Develop the diffusion of hydrogen, produced from renewable sources, in production processes and promote the birth of renewable energy communities, thus creating a Hydrogen Valley. These are the objectives of the Municipality of Arezzo. In fact, the process of defining the “Arezzo Hydrogen Valley” project continues, the subject of a recent memorandum of understanding signed – last June – at the University of Florence by the rector Alessandra Petrucciby the mayor of the Municipality of Arezzo Alessandro Ghinelliby the president of Confindustria Toscana Sud Fabrizio Bernini and by the sole director of Coingas Spa Franco Scortecci.
The City Council of the Tuscan city has in fact approved the Paesc (Action Plan for Sustainable Energy and the Climate), emphasizing the need to implement energy policies that combine support for the economy and the achievement of environmental objectives. A plan that will therefore focus on energy communities and above all on Hydrogen Valley for the medium-long term.
It is a “valley of hydrogen” capable of producing at least 500 tons a year for businesses and citizens. And this alongside other sources, such as methane, renewables and the production of the San Zeno waste-to-energy plant potentially capable of supplying electricity for 16,000 families: all this together – in the plans of the Municipality of Arezzo – would create an energy mix capable of making the territory less dependent “on the uncertainty of periodic fluctuations and on gas from unreliable states, while at the same time reducing bills”.
Renewables and hydrogen, the battery is designed in Trento without rare materials
by Jaime D’Alessandro
For the moment, however, hydrogen is unable to provide guarantees of success in terms of domestic application. Research commissioned after the UK government proposed it as a substitute for gas for heating British homes has confirmed that hydrogen is unlikely to play a major role in home heating, as it is “much less efficient and more expensive than alternatives such as heat pumps, district heating and solar thermal”.
There are many other uses of hydrogen as a fuel, for example to decarbonise heavy industry and shipping. If these industries are to be truly low-carbon, the hydrogen “used will have to be generated using renewable energy, rather than come from fossil fuels as is currently the case with much hydrogen,” the researchers explain.
The Arezzo project, therefore, wants to stand as a functional territorial model, to be replicated on a continental level. And hydrogen was chosen above all because it is a clean energy vector, with zero emissions, and because it would be one of the many virtuous “cartridges” available to the Tuscan hub. “The industrial area of San Zeno has in fact been identified for the Arezzo Hydrogen Valley: strategic – the Municipality argues – because a hydrogen pipeline, a waste-to-energy plant and energy-intensive companies are already located there. The users of the 500 tonnes will be the economic fabric of the area itself and the transport activities, without neglecting the domestic use channel. The Arezzo Hydrogen Valley will make it possible to avoid the emission of 3 million tons of carbon dioxide every year”.
Shell builds a mega renewable hydrogen plant in the Netherlands
A strong point of San Zeno is precisely the presence of the “zero waste” industrial hub for the valorisation of urban waste, managed by the public subsidiary Aisa Impianti, which is carrying out an investment project already approved in the Region to increase the recovery of materials and at the same time the recovery of energy – through waste-to-energy for the dry fractions, biodigestion for the wet – from waste. “We will complete the work on the biodigester by the first quarter of 2023, while the 75,000-ton waste-to-energy line will be completed by the end of 2024” confirmed the president of Aisa Impianti, Giacomo Cherici.
The cost of the Hydrogen Valley is 16 million euros, of which 8 million will be co-financed if the Municipality wins the ad hoc European tender. The Municipality is the coordinator of the project, 15 institutional subjects and companies involved, a city in Croatia, one in Bulgaria and a region in Poland have said they are available to replicate it.