Spain raises bet on green hydrogen, biogas in draft plan

(Reuters) - Spain will double its 2030 biogas production target and almost triple its green hydrogen goal as part of a broad upgrade of its energy and climate ambitions, a draft of the government's strategy showed on Wednesday.

The new climate plan includes higher targets for solar and wind power capacity as well as energy storage and other initiatives.

Energy is a hotly debated topic in Spain ahead of national elections next month, with the front-runner, the opposition People's Party (PP), pushing to reverse a planned phase out of Spain's nuclear power plants.

The draft climate strategy sets a 2030 target of 11 gigawatts (GW) for electrolyzers, which would be used to make green hydrogen, up from the previous 4 GW. It also plans to double the target for biogas production to 20 terawatt hours (TWh).

The new plan also increases targets for wind generation capacity to 62 GW, from 50 GW, photovoltaic solar generation capacity to around 76 GW, and power storage capacity to 22 GW.

Overall, renewables would generate 81% of the country's electricity by 2030, according to the text.

The mix of measures will allow the country to cut emissions of climate-warming gases by 32% from 1990 levels, in line with an earlier Reuters report. The previous target was 23%.

The draft "takes new steps in the right direction in the fight against the climate emergency but it still falls short" when it comes to emission reduction, said Pedro Zorrilla, chief of Greenpeace Spain's climate change campaign, adding that the objective should be to reduce emissions by at least 55%.

The plan will catalyze investments of roughly $322 B, the text says. Of this, 85% is expected to come from the private sector, with the remainder coming from public funds, including from the European Union.

Such estimates shows that Spain has become "an enormously attractive and trustworthy country," Energy Minister Teresa Ribera said on Wednesday in a dialogue with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

The plan confirms the phase out of nuclear energy and speeds up Spain's exit from coal, now set for 2025, from 2030 previously.

Sanchez and Ribera took a swipe at the opposition PP party's push to extend the life of the country's nuclear power plants, saying the party hadn't explained who is going to foot the bill.

"Who would pay for it? The citizen directly or the state, that is, the citizen again, indirectly," Sanchez said on Wednesday, while the energy minister warned that keeping the reactors on "isn't economically viable".

The draft says the plan will add more than half a million new jobs and boost the economy by 2.5% by the end of the decade.

Spain, like other European countries, faced an end-of-June deadline to submit an updated draft proposal to the European Commission.

The publication of the draft kicks off a public consultation, which will last until Sept. 4. The final plan is due by June next year.

The PP was not immediately available for comment.

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