PV project developer Lightsource bp and Portuguese utility Dourogás have agreed to form a joint venture that will explore opportunities in the development of green hydrogen production. The establishment of the joint venture was announced by Lightsource on December 23 and reported by various news agencies.
According to the agreement, the joint venture will study eight potential sites for green hydrogen production in Portugal. Lightsource and Dourogás will install 200MWp of PV generation capacity and 130MW of electrolyzer capacity respectively.
The PV systems installed by Lightsource will power the electrolyzer units installed by Dourogás. The green hydrogen produced by the electrolyzer units will be directly supplied to the Portugal’s gas grid. Dourogás currently provides natural gas to around 30,000 grid clients across 34 municipalities in Portugal.
Monforte, a municipality located in eastern Portugal, has been chosen as the first of the eight sites. The green hydrogen project that will be set up in the municipality has been awarded EUR 5 million (USD 5.6 million) in financial backing from the EU’s Portugal 2020 Fund. This subsidy will support the initial development of the project.
Lightsource also stated that the collaboration with Dourogás will create over “1,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities”.
In addition to this joint venture, Lightsource has around 1.5GW of projects in development in Portugal. From the basis of its partnership with Dourogás, Lightsource plans to build more PV power plants in GW scale in the Iberian Peninsula.
Miguel Lobo, who oversees Lighsource’s operations in Portugal, said that solar PV can be a critical tool in decarbonization because it can be scaled up and deployed quickly to provide the electricity for producing other fuels such as green hydrogen. Lobo also pointed out that the adoption of green hydrogen can immediately reduce carbon footprints of many heavy-duty transportation vehicles as well as many industrial processes. Since hydrogen gas can be burned like a natural gas while creating no CO2 and other pollutants as byproducts, it provides the kinds of heating and power that electricity alone cannot.
Lobo added that this partnership provides inspirations and demonstrates what the energy industry is capable of doing right now instead of imagining scenarios that could happen decades into the future.
Earlier this May, Lightsource announced that it has formed a co-development partnership with Portuguese renewable energy developer INSUN. Specifically, Lightsource has injected EUR 900 million (USD 1.1 billion) into INSUN, and together they will be developing five utility-scale PV projects that have a total generation capacity of 1.3GW. At that time, Lobo also stated that his company is actively probing for opportunities in the field of green hydrogen. The joint venture with Dourogás is Lightsource’s first green hydrogen partnership.
The adoption of renewable energy for powering electrolyzer units is gaining market traction. This May, a consortium comprising Oman’s state-run energy company OQ, US-based green hydrogen developer InterContinental Energy, and Kuwait Investment Authority’s subsidiary Enertech announced a plan to install 25GW of wind and PV generation capacity for powering the production of green hydrogen in Oman’s Al Wusta Governorate. Also, this December, Spanish energy firm Iberdrola and Sweden’s H2 Green Steel announced that they will jointly invest EUR 2.3 billion to set up a 1GW green hydrogen base in the Iberian Peninsula.