Ten companies from a wide range of sectors and countries placed bids in Chile’s $50m national green hydrogen tender — the world’s first — highlighting the global interest in producing the zero-carbon gas at scale and at a low cost.

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Those submitting bids for up to $30m of project financing before the closure of the tender last week include utilities Enel and Engie, from Italy and France, respectively; industrial gas giants Linde and Air Liquide, from Ireland and France; Danish offshore wind developer and investor Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP); local steel producer and iron-one miner CAP, and Chilean LNG terminal GNL Quintero.

Each bid had to be for projects of at least 10MW that would be 100% powered by renewable energy and come into operation by the end of 2025.

Chile’s national economic development agency, Corfo, which held the tender, said the average project size was “around an average of 20MW”. The world’s largest green-hydrogen plant currently in operation is Air Liquide’s 20MW Bécancour plant in Quebec, Canada.

The ten proposed projects stretch from the sunny, desert regions of Antofagasta and Atacama in the northern Chile to the windswept, barren southern provinces of Aysén and Magallanes.

Chile has long been thought to be an ideal location for green hydrogen production because the price of power is the biggest contributor to the cost of splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen — and the country has among the cheapest wind and solar power in the world, due to the strength and consistency of its sunshine and winds.

Corfo will now evaluate the bids and determine which project will receive financial support — and how much — “in the coming months”.

“We are in a global race to attract the first customers, and that is why this call is so relevant and positions Chile as a vanguard country,” said Corfo executive vice-president Pablo Terrazas.

“We have to consider that Chile, thanks to its advantages in the generation of renewable energies, with the highest solar radiation in the world and an excellent wind resource, is one of the countries that stands out for its potential to produce and export green hydrogen on a global level, which will reduce costs, as happened with the photovoltaic industry.”

The other three bidders in the tender were Chilean power generator Imelsa Energia, French 24/7 renewable-energy developer Hydrogène de France and local investment firm Sociedad de Inversiones Albatros.