As Europe propels towards decarbonization, the focus is rapidly turning to the potential of green hydrogen technology.
The European Union’s strategy is pivoting around the concept of ‘European Hydrogen Valleys’ that specialize in fuel cell and hydrogen (FCH) technologies. By providing a means for energy storage, hydrogen is key to resolving the supply-demand imbalance in renewable energy, preventing waste, and facilitating the integration of renewables into the grid.
Italy is leading the charge with an ambitious plan. The Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security has approved 54 projects presented by 19 regions and 2 autonomous provinces. The projects, which will contribute to the development of ‘Italian Hydrogen Valleys’, amount to an investment of approximately €724 million.
But the investment does not stop there. The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) is set to provide an additional €3.64 billion, promoting the development of local green hydrogen production districts in deserted industrial areas. Adolfo Urso, Minister of Enterprise and Made in Italy, has stated that these funds are substantial and will aid in establishing an Italian hydrogen supply chain. Simultaneously, the Government will work on streamlining bureaucratic and regulatory conditions to stimulate private investment.
These investments will facilitate the construction of new industrial plants, anticipated to produce 7,000 tons of green hydrogen from renewable sources each year. This production will be enabled by installing electrolyzers with a power capacity of 124.5 megawatts, powered by renewable energy drawn from the grid or supplied by dedicated power plants totaling 264.5 MW. Photovoltaics will be the major contributor.
This move by the Italian government is welcomed by the Italian Hydrogen Association (H2IT), which has been championing the potential of green hydrogen technologies. Alberto Dossi, the president of H2IT, described it as only the first step in a long journey. The hydrogen supply chain may be in its infancy, but it is already achieving substantial milestones. A national strategy is needed to bolster the growth and development of the industry, and Italy’s ambition to play a significant role in this new market needs to be outlined and supported by adequate policies and resources.
One key point of concern among businesses is the need for certainty in regulations. According to a survey by H2IT, 78% of businesses reported that the lack of stable rules was a significant issue, coupled with energy pricing. Therefore, while significant steps are being taken toward establishing Italy as a leader in the green hydrogen market, the journey ahead requires a comprehensive and long-term strategy. The Italian government’s response to these calls from the industry will be keenly observed.