In a visionary move to power the future of aviation with sustainable energy, Italy’s Hydrogen Valley Malpensa project has officially taken off. The project, supported by European funding under the EU research and innovation program Horizon Europe, aims to create a hydrogen ecosystem around the Malpensa airport, with a focus on hydrogen production, storage, transportation, and consumption.
The Hydrogen Valley Malpensa project, technically referred to as TH2ICINO (Towards H2ydrogen Integrated eConomies In Northern Italy), is set to become the first of its kind in Italy and one of the pioneering hydrogen initiatives in Europe within the airport sector.
At its core, this initiative seeks to reduce annual CO2 emissions in the Malpensa area by a significant 4,400 tonnes, equivalent to the emissions from 1,500 cars. Andrea Bombardi, Carbon Reduction Excellence Executive Vice President of RINA, emphasized the importance of this target.
One of the key partners in this venture is Lhyfe, a company dedicated to the energy transition, which will install an electrolyser (hydrogen production plant) in the region. The produced hydrogen will be stored locally and used to fuel the Sea fleet vehicles at the airport through hydrogen refueling stations.
The airport ecosystem surrounding Malpensa is expected to be transformed into a reference model for hydrogen utilization in aviation, and potentially, for other airports worldwide. The Hydrogen Valley Master Planning Tool aims to provide a blueprint for future hydrogen projects at airports.
This visionary project has garnered strong support from both regional and industrial leaders. Attilio Fontana, the President of the Lombardy Region, emphasized the need for sustainable fuels that can be produced locally, reducing dependence on the global supply chain and creating jobs.
Lombardy is on the cusp of unveiling its first hydrogen-powered trains, signifying significant progress in utilizing hydrogen as a sustainable energy source. The President of Fnm Group, Andrea Gibelli, stressed the potential of hydrogen but also acknowledged the current high cost of production. He likened the hydrogen sector to the early days of photovoltaic panels, where increased production eventually led to cost reductions.
The Hydrogen Valley Malpensa project has the potential to drive economic development, job creation, and energy autonomy in the region. Emanuele Antonelli, the Mayor of Busto Arsizio, noted that this initiative increases the area’s attractiveness and contributes to energy sustainability.
Airlines are also eager to embrace hydrogen technology in their quest for decarbonization. Lorenzo Lagorio, the Country Manager of easyJet, highlighted hydrogen’s essential role in achieving ambitious environmental goals.
Roberto Grassi, the President of Confindustria Varese, emphasized the importance of assisting businesses in transitioning to green energy. He sees hydrogen as a critical alternative energy source for energy-intensive manufacturing sectors.
Isabella Tovaglieri, an MEP of the League, underscored hydrogen’s indispensability for meeting energy transition targets and suggested that it could replace forced electrification.
The Hydrogen Valley Malpensa project represents a collaborative effort with various European partners spanning the entire hydrogen value chain. It aims to set an example for sustainable aviation and inspire similar initiatives across Europe and beyond.