Energy and Utilities

The Andalusian Regional Government publishes a Guide for the processing of hydrogen installations

Published on 1st Mar 2024

The Guide aims to clarify the current regulations on hydrogen installations and their processing, as well as to identify the areas that still need to be developed

The Regional Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines of the Regional Government of Andalusia has published the Guide for the processing of hydrogen installations in Andalusia (the "Guide") with the aim of clarifying those aspects of hydrogen installations covered by the applicable regulations in that region, as well as to point out those aspects that are still pending regulatory development.

With regard to the content of the Guide, it should be noted firstly that the Guide includes a summary of the content of the Commission Delegated Regulations (EU) 2023/1184 and 2023/1185 of 10 February 2023, supplementing Directive (EU) 2018/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council (European Delegated Acts), on the requirements to be met by hydrogen in order to be considered renewable in the European Union.

Secondly, a description is given of the different typologies of:

  1. Electricity generation installations used in hydrogen production, differentiating between on-site renewable generation and grid-connected installations;
  2. Hydrogen distribution to final consumers: injection of hydrogen into the gas grid, into isolated hydrogen pipelines, injection into future hydrogen distribution and transport grids and by road;
  3. End uses of hydrogen include transport and mobility consumption, industrial consumption, residential consumption, synthetic fuel production and stationary power generation applications.

Thirdly, it describes the procedures to be followed for the development of the different installations and activities related to hydrogen projects, from different regulatory perspectives, which will be detailed below.

Renewable electricity generation

From the substantive point of view, generation installations require the issuance by the competent body of Previous Administrative Authorisation, Construction Administrative Authorisation and Operating Authorisation. This competent body will be the autonomous community with competence in energy matters of the Autonomous Community in which the installation is located, in the event that its installed power is equal to or less than 50 MW and the installation is limited to a single Region, or the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge in other cases.

Notwithstanding the above, it is noted that those installations that are not connected to the electricity grid (i.e. isolated installations) will fall under the competence of the Autonomous Community, irrespective of their power. In Andalusia, these installations are commissioned through the PUES application and do not require substantive authorisation.

On the other hand, hydrogen production installations that have a renewable electricity supply in their vicinity and are also connected to the grid will be considered as self-consumption installations and, as such, must be processed in accordance with the provisions of the Manual for the administrative processing of self-consumption installations in Andalusia (at the time of writing, the latest version corresponds to October 2023 and is available at "Manual de autoconsumo de Andalucía").

From a town planning perspective, renewable electricity generation installations are considered ordinary actions on rural land, in accordance with Andalusian Law 7/2021, of 1 December, on the promotion of territorial sustainability in Andalusia (LISTA) and its implementing regulations, Decree 550/2022, of 29 November, which approves the General Regulations of the LISTA. In this sense, it will not be necessary to obtain authorisation prior to the planning permission that qualifies the land, unless the intended action has an impact on land planning, in which case a mandatory and binding report will be required from the Regional Ministry of Development, Land Development and Housing of the Regional Government of Andalusia.

Connection to the electricity grid

It is noted in the Guide that hydrogen production installations that connect to the electricity grid act as a consumer and therefore their connection (whether new or extension of an existing one) will be processed in a similar way to connections through the following generic steps, which may vary and be adjusted depending on whether the electricity grid is transmission or distribution, depending on the access capacity requested, etc.:

  1. Request for access and connection to the grid based on available access capacity.
  2. Deposit of the economic guarantee of access and connection of €40/kV both for electricity generation (if you are a producer) and for consumption, if the installation is connected to a voltage higher than 36 kV.
  3. The grid operator carries out a feasibility study in which it assesses the available capacity and analyses the technical and economic viability of the requested connection.
  4. The system operator issues a technical and economical offer for the connection.
  5. The applicant for connection shall accept the offer of the grid operator by signing an access and connection contract with the grid operator.
  6. The relevant works will be carried out for the connection of the installation.
  7. The system operator will carry out a final inspection to verify that the connection has been carried out correctly and the installation will be commissioned.

Public utility declaration

In accordance with Article 54 of Law 24/2013, of 26 December, on the Electricity Sector, electricity generation, transmission and distribution installations are declared to be of public utility for the purposes of compulsory expropriation and the imposition of right-of-way easements.

However, neither direct lines between a production installation and a consumption point, nor consumption lines that do not belong to the distribution grid are declared to be of public utility.

Water rights in hydrogen production installations

In order to supply water to hydrogen production installations, it is necessary to obtain a water concession from the relevant water basin organisation, the processing of which is provided for in articles 59 and following of Royal Legislative Decree 1/2001, of 20 July, approving the revised text of the Water Law (Although the Guide does not indicate this, the installation may also receive the required water from the springs or groundwater that flow through the plot on which the installation is located, with a maximum annual volume of 7,000 cubic metres, and with the specific limitations established in the regulations of the public water domain), (i) through an authorisation for the use of regenerated water or (ii) through a supply contract with the supply company.7,000 cubic metres per year, and with the specific limitations established in the regulations on the public water domain, (ii) through an authorisation for the use of reclaimed water or (ii) through a supply contract with the drinking water company of the town in which the installation is located).

In addition to the above, if it is necessary to carry out works in the public water domain, these must also be authorised.

