News release: Hera Group and Snam to Build a Hydrogen Hub in Italy

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The Modena Hydrogen Valley, one of the first and most important projects for the development of renewable hydrogen to support the energy transition in Italy, has been officially launched.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed today at the Modena City Hall for the establishment of a hydrogen production hub built by the Hera Group and Snam to contribute to the decarbonisation of Emilia-Romagna. The development of a supply chain for this renewable energy carrier will have significant positive environmental, social and economic impacts in a region known for its strong entrepreneurial spirit.

The document was signed by the Municipality of Modena, the Hera Group, Snam, Seta, Unimore, the Agency for Energy and Sustainable Development (AESS), the Production Areas Consortium (CAP), the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), the Democenter Sipe Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce of Modena.

Present at the signing were the mayor of Modena Gian Carlo Muzzarelli, Regional Councillor for Economic Development Vincenzo Colla, Hera Group CEO Orazio Iacono, Snam’s Executive Director of the Decarbonisation Unit Piero Ercoli, the Rector of Unimore university Carlo Adolfo Porro, Seta Chairman Alberto Cirelli, the Head of Aess, Piergabriele Andreoli, Modena Chamber of Commerce Chairman Giuseppe Molinari, the Head of Cap, Luca Biancucci, and Democenter-Sipe Foundation President Roberto Zani. Giuseppina Gualteri, Chairwoman of Tper, was also present, and Giorgio Graditi, General Manager of Enea, sent a video message.

At the heart of Modena’s Hydrogen Valley will be IdrogeMO, a joint project between the Hera Group and Snam to create a production hub capable of producing up to 400 tonnes of renewable hydrogen per year, with the possibility of future expansion to increase production. In total, the planned investment amounts to over 20 million euros.

Given its importance in the context of energy transition and of the decarbonisation of the area, the partnership between the Hera Group, Herambiente and Snam was awarded 19.5 million euros in April by the regional government of Emilia-Romagna as part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP).

The potential of Modena’s Hydrogen Valley is already being recognised in the mobility sector, with local public transport companies Seta and Tper planning to convert part of their fleets to hydrogen-powered vehicles. Local industries, particularly in the automotive sector and in the hard-to-abate ceramics district, have also shown interest in using green hydrogen to decarbonise their production processes. In this context, the Democenter Sipe Foundation will work to involve relevant market segments, the Chamber of Commerce will promote project proposals and strategic development lines, and the Production Areas Consortium will contribute to the analysis of target areas. Meanwhile, Unimore university, with a team of researchers, will develop the Interdepartmental Centre of Excellence on Hydrogen (H2 MO.RE).

The IdrogeMO project, led by Hera in collaboration with Snam, will be the cornerstone of the Modena Hydrogen Valley.

Each company will play a distinct but interrelated role in the building of IdrogeMO: Hera S.p.A. will be the lead company, its subsidiary Herambiente will oversee the construction of the photovoltaic system and Snam will be responsible for building the hydrogen production plant.

In particular, the 6-megawatt photovoltaic park, featuring an innovative floating solar panel system, will be located on the depleted landfill of the Municipality of Modena, which has been granted in concession to Herambiente, contributing to a circular economy without using additional land. The photovoltaic system will power an electrolyser, which is capable of extracting hydrogen from water through electrolysis and will be located in a disused industrial area in Via Caruso, Modena. A battery will be added to store energy and ensure the operation of the 2.5-megawatt electrolyser during periods without sunlight or at night. Snam will be responsible for building the plant to produce hydrogen, an energy carrier whose development the company is actively pursuing in line with the European Union’s objectives outlined in the Repower EU Plan. The effort is part of a strategic plan up to 2026, which includes 1 billion euros for decarbonisation initiatives.

The plant will be operated by a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), a dedicated company controlled by the Hera Group and co-owned by Snam, which will oversee both the production and marketing of green hydrogen.

This facility, designed as a fully green hydrogen production centre, is currently in the final stages of design and construction is expected to begin by 2024. The photovoltaic system will be completed by 2025 and the hydrogen hub will be operational by 2026. Tenders for supply and construction contracts are already underway.

The first hydrogen-powered buses are coming soon to contribute to sustainable mobility

The hydrogen produced at the Modena plant will be used by the local public transport company Seta, which has initiated the purchase of 12 buses with NRRP funding, for a total of approximately 50 tonnes per year, covering 660,000 kilometres and resulting in a CO2 emission reduction of 737 tonnes per year compared to diesel buses.

The possibility of using hydrogen to power part of the Seta and Tper bus fleets in the provinces of Bologna, Ferrara and Modena is in line with the aim of making mobility more sustainable in the Emilia-Romagna region.

It is no coincidence that local public transport companies have already committed to converting part of their fleet to hydrogen. Due to its greater autonomy compared to electricity, hydrogen is considered more suitable for fuelling daily long-distance vehicles, especially buses operating on rural routes. The time required to refuel these vehicles is comparable to that of vehicles running on conventional fuels.

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