Paul Rodden • Season: 2023 • Episode: 271
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Welcome to The Hydrogen Podcast!
In episode 271, SNAM announces big plans for a green hydrogen hub in Italy. And GM is back in the fuel cell business with Komatsu. I’ll go over these announcements and give my thoughts on today’s hydrogen podcast.
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SNAM announces big plans for a green hydrogen hub in Italy. And GM is back in the fuel cell business with Komatsu. I’ll go over these announcements and give my thoughts on today’s hydrogen podcast.
So the big questions in the energy industry today are, how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where is capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters who recognize the importance of hydrogen? I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital. Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden and welcome to the hydrogen podcast.
In a press release on December 12, Modena Hydrogen Valley takes off with the signing of MOU. IdrogeMO Project by Hera group and Snam at the heart of the project, the Modena hydrogen Valley, one of the first and most important projects for the development of renewable hydrogen to support the energy transition and Italy has officially been 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.
Okay, so a rather large hub under development in Italy. And it’s good to see SNAM continuing to lead the way in southern Europe on hydrogen development. Now, geographically speaking, this timing works well with what we’ve heard in the last couple of months from Germany and Spain on their development plans. And we can now begin to envision how the European backbone plan can begin developing as these hubs grow, interconnections will begin to develop. Now there is also growing news around the hydrogen corridor coming up from Northern Africa that also plays into the hydrogen development in southern Europe and will aid in solidifying the hydrogen economy there. Now the press release does go on to mention one of the heavy uses of this hydrogen will be public transport was set up purchasing 12 Fuel Cell EV buses to be used in Modena and surrounding areas. And with this project moving so quickly, it will be interesting to see what other regions follow suit and ramp up their timeframes. Next, in a press release on December 12, General Motors and Komatsu will co-develop a hydrogen fuel cell power module for Komatsu’s 930E electric drive mining truck, the world’s best-selling ultra-class haul truck.
GM, a leader in hydrogen fuel cell technology, and Komatsu, a global manufacturer of mining and construction equipment, will jointly design and validate the technology. Lightweight and quick to refuel, hydrogen fuel cells are ideal for electrifying applications traditionally powered by diesel engines. Hydrogen provides an effective method to package large quantities of energy onboard the vehicle, without compromising payload carrying capacity. Additionally, fuel cells provide an excellent zero tailpipe emissions solution for vehicles with extreme hauling requirements, like the Komatsu 930E mining truck, with its nominal payload of 320 tons. These vehicles typically operate at a single mine throughout their life, which simplifies the challenges of sizing and deploying an effective hydrogen refueling infrastructure to service the vehicle fleet.
Komatsu’s fuel cell-powered mining trucks will provide an additional pathway for decarbonization beyond battery-trolley or battery-static charging solutions, without the need for additional charging infrastructure within mines. Komatsu has set a target of reducing its global emissions by 50% by 2030 and a challenge target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The plans for achieving these goals include reducing and eliminating emissions within the company’s product offerings, as well as in the company’s facilities and production of its products. Komatsu also works closely with its customers on reducing and eliminating emissions during product use through optimization programs supported by Komatsu technology and service solutions. GM and Komatsu intend to test the first prototype HYDROTEC-powered mining vehicle in the mid-2020s at Komatsu’s Arizona Proving Grounds (AZPG) research and development facility. This vehicle will be powered by over 2 megawatts of HYDROTEC power cubes.
GM has been conducting fuel cell research and product development for more than 50 years and is one of the only companies with advanced, homegrown technology platforms for both lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. GM and Komatsu believe these complimentary technologies can help spur the adoption of lower-emission mobility solutions and help other industries beyond passenger vehicles meet their sustainability goals. Okay, well, it’s not often that hydrogen fuel cell news hits this hard. This story has been everywhere this week and rightfully so, this is big news for fuel cell development and deployment in areas where fully electric options simply won’t work.
Now, GM does have a long history with fuel cells, and is actually the reason I became interested in hydrogen back in the late 90s. And so for GM to partner with Komatsu on this shows just how serious both companies are in pursuing this technology. We know that JCB and Caterpillar have been adopting hydrogen and their product offerings. So it comes as no surprise that Komatsu is following suit, but to see they’re partnering with GM does break away from the others, as JCB and Caterpillar develop their hydrogen solutions, largely in house. So this aids, both corporations, GM and Komatsu in their decarbonisation goals. And I’m also glad to see these vehicles will be tested in Arizona. But my next question is, where are they going to be sourcing the hydrogen? Have they sourced their hydrogen yet?
And if so, from who? I’m looking forward to seeing this project, move forward and get those questions answered? All right. That’s it for me, everyone. If you have a second, I would really appreciate it. If you could leave a good review on whatever platform it is that you listen to Apple, podcast, Spotify, Google, YouTube, whatever it is, that would be a tremendous help to the show. And as always, if you ever have any feedback, you’re welcome to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. So until next time, keep your eyes up and honor one another.
Hey, this is Paul. I hope you liked this podcast. If you did and want to hear more. I’d appreciate it if you would subscribe to this channel on YouTube, or connect with your favorite platform through my website at www.thehydrogenpodcast.com. Thanks for listening. I very much appreciate it. Have a great day.