It is “a project that we are proud of and that the country should be proud of, because it will be, as far as we know, the first energy neutral ETA to supply 3.5 million inhabitants”, stated Pedro Fontes, director of Innovation and Development at EPAL (from the Águas de Portugal - AdP group).
Pedro Fontes spoke to Lusa about the ClorH2O project, which associates the production of hydrogen with the production of reagents consumed in EPAL's operations, namely much-needed chlorine.
Within the framework of the National Hydrogen Strategy, the Government addressed an invitation to Portuguese or European companies or entities, whose proposed projects translate into added value for the country. The AdP group responded, in particular, with the Asseiceira ClorH2O project.
The hydrogen that will be produced can be incorporated into the natural gas network, but it can also be used in the so-called self-consumption in sustainable mobility, replacing the company's vehicles powered by fossil fuels with others powered by hydrogen.
In Asseiceira, near Tomar, in the large but discreet water treatment complex in the Castelo de Bode reservoir (it can treat 625,000 m3 / day), Pedro Fontes begins by explaining: “the hydrogen coproduction project at Asseiceira ETA is born of what our value chain is”. “We are religious consumers of chlorine (300 to 400 tonnes of chlorine gas per year), chlorine poses problems from the point of view of safety and also of carbon emissions, it is an intensive reagent from the point of view of energy associated with its production, and EPAL's option was to eliminate the use of chlorine gas in its operations, producing it locally ”, he adds.
EPAL currently buys chlorine drums in liquid form and stores them in ETA, with the risks that this may entail. Now he wants to produce the chlorine, necessary for disinfection and water treatment, as he needs it, building an electrolyser for this, the same one that will also make hydrogen. This possibility led company officials to think about the best way to valorize hydrogen, a bet by the Government, which, within the scope of the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union (EU), is organizing on the 7th a conference on green hydrogen (produced from renewable energy). This valorization, will be in the decarbonization of the fleet, “maybe in two years”, it will be, maybe sooner, in the production of energy, or it will be in the injection in the natural gas networks, - “there have already been contacts made in that perspective ”- not least because the large gas pipeline that enters Portugal from the south is 300 metres from the ETA.
Whether in cars, in the production of energy, in the injection into energy networks, "the important thing to remember is that there is a possible energy recovery of this hydrogen, whatever it may be". Pedro Fontes believes that hydrogen will be green as " we are currently building a mini hydro that will take advantage of all the available energy from the water that is still treated today at the Asseiceira WTP". In other words, he says, all flows are boosted with a generation power of 1.5 megawatts, complemented by a small photovoltaic park, which will eliminate all the (external) consumption of ETA, of energy, all of the consumption of the Castelo de Goat and all consumption of chlorine and hydrogen production as co-production.