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ports will play a strategic role –

ports will play a strategic role –
ports will play a strategic role –

Thanks to its geographical position, the infrastructural network and a solid scientific and design know-how, Italy will be able to become a center of gravity between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean, through the creation of a hub for the transport and distribution of ‘green hydrogen, i.e. that produced from renewable sources.

In this perspective, ports, due to their logistical facilities, proximity to industrial plants and international connections, are particularly suitable for hosting hydrogen valleys. In Europe, several airports such as Rotterdam, Antwerp or Hamburg, Amsterdam or Valencia are already focusing on hydrogen. Our country is a little behind, but some port authorities have already started initiatives that look in this direction.

what emerges from the new Med and Italian Energy Report, presented on Wednesday 1 December in Brussels by Studies and Research for the South (study center connected to the Intesa Sanpaolo group) and the ESL Energy Center of the Turin Polytechnic.

Unlike the European countries, which have already included hydrogen in the strategy of Green Deal to which is added the European Hydrogen Strategy, published in 2020 by the European Commission, Middle East e North Africa currently does not have organic strategies on the penetration of hydrogen, even if some countries such as Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia have identified hydrogen as a commodity that can help them achieve sustainability goals.

Morocco, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Israel and Algeria, however, have an immense wealth of renewable sources. In particular, Morocco and Egypt have a large component of wind with respectively 62% and 71% of the wind contribution on the whole of renewable electricity. While Israel, Algeria and the United Arab Emirates are boosting solar power with percentages between 87% and 100%. It shows that northern countries are more predisposed to green hydrogen. Precisely this potential, according to the Med and Italian Energy Report, can be the starting point for developing a new energy partnership in the Mediterranean that has hydrogen at its center.

The economic and geopolitical advantages

The energy transition is now an essential requirement also for the Mediterranean region. Its implementation will hinge on the interaction between three key commodities: electricity, hydrogen and gas. In particular, green hydrogen could play an important role not only from the point of view of environmental sustainability, but also as a development opportunity for the countries of the eastern and southern shores and, therefore, for the harmonious growth of the entire Mediterranean region. . Targeted investments in the sector, supported by an adequate regulatory framework, will in fact allow the creation of a new industrial chain, leading to an improvement in the living conditions of citizens and a possible stabilization of the area, explained Ettore Bompard, scientific director of ESL @ Energy Center. This would allow the development of a new Mediterranean energy dialogue, based on renewables, capable of replacing the current one, based on gas and oil.

A cooperative approach in the Mediterranean area also has a number of economic advantages. The scenarios up to 2040 show that, if it is true that in the future hydrogen will represent 25% of European energy demand, a cooperative approach between the three shores of the Mediterranean would allow to meet this demand with a total installed capacity of 36 GW, less than that required if an approach oriented towards self-sufficiency on the part of each bank is adopted.

The role of gas pipelines

The existing interconnections between the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean for the transport of natural gas will facilitate the penetration of hydrogen and the development of a Mediterranean green hydrogen market, especially if we follow the path of transporting hydrogen in the form of a mixture with natural gas. Currently – the report recalls – there are 4 gas pipelines (MEG, Medgaz, Transmed and Greenstream) che connect the Nord Africa (i.e. Algeria and Libya) e Europe (Italy and Spain), whose factor from use between the 32% and the 64%. If the utilization of available capacity continues to be relatively low, as was the case in 2020, the overall amount of energy that could be transported in form from hydrogen it could go on 4,4 TWh/a to the 19,9 TWh/a, depending on the percentage of hydrogen in the mixture (5% and 20% respectively).

Opportunities for Italy

In the case of Italy, the maximum potential import of hydrogen through pipelines could be 33.7 TWh / a, i.e. around 2.5% of Italy’s total final energy consumption in 2019. The Pnrr represents the basis to start a new process in our country based on the Green economy and also on the synergy that can be established with the Blue economy, it is no coincidence that we have also dedicated a chapter to ports and shipping. Italy must be ready to play and win “The new game of Hydrogen”, this is the new ability to be put on the field, he stressed Massimo Deandreis, general manager Srm. Italy has every interest in playing this game, given that its energy dependence on foreign countries is 77% and on gas it even arrives al 93% (against a European average of around 70%).

The industry value chain represents a great opportunity for the Mediterranean area and in particular for our country. The chemical industry, especially that for the production of methanol and ammonia, could be one of early markets per hydrogen, another that of the so-called agreen steel, of which the north shore could become a major producer.


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