, which in an economy dependent on coal and oil would mean more CO2, exacerbating climate change. However, decarbonising the planet suggests a different world in 2050: one that is more accessible, efficient and sustainable, and driven by clean energies such as green hydrogen.


This technology is based on the generation of hydrogen — a universal, light and highly reactive fuel — through a chemical process known as electrolysis. This method uses an electrical current to separate the hydrogen from the oxygen in water. If this electricity is obtained from renewable sources we will, therefore, produce energy without emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

As the IEA points out, this method of obtaining green hydrogen would save the 830 million tonnes of CO2 that are emitted annually when this gas is produced using fossil fuels. Likewise, replacing all grey hydrogen in the world would require 3,000 TWh/year from new renewables — equivalent to current demand of Europe. However, there are some questions about the viability of green hydrogen because of its high production cost; reasonable doubts that will disappear as the decarbonisation of the earth progresses and, consequently, the generation of renewable energy becomes cheaper.

Producing green hydrogen by electrolysis from renewable sources involves breaking down water molecules (H2O) into oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (H2).
1. The water used in the electrolysis
must contain salts and minerals
to conduct the electricity.
2. Two electrodes are immersed in the water and connected to a power source and a direct current is applied.
3. The dissociation of hydrogen and oxygen occurs when the electrodes attract ions with an opposite charge to them.
4. During the electrolysis, an oxidation-reduction reaction occurs due to the effect of the electricity.
4H++4e- ➔ 2H2
2H2O ➔ O2+4H++4e-
Source: U.S. Department of Energy and Wood Mackenzie.


 SEE INFOGRAPHIC: How is green hydrogen obtained? [PDF]


Hydrogen is the most abundant chemical element in nature. As noted by the IEA, the global demand for hydrogen for use as a fuel has tripled since 1975 and reached 70 million tonnes a year in 2018. In addition, it is a clean energy source that only emits water vapour and leaves no residue in the air, unlike coal and oil.

Hydrogen has a long-standing relationship with industry. This gas has been used to fuel cars, airships and spaceships since the beginning of the 19th century. The decarbonisation of the world economy, a process that cannot be postponed, will give hydrogen more prominence. In addition, if its production costs fall by 50 % by 2030, as predicted by the World Hydrogen Council, we will undoubtedly be looking at one of the fuels of the future.


In its commitment to lead the energy transition, Iberdrola is spearheading the development of green hydrogen to meet the electrification and decarbonisation needs of sectors such as industry and heavy goods transport. The company has announced the creation of a new green hydrogen business unit with which it intends to position itself as world leader in this technology. The group is thus placing itself at the forefront of this new technological challenge which involves the production and supply of hydrogen from clean energy sources, using 100 % renewable energy for the electrolysis process.

As part of its investment plan between now and 2030, amounting to €150 billion, green hydrogen will be a major vector for growth. Iberdrola is already developing several projects that will enable the decarbonisation of industry and heavy transport in Spain and the UK as well as developing its value chain. The company has also submitted 54 projects to the EU's Next Generation programme, which would trigger investments of €2.5 billion to reach green hydrogen production of 60,000 tonnes/year. The group hopes to produce 85,000 tonnes annually by 2030.


  • sub MULTIPLE PROJECTS IN THE UNITED STATES AVANGRID positioned to build the future of green hydrogen in the US.

    AVANGRID positioned to build the future of green hydrogen in the US

    Following a request for information (RFI) from the US Department of Energy in search of large-scale clean, low-cost hydrogen, Iberdrola's US subsidiary, AVANGRID, has presented proposals for several projects in different states: constructing a 20 MW electrolyser and hydrogen storage facility in Connecticut; constructing a multi-use hydrogen facility in Rochester, New York; exploring the use of hydrogen for multiple applications in Maine; utilising the Klamath cogeneration plant for hydrogen production in Oregon; and harnessing Avangrid Renewables' wind generation capacity to produce green hydrogen and ammonia on the Gulf Coast, thanks to its nationwide presence and leading renewable energy fleet.


    We are putting into operation what will be the biggest green hydrogen plant for industrial use in Europe

    Puertollano plant (Ciudad Real) will consist of a 100 MW photovoltaic solar plant, a lithium-ion battery system with a storage capacity of 20 MWh and one of the largest electrolytic hydrogen production systems in the world (20 MW). Following its entry into operation, scheduled for 2021, it will produce green hydrogen for the ammonia factory which Fertiberia has in the locality. The initiative involves an investment of €150 million, will create as many as 700 jobs, and will prevent the emission into the atmosphere of 48,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

  • sub PILOT PROJECT IN BRAZIL Green hydrogen in Puerto de Suape.