Hydrogen production installations: the electrolysers

In accordance with Law 34/1998 of 7 October 1998 on the hydrocarbons sector (the "Hydrocarbons Law"), this type of installation does not require administrative authorisation from a substantive point of view.

  • From an environmental perspective, in accordance with section i) of group 6 of Annex II of Law 21/2013, of 9 December, on environmental assessment, electrolysers are subject to a simplified environmental assessment procedure and, therefore, in Andalusia they need to obtain Integrated Environmental Authorisation with simplified Environmental Impact Assessment.
  • From the urban planning perspective, this type of installation is considered a chemical industry and, therefore, must be located either on industrial land or on rural land as extraordinary actions, requiring in the latter case an authorisation prior to the municipal licence, to be issued by the City Council, which qualifies the land where the project is to be installed. The processing of this authorisation is set out in article 32 of the LISTA development regulations. It should be borne in mind that when the installation has a supralocal impact, a binding report must be obtained from the competent Regional Ministry for regional planning, in accordance with article 71 of the aforementioned regulation.
  • From a technical and risk control perspective, the Standard UNE-ISO 22734:2019 Hydrogen generators using the water electrolysis process will be applicable, as well as, in the event that the hydrogen is stored in a quantity greater than 5 tonnes, the Royal Decree 840/2015, of 21 September, approving measures to control the risks inherent to major accidents involving dangerous substances.
  • From the perspective of the municipal licences required for the development and implementation of electrolysers, it will be necessary to obtain a works licence from the competent City Councils, as well as an activity licence.
  • From the perspective of commissioning in terms of industrial safety regulations, both Royal Decree 337/2014, of 9 May, which approves the Regulation on technical conditions and safety guarantees in high voltage electrical installations and its Complementary Technical Instructions ITC-RAT 01 to 23, and Royal Decree 842/2002, of 2 August, which approves the electrotechnical regulations for low voltage, depending on whether the voltage of the electrolyser is higher or lower than 1000V, may be applicable. In addition, the procedure for communicating the start-up of pressure equipment or the procedure for communicating fire protection shall be applicable.
  • Finally, in relation to the public domain affected by these installations, the corresponding authorisations or concessions will have to be obtained from the Administrations owning this public domain.

Injection of hydrogen into the gas grid

Hydrogen can be injected into the natural gas grid through direct lines owned by the hydrogen producer, connecting the hydrogen production installation to the connection point of the gas grid.

These lines are subject to substantive authorisation in the event that they fall within the competence of the State. However, the Guide indicates that in the event that they fall within the competence of the Andalusian Autonomous Community, administrative authorisation will not be necessary, requiring only the documentation established by regulation for their entry into service, which is currently pending regulation.

It should also be noted that the direct lines are declared to be of public utility for the purposes of compulsory expropriation and the exercise of rights of way.

On the other hand, it should be noted that if the connection of direct lines to the gas grid requires modifications to the gas grid, authorisation from the competent regional or state body (depending on who authorised the original installation) will be required. In the event that these modifications do not require a specific declaration of public utility, they must obtain Administrative Authorisation for Operation, but not Previous Administrative Authorisation or Administrative Authorisation for Construction.

Isolated and ancillary piping and installations

These are hydrogen pipelines that directly connect a hydrogen production point to a point of consumption.

They are declared to be of public utility for the purposes of expropriation and the exercise of rights of way and, as with direct lines, it is indicated in the Guide that the Hydrocarbons Law does not necessarily require the need to obtain administrative authorisation, but that each Autonomous Community will be able to determine whether this is required or not.

Hydrogen storage

Hydrogen storage can take place both at the hydrogen production site and at the hydrogen distribution site.

As regards storage at the place where the hydrogen is produced, the Guide indicates that although the applicable regulations are contained in various industrial safety regulations, it will probably be necessary to approve a specific Technical Instruction dedicated to the storage of gaseous hydrogen in fixed tanks, given that this type of storage is not covered by the regulations in force.

Likewise, it will be necessary for this Technical Instruction to contemplate certain characteristics of hydrogen, such as its leakage capacity or flammability.

In relation to storage at the place of distribution, this can be (i) through vehicle refuelling stations, or (ii) at the place of consumption. With regard to the first modality, the Technical Regulation on the Distribution and Use of Gaseous Fuels and its ITC-ICG 05 are applicable. With regard to the second modality, if it is carried out in commercial establishments, the Regulation on the Storage of Chemical Products and the Regulation on Pressure Equipment will apply, while if it is carried out in residential or tertiary use (the use of fuel cells to cover part of the electricity or air conditioning demand), there are currently no specific regulations.

Hydrogen transport

If the transport is carried out by road, the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) applies. At state level, Royal Decree 552/2019 of 27 September on the transport of dangerous goods by road and Royal Decree 97/2014 of 14 February regulating the transport of dangerous goods by road in Spanish territory apply.

In the case of transport by rail, the International Regulations for the Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail must be applied.

Finally, maritime transport is regulated by Royal Decree 145/1989 of 20 January 1989, approving the National Regulations on the Admission, Handling and Storage of Dangerous Goods in Ports, the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, the Amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied Gases in Bulk.

If you would like to know more about hydrogen project development in Andalusia or elsewhere in Spain, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experts listed below or your usual contact at Osborne Clarke.


* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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