Spain, France and Portugal to create green energy pipeline from Barcelona to Marseille
Leaders of three countries give up on unfinished MidCat project championed by Catalonia
Spain, France and Portugal have pledged to create a green hydrogen pipeline linking Barcelona and Marseille.
The leaders of these three countries, who met in Brussels on Thursday, agreed to move forward with this joint "green energy corridor" replacing the unfinished MidCat pipeline championed by Catalan authorities.
Talking to the press, Spain's PM, Pedro Sánchez, explained the deal in the Belgian capital, which will include the construction of an underwater green hydrogen pipeline to connect the Iberian Peninsula with the European energy market. According to Sánchez, it will also be used to transport gas and electricity during the ongoing energy transition process.
The agreement, the politician explained, meets the three conditions set by himself, Portugal's António Costa, and France's Emmanuel Macron.
"The interconnections have to be in line with the ecological transition; the Iberian Peninsula must be charitable in its response to the need for an alternative source of gas, and the interconnections must be dual," he said, meaning "that they are not only for energy sources such as hydrogen, gas, and renewables, but for electricity interconnections too."
More details of the initiative will be revealed on December 8 and 9 in the Euromed summit in Alicante.
In addition, Sánchez and Costa have also reached an agreement on "the Iberian solution" which will among other points see the two countries "regulate the Iberian electricity storage framework."
This comes after months of disagreements over expanding the MidCat pipeline. It currently ends in the north-central town of Hostalric in the Girona area, an hour north of Barcelona, and while Spanish, Catalan, and German authorities had wanted it to go from Africa all the way through the Iberian peninsula and beyond the Pyrenees to lower Europe's dependence on Russian gas, Macron dashed their hopes by calling the project "nonsense."
Catalonia celebrates deal
Although Catalan authorities had lobbied hard to expand the MidCat pipeline, president Pere Aragonès celebrated news of the "green energy corridor" deal and said he had been informed of negotiations, adding that Catalonia would participate in future discussions on the details of the agreement: "We have a lot to say."
"We view this positively as it makes Catalonia and Barcelona central to the new European energy structure," Aragonès, who was also in Brussels on Thursday to meet with EU Commission for Justice Didier Reynders, said.
Weeks ago, when welcoming the heads of the 48 EU Agencies Network members to an event in Barcelona, the Catalan politician had already expressed Catalonia's commitment to becoming key to bolstering green hydrogen production for the EU.
5 to 7 years to build
In an interview with Catalunya Ràdio a day after the announcement, Spain's ecological transition minister, Teresa Ribera, said the underwater pipeline would take "5 or 6 or 7 years" to build and that construction would "not begin immediately."
The politician argued that it would have been easier to use the already existing MidCat layout for the project, but that this was not possible due to France's opposition.
She also stated that talks with Catalonia about the matter would be key, but that Spain had jurisdiction over the matter, and, like Aragonès, added that she expected the project to receive European funds as it is "of European interested."
Filling the Sink
Learn more about the MidCat project by listening to the Filling the Sink podcast episode from October 8.