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European Investment Bank may finance Iberian gas pipeline

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The European Investment Bank (EIB) is willing to finance the future green hydrogen pipeline connecting Portugal, Spain and France if it meets eligibility criteria,  EIB Vice-President Ricardo Mourinho Félix told Lusa in an interview, noting that the bank has launched exploratory talks with Portugal.

The EU bank is “obviously available and wants to look at this project or other projects of a similar nature and understand if this project is likely to be framed in what are the eligibilities, i.e., if it is a transport project that can reach 100% of gases with low carbon content, in particular hydrogen ‘green’, and if it is a credible project in that dimension”,  Félix said in the interview.

“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.

Despite pointing out that the EIB does not yet know “the characteristics of the project”, Félix stressed that it was important that this future energy corridor “can be used and is ready to transport […] ‘green’ hydrogen, even if in the very short term it can transport a mixture”.

“It is possible, from a technical point of view, to have combinations of gases with low carbon content with gases still of fossil origin and, therefore, in the very short term when there is not yet the supply of ‘green’ hydrogen that will be needed, we can look at this project, provided it meets what are the eligibility criteria of the project,” he added.

At the same time, there “are already exploratory contacts”, namely with Portugal.

“I have spoken to some members of the government about this issue, saying that we are always available and, therefore, when they consider that the project is sufficiently mature at the political level, we can start looking at this project and also understand how we can think of a project that has the necessary characteristics to be funded,” he told Lusa.

The governments of Portugal, France and Spain reached an agreement in Brussels at the end of October to speed up interconnections on the Iberian Peninsula, agreeing to drop the existing MidCat project and instead agreeing to BarMar, a ‘green hydrogen’ maritime pipeline set to span from Barcelona to Marseille, and to CeIZa, a renewable gas interconnection between Spain and Portugal.

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has acknowledged that he hopes that this new project can be fully financed by EU funds through the Interconnecting Europe Facility  – meaning it should be considered as a project of common interest and thus benefit from accelerated licensing and financing procedures.

The idea is that the new infrastructure on the Iberian Peninsula will allow for the distribution of ‘green’ hydrogen and other renewable gases, and in an initial phase will be intended for a limited proportion of natural gas as a temporary and transitional source of energy.

Former assistant secretary of state for finance, Ricardo Mourinho Félix, was appointed EIB vice president in October 2020.

Source : Euractiv