Extremadura New Energies (ENE) and Enalter — a consortium of Alter Enersun and Enagás Renovable, the latter Enagás subsidiary — have reached a cooperation agreement to boost various renewable energy projects in the Cáceres region, including the development of a 350 MW photovoltaic project and the commissioning of a renewable hydrogen and methane production plant with a maximum capacity of 180 MW.
These facilities, pioneers in Spain, would supply the energy needs of the lithium processing plant developed by ENE in the Cáceres region. Under the terms of the cooperation agreement, a company would be created to manage both the photovoltaic project and the renewable hydrogen and methane plants.
This company, in which ENE and Enalter would have ownership interests, would be headquartered and have its tax domicile in Cáceres. It is estimated that 600 jobs would be created in the construction phase and more than 50 jobs in the long term.
According to the cooperation agreement, studies will be carried out in the first development phase to design, evaluate and determine the technical and economic feasibility of the project, identifying and evaluating the most suitable sites in the municipality of Cáceres and its neighbouring municipalities. An application will then be submitted for the administrative processing of the project in order to be able to start construction in 2025.
In a second phase, the photovoltaic solar plant and the renewable hydrogen and methane production plants will be commissioned, starting in 2026, with an initial useful life of more than 25 years.
Decarbonisation and local development
This project’s integral development will help prevent the emission of more than 300,000 tonnes of CO2 per year into the atmosphere. It will contribute to decarbonisation of industrial processes and the development of sustainable lithium mining by supplying renewable energy generated to the planned Extremadura New Energies lithium processing plant.
The project is in line with the decarbonisation targets of the European Union’s RePowerEU Plan and the Spanish Roadmap for Renewable Hydrogen. This project also represents a new opportunity to promote social and economic development in Extremadura by creating quality jobs and strengthening the industrial structure in conjunction with the commitment to the energy transition.
The main activity of Extremadura New Energies, a company with headquarters and tax domicile in Cáceres, is the development of an integrated industrial project for the production of lithium hydroxide in Cáceres. This is a unique plant in Europe that will contribute to the energy independence of both Spain and the European Union, as a whole.
Enalter’s objective is to promote, build, operate and maintain facilities for the production of green hydrogen and renewable electricity in order to decarbonise industrial activity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Ramón Jiménez, CEO of Extremadura New Energies, noted that the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding represents “another step forward” in the development of ENE’s integrated industrial project. With these plants, “we are fulfilling our commitment to develop a project with the highest standards of environmental sustainability, including the use of green hydrogen, the use of renewable energies and the capture of CO2 to avoid possible emissions of greenhouse gases.”
José Luis Morlanes, CEO of Alter Enersun, explained that “Alter Enersun’s goal is to offer renewable solutions to decarbonise industrial activities and, in this case, to help the lithium hydroxide plant become greenhouse gas neutral.”
Antón Martínez, the CEO of Enagás Renovable, stated that “collaboration between businesses is crucial to effectively channel and optimise investment capability and create a hydrogen ecosystem linked to renewable energy sources.” This MoU underlines Enagás Renovable’s commitment to the promotion of renewable gases, decarbonisation and the energy transition.
The production of renewable hydrogen is mainly achieved through the electrolysis of water. In this process, hydrogen is separated from oxygen, using renewable electricity.
The process is entirely powered by renewable energy, meaning no pollutants are emitted into the atmosphere. This makes it the cleanest and most sustainable hydrogen production process available.
Green hydrogen is a key sustainable solution for decarbonising the economy and supporting climate neutrality by 2050, in line with the European Green Deal.
Renewable hydrogen is set to be a valuable energy carrier for end-uses where it is the most efficient solution in the decarbonisation process, such as hydrogen-intensive industry and high-temperature processes, long-distance heavy transport, shipping, rail transport or aviation. It also has great potential as an energy carrier for energy storage and sectoral integration.
Green methane or synthetic methane is produced by combining renewable hydrogen and CO2 captured from industrial processes in a chemical process called methanation.
A key point is that the CO2 emissions from the combustion of synthetic methane are offset by the CO2 captured and recovered from industrial processes (which in this project is produced during lithium processing), making the project 100% renewable.