Hydrogen helps Italy to achieve climate transition

Italy will spend one billion euros in Taranto and Sulcis Iglesiente to accomplish a just climate transition without economic harm from the European Commission.

The Apulian city with Europe’s largest steelworks (previously Ilva) faces a challenge. “New business models, improved availability of renewable energy and green hydrogen and rehabilitation are vital to changing steelmaking,” the Commission stated.

One third of Taranto’s industrial workers are in the steel industry, therefore EU funds will retrain 4,300 of them for “green” jobs in clean energy and the circular economy. Brussels will also provide help to the most needy and activate programs for women who are unemployed.

It also promotes wind turbines, green hydrogen, and geothermal plants for buildings in the province to ensure inexpensive renewable energy for economic and residential activities. The Commission said EU money will establish a “green belt” surrounding Taranto with urban parks and natural areas to repair degraded land and reduce CO2 emissions.

Sulcis Iglesiente, the former Italian mining hub, will receive the minerals. Italy’s final coal mine, in southern Sardinia, will be affected by the 2025 coal phaseout. Thus, the EU invested to diversify the green economy, agriculture, tourism, and Sulcis Iglesiente marine economy.

Micro-enterprises will get help innovating products, processes, organization, and marketing. According to a Commission note, research, innovation, and technology transfer programs will benefit SMEs and startups, especially in the circular economy.

EU money will also train 2,250 workers and improve job-seeker and business-startup services. Finally, Brussels’ help would enable renewable energy communities to eliminate poverty caused by high bills and energy issues that plagued Sulcis before the war in Ukraine.

The Commission also approved amendments to an Italian loan guarantee scheme, including a budget increase of up to €23 billion, financed by Rome, to support firms throughout the war.

In addition to the budget increase, the changes include the introduction of an aid measure of up to 7 million euros to cover guarantee premiums; an extension until 31 December 2023 of the period in which aid can be granted; the possibility for energy-intensive companies to obtain guarantees to cover liquidity needs for 12 months for small and medium-sized enterprises or 6 months for large beneficiaries; and the

The Commission found that the Italian measure amendments comply with the State aid Crisis Temporary Framework.