Europe bets on hydrogen to fight climate change

Since its earliest global climate debates in the nineties, the EU has been at the forefront of climate action. Recently the commitment has evolved in the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) and in the Paris Agreement, which establish the clear intention to counter climate change.

To keep up with these commitments, the European Commission has set both short and long-term goals: the Clean Energy Package (2016) to obtain, by 2030, a 40% CO2 emissions reduction compared to 1990 and more recently the European Green Deal to become the first continent to reach climate neutrality by 2050.

In this context, in July 2020 a primary role has been established for hydrogen, planning its integration in energy sectors from the actual <2% to 13-14% by 2050, with an electrolysis capacity of 500 GW.

Italy plans for decarbonization

So far Italy has defined its strategy for climate through National Energy Strategy (2017) and Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC, 2019) in accordance with the European Clean Energy Package and the EU Green Deal.

The PNIEC is one of the pillars of the path of Italian decarbonization, its goal is to develop a climate strategy up to 2030 in accordance with the previous European objective to reduce CO2 by 40% by 2030. The plan outlines an important role for hydrogen to reach climate targets and defines its use in various energy sectors such as:

  • Transports, with fuel cell trucks and trains
  • Fuels, with the integration of renewable fuels in transports equal to 1%
  • Electric overgeneration management, with storage applications based on hydrogen, such as power-to-gas

Hydrogen: a double role in the energy transition

Hydrogen holds an unparalleled position to contribute to national climate objectives for a safer and more reliable energy production, especially if it comes from renewable energy sources through electrolysis.

Hydrogen plays a dual role for the country:

  • On the long run, until 2050, it is expected to support the effort of decarbonization together with other low-carbon emission technologies, especially in hard-to-abate sectors such as energy-intensive production processes or aviation
  • On the short-term, until 2030, hydrogen will gradually become competitive in selected applications (such as chemistry, mobility, oil refining), allowing the development of a national hydrogen ecosystem, necessary to fully exploit the potential of hydrogen on the long period.

For the next decade, the Government plans to adopt hydrogen in the field of heavy transports, railways and industry, with specific reference to those segments in which hydrogen is already used as a raw material, such as chemicals and oil refining. In addition to this, the integration of hydrogen in the gas network it can be used to anticipate and stimulate market growth.

The land of Hydrogen Valleys

Hydrogen Valleys are geographical areas – such as a city, region or an industrial cluster – where several hydrogen applications are combined together into an integrated hydrogen ecosystemthat consumes a significant amount of hydrogen, improving the economics behind the project. Ideally, they cover the entire hydrogen value chain: production, storage, distribution and final use.

Many projects are underway all over the country:

  • Northern Italy is close to have its first hydrogen valley based in Valcamonica. The project leverages on the conversion of the non-electrified railway line – now used by diesel-powered trains – to implement trains with hybrid electric-hydrogen traction.
  • Central Italy is expected to greet a R&D Center near Rome. The investments will give birth to the first Italian technology incubator for the development of hydrogen supply chain, in collaboration with universities, research institutes, associations and companies, with the aim of promoting the energy transition and decarbonisation.
  • Thanks to its strategic position in the Mediterranean and already existing connections with North Africa, Southern Italy is set to greet a Hub for hydrogen in Sicily. Strategic documents outline the path to make the island an international reference point for hydrogen research.

BaxEnergy is investing in advanced digital technologies to extend its monitoring platform outside the space of renewable energy to cover monitoring of e-vehicle charging stations, gas turbines, combined cycle power plants, and hydrogen production facilities. Today, BaxEnergy is the only Italian company to boast a reference in the development of an independent monitoring system for hydrogen, providing European utilities with an energy management platform for intelligent market forecast of green hydrogen, applied to different sectors.

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