The European Investment Bank (EIB) has expressed willingness to finance a prospective hydrogen pipeline connecting Portugal to Spain and France if the project meets the eligibility criteria, EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix said during an interview with Lusa, adding that the bank had already launched exploratory talks with Portugal.
Felix said the EU bank was available and willing to look at the hydrogen pipeline project, as well as other projects of similar nature and understand if the project meets the eligibility criteria, such as transporting 100% gas with low carbon, especially 'green' hydrogen.
"We have an energy financing policy that is very clear, and the EIB does not finance […] any technology based on fossil fuels, [but] the EIB does finance everything concerning transport corridors, whether they are electricity or low carbon gases and that will be the gases and forms of energy of the future," he explained.
While the EIB is currently unsure about the project's characteristics, Félix noted that it is technically possible to combine gases with low carbon content with those of fossil origin. He mentioned that there have already been exploratory contacts, including with the government of Portugal. Félix expressed his willingness to examine the project further once it meets the eligibility criteria for funding.
In October 2020, the governments of Portugal, France, and Spain agreed to replace the existing MidCat project with two new projects, namely BarMar and CeIZa. BarMar is a 'green hydrogen' maritime pipeline from Barcelona to Marseille, while CeIZa is a renewable gas interconnection between Spain and Portugal.
With the aim of the new infrastructure being to facilitate the distribution of 'green' hydrogen and other renewable gases, starting with a limited proportion of natural gas as a transitional source of energy, the EIB Vice President emphasized the importance of making sure that a future energy corridor could transport "green" hydrogen, even if in the short term it would need to transport a mixture of gases.
Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa hopes that EU funds will fully finance the project through the Interconnecting Europe Facility. Therefore, it is expected that the project will be considered a “project of common interest” and benefit from accelerated licensing and financing procedures.