    Neoenergia and the Government of Pernambuco enter into an agreement to produce green hydrogen in Puerto de Suape

    Iberdrola's subsidiary in Brazil, Neoenergia, has signed a collaboration agreement with the Government of Pernambuco to develop a pilot project to produce green energy in Suape Port. The initiative aims to find market opportunities and prepare the port complex to become a green hydrogen production centre in the future.

  • sub PRODUCTION OF GREEN METHANOL We plan investments in renewable hydrogen for the production of methanol.

    We plan investments in renewable hydrogen for the production of methanol

    Iberdrola and Foresa analyse the development of investments in renewable hydrogen for the industrial production of green methanol in Galicia. Both companies could tackle the construction of a 20 MW green hydrogen plant — expandable to 200 MW — obtained by electrolysis with renewable energy, as well as the installation of equipment to capture CO2 from biomass combustion plants. The projects will be co-located at Foresa's plants in Galicia and the initial investment — which is eligible for Next Generation EU funds — would exceed 82 million euros, a volume that could reach 400 million if planned expansions are undertaken. In the first phase, green methanol production of 10,000 tn/year would be achieved, which could be scaled up to 100,000 tn/year, therefore preventing the emission of 470,000 tn/year of CO2.


    Cummins partners with Iberdrola to lead the green hydrogen value chain

    Global energy leader Cummins has announced plans to invest in Spain, specifically in Castilla-La Mancha, where it will build one of the largest electrolyser green hydrogen production plants. This investment follows Iberdrola and Cummins' decision to partner on large-scale hydrogen production projects in Spain and Portugal. The facility, in which 50 million euros will be invested, will house the assembly and testing of systems that will produce 500 MW of green hydrogen per year, rising to 1 GW/year. The plant, which will initially occupy 22,000 square metres, will be operational in 2023 and will generate 350 jobs as production increases.

  • sub DECARBONISING INDUSTRY Agreement with Mitsubishi Power.

    Agreement with Mitsubishi Power to promote renewable solutions aimed at decarbonizing industry

    Iberdrola and Mitsubishi Power have signed a collaboration agreement to jointly develop competitive, clean and safe energy solutions based on renewable energy that promote the decarbonization of industrial production in different regions around the world. The alliance between the two companies, world leaders in storage and renewable energy production and equipment, will develop green hydrogen production facilities, battery storage systems and electrified heat production facilities with the aim of promoting carbon neutral industries in the short and medium term.

  • sub DECARBONISING HEAVY TRANSPORT We are planning the Basque Y green hydrogen project.

    We are planning the Basque Y green hydrogen project to electrify heavy transport in the Basque Country

    The creation of this corridor will entail building three hydrogen generation plants in the logistical centres of Vitoria/Júndiz, Bilbao and Pasaia for the purpose of facilitating the decarbonisation of heavy road transport, buses and light industrial vehicles. It will also help to decarbonise the chemical industry and port and airport use in the region. This project, which is modular, expandable and for public use, will require an investment of more than 37 million euros and will include the construction of 10 MW of electrolysers for a total production of 4,000 kg/day of green hydrogen, as well as photovoltaic plants for self-consumption and batteries to store excess energy.

  • sub GREEN HYDROGEN FOR BIOFUELS We are studying the largest green hydrogen production project in the Valencia Autonomous Region.

    We are studying the largest green hydrogen production project in the Valencia Autonomous Region

    BP, Iberdrola and Enagás have reached an agreement to study the development of the first phase of the largest green hydrogen production project in the Valencia Autonomous Region, to be implemented at BP's plant in Castellón. The objective is to evaluate the installation of a 20 MW electrolyser that will generate green hydrogen from renewable energy produced by a 40 MW photovoltaic plant, in addition to other sources. This new project would replace the grey hydrogen used by BP's refinery to produce biofuels, reducing CO2 emissions by up to 24,000 tonnes per year.

  • sub NET ZERO FOR 2050 The ETC identifies green hydrogen as the necessary complement to electrification.

