October 10, 2019 / 5:09 PM / 8 days ago

Italy's Snam looking to raise hydrogen mix in its pipelines

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s Snam is planning to inject more hydrogen into its gas pipeline network and will be able to count on the backing of Rome as the new government rolls out its new climate package.

Green hydrogen, produced by electrolysis using solar and wind power sources, is seen by many as a possible replacement for fossil fuels such as natural gas since it does not produce carbon dioxide when burnt. 

Europe’s biggest gas transport group said on Thursday it would blend 10% of hydrogen with natural gas in its network in a test area in southern Italy before the end of the year.

That compares to a 5% mix the group has already tested on parts of its network near the southern city of Salerno.

At a conference in Rome, Snam Chief Executive Marco Alverà said the use of hydrogen could cover almost a quarter of national energy consumption by 2050.

“And it is precisely the regions in the south of Italy, rich in renewable energy, that could help affirm hydrogen as a new clean energy vector,” he said.

The International Energy Agency says hydrogen may be an essential part of the tool kit needed to achieve the deep decarbonisation targets governments set under climate deals.

Snam, controlled by state lender CDP, is one of several gas infrastructure players in Europe looking to bulk up the amount of green hydrogen in their systems on the chance it could one day replace natural gas.

Alverà said the hydrogen market worldwide could be worth $2.5 trillion in 2050 if industry embraced the fuel.

Italy is currently working on a green new deal package to help improve its environment credentials and boost growth.

Italy’s 5-Star Movement, one of the government’s two ruling coalition parties, has said it wants an end to coal-fired power plants by 2025 and is keen to phase out fossil fuels by 2050.

On Thursday Italy’s Industry Minister Stefano Patuanelli, a leading figure in 5-Star, said hydrogen was a key part of the government’s drive to boost renewable energy and circular economy technologies.

“Green hydrogen is an attractive prospect due to the capillarity of the gas network ... that can be used for long-term storage and conversion into power,” he said.

Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; editing by David Evans

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