The H2LAC 2021 Hydrogen Congress for Latin America and the Caribbean was held, co-organized by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and newenergy. In this framework, the first Hydrogen Market Index for Latin America and the Caribbean was presented, which analyzed more than 20 countries in their promotion of green or sustainable Hydrogen.
Is hydrogen a game changer for Latin America and the Caribbean?
With that question, the congress began and the words of the President of the IDB, Mauricio Claver-Carone, set the stage for the two-day conversation of the first Hydrogen Congress for Latin America and the Caribbean H2LAC 2021.
“Green Hydrogen has the potential to change the energy game and for Latin America it is a great opportunity to meet its goals of decarbonization of the economy,” said Claver-Carone, highlighting countries such as Uruguay and Costa Rica that produce a large amount of clean energy and have the opportunity to export energy through hydrogen.
The first day was highlighted by the launch of the first Hydrogen Market Index for Latin America and the Caribbean, designed by Hinicio and New Energy. “Together, the Index provides an analysis of the regional development stage and the opportunities and obstacles faced by both the public and private sectors in Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of green hydrogen.”
The following analysis variables were analyzed:
– Legislation, public incentives and frameworks to promote green hydrogen
– Ecosystem at the national level from organizations, companies, pilot projects
– Projects in operation or in advanced development stage
– Green Hydrogen Powered Mobility Adoption
– International cooperation and negotiation agreements
Costa Rica in the forefront
Among its results, stands out that Costa Rica, Chile and Brazil are the most advanced group in the promotion of green hydrogen. Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay are the second group. Likewise, 33 advanced projects were identified, of which 11 are industrial projects.
In terms of regulations, Chile and Brazil have many advances in regulations and also public-private initiatives. Chile is also the first country to publish a hydrogen roadmap, followed shortly by Colombia, which announced its strategy during the congress. On the other hand, countries like Peru, Colombia, Chile, Argentina have green hydrogen promoting associations. In terms of clean mobility or mobility powered by green hydrogen, only Costa Rica and Brazil have fleets with these characteristics.
The advance of Latin America
In the Panel, What is the opportunity for Latin America to generate green hydrogen to export to Europe or Asia? Energy ministers from Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay participated.
The panel was initiated by Bento Albuquerque Minister of Mining and Energy of Brazil, highlighting the role of his country in the consolidation of policies to promote clean energy to fuel green hydrogen, such as the National Green Hydrogen Plan.
“33% of the electricity matrix in Brazil is renewable and that is why we have an opportunity to use hydrogen as a competitive differential. Since 2002, research on the subject has been carried out in the Itaipu park, the first experimental hydrogen plant,” was stated.
Next, Andrea Meza Murillo, Costa Rica’s minister of environment and energy, highlighted that the country takes Green Hydrogen as a means to reach its net decarbonization goal for 2050. Costa Rica took its first steps in 2011, when the company Ad Astra Rocket and the state-owned Costa Rican Petroleum Refinery (RECOPE) created a hydrogen experimental center. Meza highlighted that the latest milestone for the Costa Rican Hydrogen Alliance, a group of mostly private companies that represent all the actors present in the green hydrogen value chain.
Finally, Omar Paganini Herrera, Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining of Uruguay, spoke of green hydrogen as the second “energy transformation” of Uruguay. “In 2010 we started the first transformation with renewable energies and today 90% of our electricity is clean. We have the second penetration of wind energy after Denmark. Now hydrogen is coming and we want to be export leaders
The country has a Hydrogen Promotion Law, enacted in 2006 but not yet regulated. The norm establishes the creation of the National Hydrogen Development Fund (Fonhidro), which would be financed by the State, and hydrogen projects would have numerous tax benefits.
The role of the oil sector
Hydrogen is used as an input in the refining of petroleum, the production of ammonia and methanol, and the manufacture of steel, with a demand of 70 million tons per year. During the congress, the panel was presented that began with the question: Is hydrogen production, whether green or blue, the future of the oil and gas industry in Latin America?
Yeimy Baez Moreno, Vice President of Gas at ECOPETROL in Colombia, highlighted the role of Ecopetrol as the first Latin American State Oil Company with zero emissions commitments by 2050. He indicated that the development of the Green Hydrogen industry will be key to meeting this goal. “Today we already capture 30% of CO2 in the gray hydrogen production process that is aimed at the food industry. But we need to move further and for this a roadmap is key. That is why we participate in the government initiative to achieve the Colombia leaf ”.
On the other hand, Miguel Angel Garcia Carreño, from Repsol Venture in Spain, highlighted that the greatest opportunity is in green hydrogen as a raw material for the oil and gas industry. “Today gray hydrogen is more competitive than renewable hydrogen, in price, but this will change in a short time.”