The Uruguayan government has kicked off its first green hydrogen pilot, ‘H2U’, which is initially focused on the transport sector but can be expanded to other projects, H2 Bulletin reports.
Uruguay aims to starts with local decarbonisation using its available resources and then move towards exports. The green hydrogen pilot project is considered the first step towards making Uruguay take a leading role in the global hydrogen market. The country has been working towards establishing its hydrogen roadmap to help the county become a producer and exporter of green hydrogen. The government will also incorporate the learning from the pilot project in the preparation of its national hydrogen roadmap.
The pilot project was launched on 8th April through a virtual programme attended by over 650 participants from 30 countries, where attendees included several ministries, private and public companies. The virtual program was organised by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining (MIEM), the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), Ancap and UTE.
Given that 4% of vehicles are responsible for 36% of carbon emissions in the country transport sector, the H2U pilot project is initially focusing on the transport sector, although it is open to companies interested in other sectors, including the production of ammonia or green fertilisers.
H2U business model will be completely private, and companies will provide a vehicle fleet of buses and trucks to consumers and fulfil their energy demand. The aim is for a fleet of at least ten buses of nine meters long or trucks of 17 tonnes, with the fleet’s minimum travel distance around 3,500 km/day. The private companies will have to install their plant but can be offered using Ancap’s facilities at the Capurro plant.
The project will provide first-hand information to the interested parties who want to get involved in the green hydrogen project, focusing on the transportation sector. Next week, interested companies can discuss the technical aspects with the officials for further details, which would be followed by an open and competitive bidding process for the final selection.
The Minister of Industry, Energy and Mining, Omar Paganini, told the attendees that Uruguay has the potential to become a producer and exporter of green hydrogen owing to its abundant wind and solar energy. Its proximity to both Asia and Europe is also significant from the strategic-logistical aspect in helping exports to these key regions. A recent study prepared by MIEM and the port of Rotterdam shows that the country can become competitive internationally.
Uruguay is one of the four countries that will receive funding from the United Nations Joint Fund for the SDGs. The country proposal was selected from 155 submissions by more than 100 countries. The total non-refundable financing is US$ 10 million, which will be used on a range of initiatives, including electric mobility, industrial decarbonisation or the development of hydrogen technology.
Alejandro Stipanicic, the president of state oil company Ancap, said that Ancap already produces hydrogen at its refinery and can replace some diesel with hydrogen in the transport sector. The company has significant expertise in complex industrial facilities, and that it has free and scalable spaces, both on the La Teja refinery site and at the Capurro plant, which were already used in the small-scale hydrogen project.