    The ETC identifies green hydrogen as the necessary complement to electrification to achieve emissions neutrality by 2050

    The Energy Transitions Commission (ETC) — a coalition of more than 45 global energy firm leaders (including Iberdrola), financial institutions, and defenders of the environment — has published two new reports highlighting the fact that clean electrification will be the key to achieving an economy with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, in conjunction with the development of green hydrogen to decarbonise those sectors that are difficult or impossible to electrify. The ETC also points out that both cooperation from the private sector as well as political commitment are vital to drive this technology forward and achieve a production of 50 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen by 2030.

  • sub ELECTRIFY CERAMIC PRODUCTION The first solution to electrify the production of ceramics using green hydrogen and a heat pump.

    The first solution to electrify the production of ceramics using green hydrogen and a heat pump

    Iberdrola and Porcelanosa are working on their first full-scale innovative solution for electrifying the production of ceramics, using green hydrogen and a heat pump. The so-called GREENH2KER project involves installing an electrolyser powered from a photovoltaic plant to produce green hydrogen at the Porcelanosa plant in Vila-Real (Castellón). It also includes a technological structure that harnesses excess residual heat from production lines using highly efficient systems.

  • sub HYDROGEN PLANT NEXT TO WHITELEE We are developing the first hydrogen plant in Glasgow, Scotland.

    We are developing the first hydrogen plant in Glasgow, Scotland

    Our UK subsidiary, ScottishPower, has submitted an application to build a green hydrogen plant next to its Whitelee wind farm, which, with 539 MW of power, is the largest in the country. The plant will house the UK's biggest electrolyser at 20 MW and will include a hybrid solar energy system to power it, as well as a battery system with a maximum capacity of 50 MW. The project, which could produce up to 8 tonnes of green hydrogen a day, forms part of the partnership Green Hydrogen for Scotland.

  • sub CORRIDOR IN VALENCIA AND MURCIA We are creating a green hydrogen corridor in the Valencia and Murcia regions.

    We are creating a green hydrogen corridor in the Valencia and Murcia regions

    Iberdrola is leading the creation of a green hydrogen corridor which involves the construction of three hydrogen plants in Valencia, Alicante and Murcia, each with 5 MW of electrolysing power to generate and supply green hydrogen to heavy road freight fleets, interurban bus fleets and light industrial vehicles. The project includes the construction of a self-generation photovoltaic plant at each site to allow the facilities to power themselves solely with electricity from zero-emission sources.

  • #economy #employment #renewable energy

    Next Generation EU.

    We are mobilising investments of €2.5 bn to install 1 GW of electrolysers in Spain

    Iberdrola leads 54 renewable hydrogen projects presented to the Next Generation EU programme — through the Spanish government's Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan — which will mobilise an investment of over €2.5 billion to install more than 1 GW of electrolysers in the country. This programme would make it possible to produce 60,000 tonnes of green hydrogen a year, equivalent to 25 % of the national target — which forecasts the installation of 4 GW by 2030 — and would mean that over 25 % of the hydrogen currently consumed in Spain would produce no CO2 emissions.

  • sub NEW SCOTTISHPOWER UNIT ScottishPower joins the green hydrogen revolution.

    ScottishPower joins the green hydrogen revolution

    Our UK subsidiary has launched a new commercial division dedicated to supplying green hydrogen as part of its commitment to the roll-out of this low-carbon technology. ScottishPower is thus intending to contribute to the decarbonisation of industrial processes, the food and drink sector, and freight transport, working to achieve this with distilleries, petrochemical companies and the steel and ammonia industries. In this way the company will help to achieve the UK government's target of having 5 GW of green hydrogen by 2030.

  • sub HYDROGENERY IN BARCELONA FREE-TRADE ZONE We will supply green hydrogen for Barcelona's buses.

    We will supply green hydrogen for Barcelona's buses

    Iberdrola has been awarded the construction and operation for 10 years of a hydrogen plant to be used by the buses of Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) and other fleets and industries in the industrial area of the city's Free-Trade Zone, where it will be sited. The plant will be the first public one in Spain and will supply hydrogen from renewable sources produced by electrolysis, to create a green hydrogen hub in one of the main industrial areas.

  • sub GREEN HYDROGEN CATAPULT We are forming a global consortium to speed up green hydrogen production.

    We are forming a global consortium to speed up green hydrogen production

    Iberdrola, together with six leading global industrial companies, has created a global alliance, Green Hydrogen Catapult, to speed up the scale and production of green hydrogen 50-fold over the next six years, helping to transform the world's most carbon-intensive industries, including power generation, chemicals, steel manufacturing and heavy transport. The aim is to deploy 25 GW of green hydrogen in the run up to 2026, as well as to reduce its production costs by half, to under $2 a kilo.


