Sicily as a Hydrogen Hub

Technology empowers the potential of hydrogen

Several studies in the energy sector have highlighted how the current energy system, based mainly on the production of energy from fossil fuels, is no longer sustainable from an environmental point of view. The development of carbon-free energy policies is now widely supported both at a European and global level. The goal is to encourage and guide the political framework for the transition from the current energy system to a decarbonized economy.

Hydrogen is considered a strategic energy vector for the future energy transition due to its versatility and its potential to be integrated with renewable sources and other sustainable technologies for the production and use of energy.

The increase in production from renewable sources (of which about 60% comes wind and solar) in the near future will count about 55% on final electricity consumption by 2030. As a consequence, it will be necessary to implement management models of electricity grids capable of coordinating the misalignment between demands and production of renewable electricity.

Based on the policies developed globally to support the energy transition, hydrogen is expected to represent, under favorable conditions, 24% of final energy demand. Consequently, the demand for hydrogen will grow rapidly in the near future and will constitute an important opportunity for industrial development and sustainable mobility.

Sicily will be the bridge between North Africa and Europe

According to recent analysis carried out by SNAM with the support of McKinsey, in a decarbonization scenario of 95% by 2050, hydrogen could supply about 23% of all energy demand in Italy (transport, building heating, industrial applications). This study shows that Italy, thanks to the widespread presence of renewable energy and a capillary network for the transport of gas, represents a particularly attractive market for the development of hydrogen. Particularly, the analysis focuses on the Region of Sicily, identified as a possible energy bridgebetween North Africa and Italy.

Sicily boasts the presence of one of the few energy platforms based on hydrogen technologies in the national field. A photovoltaic system and a battery energy storage system, able to compensate for the intermittency of the solar source, contribute to the production of green hydrogen through electrolysis for the refueling of fuel cell vehicles (minibuses and pedal assisted bikes). This experimentation site has a significant potential for integration and expansion aimed at the creation of a Hydrogen Valley.

The role of Sicily in the energy transition towards H2

Sicily can play a leading role in the development of renewable sources in Italy and in Europe, considering the availability of natural resources all over the region. The presence of renewable energy resources and the simultaneous decrease in the cost of electrolysers are two of the factors which will contribute to make green hydrogen reach competitive costs before other countries.

The island geographical and structural characteristics may facilitate an energy transition towards decarbonization by exploiting hydrogen as an energy vector. The main reasons can be summarized in:

• Wide availability of renewable sources such as wind and solar energy. Considering the strong attainability of these sources, green hydrogen is expected to reach the same cost as hydrogen produced from fossil sources 5-10 years earlier than other countries. This would allow the large-scale use of electrolysis and the development of new technologies related to it.

• Energy economy strongly focused on the use of natural gas in the civil and industrial sector which can favor a gradual introduction of hydrogen as an energy vector. In addition, there is a strong presence of vehicles powered by natural gas so that a synergy with hydrogen can be achieved for progressive decarbonization.

• Presence of natural gas infrastructures and geographical predisposition for interconnectionbetween Europe and the Mediterranean areas such as North Africa. By exploiting the existing gas networks, hydrogen can be mixed with natural gas to facilitate the inclusion of hydrogen as an energy carrier. In addition, the good connection of the gas networks between the south and the north of Italy would allow energy to be easily transported where needed.

Many projects are underway and BaxEnergy is actively working and investing on hydrogen technologies to contribute to Italian energy transition through an independent monitoring and control system for hydrogen production and application.

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