Cepsa and Maersk-backed C2X to develop largest green methanol plant in Europe

Maersk-backed methanol developing and producing company C2X has teamed up with Spanish energy giant Cepsa to develop a green methanol plant in the port of Huelva, southern Spain.

Image credit: CEPSA

The project aims to reach an estimated annual production capacity of 300,000 tons of green methanol, which Cepsa calculates would prevent the emission of up to 1 million tons of CO2. The company would become one of the five largest green methanol plants in the world, according to its developers.

The plant would have the capacity to reach a maximum production of 380,000 tons. A final investment decision for this project, which would entail an investment of up to €1 billion, is expected to be made in 2025.

If approved, the project has the opportunity to create 2,500 direct and indirect jobs, further supporting the Andalusian Green Hydrogen Valley being developed by Cepsa and its partners with an ambition to reach a green hydrogen production capacity of 2GW by 2030. Some of the green hydrogen produced is expected to supply the new green methanol facility.

Estimates indicate that by 2050 the demand for methanol could triple to some 300 million tons per annum, with the majority being for green methanol.

The project places Andalusia as one of the most competitive locations globally for the production and transportation of green molecules thanks to its renewable electricity capacity and industrial and port infrastructure.

The project was presented at COP28 in Dubai with the participation of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez; Spanish Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, Teresa Ribera; Brian Davis, CEO C2X; and Maarten Wetselaar, CEO Cepsa.

“This project will not only represent a significant reduction of CO2 emissions. Green methanol will also allow us to advance in the decarbonization of hard-to-abate sectors, such as shipping or the chemical industry,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said.

“In other words, this is a significant step towards a future free of fossil fuels. This investment is fully aligned with Spain’s strategy of reindustrialization and energy transition. We want that 81% of our power generation come from renewable sources by 2030. Green hydrogen will play a crucial role and, thanks to projects like this, Spain stands as a global reference.”

“This partnership is another milestone in our strategy to make Spain a European hub for green molecules this decade, with viable projects to reduce emissions in sectors that are difficult and urgent to decarbonize. We will work with the Spanish government to develop the regulatory framework needed for this project to be successful and scalable,” Cepsa CEO Maarten Wetselaar said.

“We see a growing demand for green methanol to help industries like shipping, aviation and chemicals move away from fossil-carbon based alternatives. While this project has strong fundamentals it will need an enabling framework in order to offer a competitive source of green methanol to its target customers. We look forward to working with Cepsa and the Spanish government as we develop the project,” C2X CEO Brian Davis said.

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The partnership between Cepsa and C2X follows a protocol of collaboration agreed between A.P. Moller – Maersk and the government of Spain in November 2022 to explore the possibilities of producing green fuels in the country. This partnership is also in line with the declarations made at governmental level by Spain and Denmark to increase their bilateral cooperation in green energy transition