Piedmont, a region in northwest Italy, has embraced hydrogen potential as a beacon of hope for its industrial rebirth. As the clock ticks on the European Union’s ambitious Recovery and Resilience Plan (Pnrr), Piedmont, along with other Italian regions, is rapidly transitioning towards a hydrogen-powered future.
The urgency is clear; time is running out, and the Pnrr, a financial lifeline for post-pandemic recovery and green transformation, is in motion. Piedmont, alongside Puglia, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Umbria, and Basilicata, has set its sights on green hydrogen as a catalyst for change. Investing in this clean energy source represents not just a commitment to a greener future but also an opportunity to revitalize abandoned industrial areas, create new employment opportunities, protect the environment, and reassert the region’s industrial prominence.
March 2023 marked a significant milestone in this journey. After the memorandum of understanding signed with Palazzo Chigi in June 2022, Piedmont concluded the selection process for the call launched by the Ministry of the Environment in December. This call was a part of Mission 2 of the Pnrr, titled ‘Green Revolution and Ecological Transition.’ In the end, Piedmont approved the ranking, signaling the green light for hydrogen initiatives in the region.
The Birth of the Piedmontese Hydrogen Valley
Seven projects emerged as eligible, with three receiving immediate financing, totaling 19.5 million euros. These initiatives mark the birth of the Piedmontese Hydrogen Valley. Among the beneficiaries, RF-Idra Srl, a company within the Redfield group, received 1.2 million euros. Their project centers on constructing a 1 MW green hydrogen generation plant, powered by an adjacent photovoltaic system. This innovative endeavor will repurpose a disused industrial area in Gattinara, Vercelli, to produce hydrogen for modern brick kilns, providing a sustainable solution to an age-old industry.
Films Spa secured 1.5 million euros of the available funds for its 3.5 million euro project. Their undertaking involves the transformation of an abandoned industrial area in Premosello Chiovenda into a green energy hub. This area, owned by the Omcd Group, has already seen various environmental restoration projects, including asbestos roof disposal.
The largest share, a substantial 16.8 million euros, was allocated to Sarpom Spa refinery in Trecate, Novara. This ambitious project entails the creation of a 6.7 MW peak power plant and a 4 MW electrolyzer within a disused section of the existing facility. The aim is to produce renewable hydrogen, with operations slated to commence by the first half of 2026.
These three projects will install electrolysers with a combined capacity of 6 megawatts, complemented by newly built photovoltaic systems boasting nearly 9 megawatts of total power generation. Initially, the renewable hydrogen produced will cater to Piedmontese production companies’ industrial processes, but the future holds broader applications, potentially including transportation.
A Vision for Piedmont’s Future
Governor Alberto Cirio expressed his pride in Piedmont’s entrepreneurial spirit, highlighting its capacity to meet the challenges of the energy transition. Meanwhile, Environment Councilor Matteo Marnati revealed the region’s ambitions, having already requested additional government funding to bolster Piedmont’s hydrogen strategy.
Piedmont’s journey into the hydrogen age demonstrates how embracing green energy sources can rekindle economic activity, revamp disused industrial areas, and promote environmental sustainability. It stands as a beacon of inspiration for regions worldwide seeking to transition to a greener, more prosperous future. As the clock continues to tick, Piedmont’s efforts illustrate the transformative power of green hydrogen and its potential to spark an industrial renaissance.