    We are uniting with the world's biggest electrolyser manufacturer to put Spain at the forefront of green hydrogen

    Iberdrola has entered into an agreement with Nel to develop large electrolysers and promote the value chain of this technology in Spain. For this project, the energy company has joined forces with Basque company Ingeteam to create Iberlyzer, a company that will become Spain's first mass producer of electrolysers. Iberlyzer will commence operations in 2021 and will supply over 200 MW of electrolysers by 2023, destined for the second project in the partnership between Iberdrola and Fertiberia, which will produce green hydrogen for the Palos de la Frontera plant.


    We are planning 830 MW of green hydrogen to put Spain at the leading edge of Europe

    Iberdrola and Fertiberia have embarked on a comprehensive project covering the production of 830 MW of green hydrogen with an investment of €1.8 billion until 2027. The innovation initiative, starting with the commissioning of the Puertollano complex, could be completed with a plan to multiply by 40 the capacity of this first plant with the development of three other projects between 2023 and 2027, planned for the Fertiberia plant in this town in Ciudad Real province, and for the one in Palos de la Frontera, in Huelva.

  • sub GREEN HYDROGEN FOR SCOTLAND We are creating a partnership to supply green hydrogen to service stations in Scotland.

    We are creating a partnership to supply green hydrogen to service stations in Scotland

    Green Hydrogen for Scotland is the partnership made up of Iberdrola's subsidiary, ScottishPower Renewables, together with BOC and ITM Power, with the aim of creating a green hydrogen production network and offering comprehensive market solutions to reduce emissions in sectors that are difficult to decarbonise, such as heavy goods transport, buses and refuse collection vehicles. This pioneering initiative, which is in support of the UK's target of reaching zero carbon emissions by 2045, will build facilities to produce hydrogen from clean energy sources and supply it to service stations throughout Scotland.

  • sub RENEWABLE HYDROGEN COALITION We are promoting the key role of renewable hydrogen.

    We are promoting the key role of renewable hydrogen for the decarbonisation of Europe

    Iberdrola is part of the Renewable Hydrogen Coalition, a partnership that promotes the fundamental role of this technology in achieving the European Union's decarbonisation targets. The coalition was born after the success of the campaign Choose Renewable Hydrogen through which the main companies in the European energy sector — including Iberdrola — urged the European Commission to adopt the necessary measures to take maximum advantage of green hydrogen. As a result, hydrogen from renewable sources was acknowledged in the EU's Hydrogen Strategy as being the only sustainable solution.


 Access our webinar on green hydrogen


This energy source has pros and cons that we must be aware of. Let's go over some of its most important good points:

  • 100 % sustainable: green hydrogen does not emit polluting gases either during combustion or during production.
  • Storable: hydrogen is easy to store, which allows it to be used subsequently for other purposes and at times other than immediately after its production.
  • Versatile: green hydrogen can be transformed into electricity or synthetic gas and used for domestic, commercial, industrial or mobility purposes.
  • Transportable: it can be mixed with natural gas at ratios of up to 20 % and travel through the same gas pipes and infrastructure - increasing this percentage would require changing different elements in the existing gas networks to make them compatible.

However, green hydrogen also has negative aspects that should be borne in mind:

  • High cost: energy from renewable sources, which are key to generating green hydrogen through electrolysis, is more expensive to generate, which in turn makes hydrogen more expensive to obtain.
  • High energy consumption: the production of hydrogen in general and green hydrogen in particular requires more energy than other fuels.
  • Safety issues: hydrogen is a highly volatile and flammable element and extensive safety measures are therefore required to prevent leakage and explosions.


Hydrogen as a fuel is a reality in countries like the United States, Russia, China, France and Germany. Others like Japan are going even further and aspire to become a hydrogen economy. Below we explain what the impact will be in the future:

 Electricity and drinking water generator

These two elements are obtained by reacting hydrogen and oxygen together in a fuel cell. This process has proved very useful on space missions, for example, by providing crews with water and electricity in a sustainable manner.

 Energy storage

Compressed hydrogen tanks are capable of storing energy for long periods of time and are also easier to handle than lithium-ion batteries because they are lighter.

 Transport and mobility

Hydrogen's great versatility allows it to be used in those consumption niches that are very difficult to decarbonise, such as heavy transport, aviation and maritime transport. There are already several projects under way in this area, such as Hycarus and Cryoplane, which are promoted by the European Union (EU) and aim to introduce it in passenger aircraft.