While trying to figure out how to put two green hydrogen plants in the Northeast region by 2025, Qair — a French independent power generation company — is expected to start the construction of a 440 MW solar farm, with an estimated investment of R$1.9 billion, in Icó, Ceará.
Gustavo Silva, the head of operations in Brazil said that the funds will come from local banks. The operation is expected to start by the end of 2023, with most of the power being destined for commercialization in the free market.
Qair has been operating in Brazil since 2017. It has already invested R$2.7 billion in four 600 MW wind and solar power projects in Ceará and Rio Grande do Norte. With this new investment, the company will total 1 GW of capacity in the country.
The company has been studying wind and solar farm projects to produce electricity to supply two green hydrogen plants. One would be located near the Port of Suape, Pernambuco, while the other is likely to be installed around the Port of Pecém, Ceará.
Each plant will require an estimated investment of $3.8 billion and an installed capacity of 8 GW of clean energy (wind and solar) to be supplied. This means, in practice, investments at about $12 billion.
From the technical point of view, the installation of green hydrogen plants is possible, but the financial equation will only be solved when “demand really grows.” In practice, the sector awaits the start of green hydrogen auctions in Europe, scheduled for 2025, an event that is expected to mark the opening of the zero-carbon fuel market. “Today we don’t have a price, because no one is willing to pay for green hydrogen, but there is a high expectation for 2025 and 2030,” the executive said.
One of the main sources for replacing fossil fuels in the energy transition, green hydrogen is produced from a process known as water electrolysis. Although the technology is already mastered, Qair is still seeking to perfect the processes. To this end, the company will begin a production test through a partnership with an autonomous ship, which will work as a laboratory for the next three years. The vessel, called Energy Observer, is the first ship powered by green hydrogen in the world and has been testing the technology with seawater in several wind and sun conditions worldwide since 2017.
Qair was one of the first companies to start studies for green hydrogen production in Brazil, in May last year, in Pernambuco and Ceará. Other multinationals have also signed letters of intent for investment with state governments. In Ceará alone, there were 15 companies — among them White Martins, Fortescue, Neoenergia, AES and Engie.
If all the projects prove to be economically viable, there would be around R$100 billion in investments in Ceará alone in the next 20 years, an unprecedent amount of investments in the state.
Earlier this month, the Ceará government unveiled the first resolution for environmental permit of green hydrogen plants. A working group has been set up to improve the resolution, which details criteria and parameters for obtaining authorizations by investors.
Source: Valor International