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ENEA invests in Italian hydrogen valley

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ENEA is creating the first Italian Hydrogen Valley to develop a national supply chain for production, transport, storage and use of hydrogen, focusing on research, technologies, infrastructures and innovative services.

The project, conceived by ENEA, kicks off with a 14 million euro investment to set up the first Italian technological incubator for the development of an hydrogen supply chain.

“In this multifunctional, comprehensive hub all the potentials of hydrogen to accelerate research and innovation and make hi-tech infrastructures available to bridge the gap between the lab and industry will be explored.”

Giorgio Graditi, head of the ENEA Department of Energy Technologies and Renewable Sources and ENEA representative in the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance.

The project provides for the construction – at the ENEA Casaccia Research Center, on the outskirt of Rome – of an ensemble of hi-tech infrastructures for research and experimentation in the hydrogen supply chain.

The ENEA hub will also make it possible to experiment with new technologies for hydrogen generation, for example by using waste (residual biomass) and medium-high temperature renewable heat produced by concentrated solar plants.

Inside the incubator, electricty will be generated using pure hydrogen and natural gas/hydrogen mixtures; to this aim, hydrogen-methane blends will be studied, to be injected into the internal gas distribution network and a local “hydrogen pipeline” built to transmit pure hydrogen under pressure, with a capillary distribution according to end users demand.

An hydrogen refueling station will be installed to power the goods movement vehicles, buses and cars in use at the ENEA Research Center, to help showing how this fuel can contribute to decarbonize the mobility sector.

Among the most interesting applications that will be studied at the Hydrogen Valley is power-to-gas, a process converting renewable energy into hydrogen through electrolysis.

The hydrogen produced can be converted into methane or fed into the internal natural gas grid, making it possible to store the energy produced from renewable sources, helping “stabilize” the power grid and acting as a connecting element between power and gas grid, in anticipation of a strong growth of renewables.

The ENEA hydrogen strategy plans for the implementation of industry decarbonization projects, particularly the energy-intensive one, and of heavy road and rail transport still diesel powered.

Furthermore, ENEA and the Ministry of Economic Development signed a collaboration agreement to jointly develop activities and initiatives for coordinating industry, national research and PA in the effort to create an Italian hydrogen supply chain, seizing the great opportunity offered by the Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI).

In particular, ENEA will contribute by providing technical-scientific studies, analyses, consultancy and assistance to support the MiSE start-up, manage and complete the IPCEI, also through participation in working groups, commissions, national and European committees and round tables, preparation of technical-scientific opinions for the implementation of the IPCEI regulation and support in the preparation of annual reports.

Anela Dokso

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