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Gallo (Italgas) “green hydrogen will allow flexibility to the electrical system”

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“Green hydrogen will make it possible to give flexibility to the electricity system”. This was stated in an interview with Adnkronos by the CEO of Italgas, Paolo Gallo, explaining that “the issue of green hydrogen arises from the fact that in a not too distant future, the majority of electricity production sources will be renewable. . Already in 2020 at the EU level, he notes, “production from renewable sources has overtaken that from traditional sources. This phenomenon is due both to the drop in consumption linked to the pandemic and to greater efficiency; it is however a very important signal in perspective. From the moment in which renewable sources were to reach and exceed 80% of electricity production – he notes – it will be necessary to face and manage the loss of flexibility of the electricity system “. Today, he stresses,” the flexibility of electrical systems is guaranteed by conventional power plants. with fossil fuels able to adapt their production by increasing or reducing it according to the demand for electricity. When these power plants were no longer present, the electricity system would present critical issues in terms of flexibility: this is where green hydrogen comes in handy. The production surplus from renewable sources is used for the production of hydrogen produced through the electrolysis of water, thus storing this energy in the hydrogen carrier to then have it available when the system needs it in different places and times “. battery solution, explains Gallo, “it is not a current solution: for dimensional reasons, in order to modulate a national electrical system, numerous football fields would be required to be filled with batteries. In addition, the availability of rare metals that these batteries require is concentrated in a few foreign countries, thus risking to pass from a dependence on hydrocarbons to another dependence “.” The hydrogen obtained from the electrolysis of water using the surplus from renewable sources – underlines Gallo – is the simplest and practically unlimited way in terms of size to recover the flexibility that the electrical system gradually loses as it is created renewable sources take the place of conventional sources. Hydrogen can be burned in a plant that today burns methane gas or used directly as primary fuel for civil and industrial uses: all this is possible only if the infrastructure for gas distribution exists “. Renewable sources, notes the CEO of Italgas, “are scattered throughout the territory, decentralized. When they produce hydrogen, they need a network close to where to feed it: the role of the distributor is further amplified because it has a capillary network, distributed throughout the territory. In order to accommodate this production of hydrogen from renewable sources, the distributor must digitize the network, to know in real time the gas mix it is passing through, and must make the network itself flexible (concept of ‘reverse flow’) “. The same concept, he explains Gallo, “applies to the production of biomethane. Precisely for this reason we need an intelligent, digital, flexible network, which has the possibility of reversing flows (reverse flow); a network monitored and managed remotely in the event that its structure needs to be corrected. “Precisely for this reason, in the strategic plan of Italgas, which provides for an investment program of 7.9 billion euros, the emphasis was placed precisely on digitization. The objective of the plan that was presented on June 15 is to complete the digital transformation of assets in 2022. In fact, over 2 billion have been allocated to the digitization of Italgas networks and plants, half of which have already been “Digital transformation is the heart of our plan”, adds Gallo. In Sardinia, Gallo continues, “we have created an experimentation laboratory that will allow us from 2022 to test our new networks with the hydrogen that we will produce using renewable energy “. The pilot project, he explains,” represents an investment of 15-20 million euros. Starting from water, we will produce oxygen and green hydrogen (20 tons per year of H2 in the first phase and then reach 34 tons per year by 2028), and a methanation section to test the production of synthetic methane. This is a unique project of its kind in Italy in terms of size (1000 kW photovoltaic system and a 500 kw electrolyser) and peculiarity and has attracted the attention of many operators, not only in our country “. he adds, “it will produce hydrogen. We will stock it and partially feed it into our methane gas distribution networks. In part we will use it to test another process combining hydrogen with carbon dioxide that will create a synthetic natural gas that we will introduce into our network by mixing it with natural gas and hydrogen “. In short, in Sardinia,” we create a real experimentation laboratory to test the presence in the network of mixtures of hydrogen, natural gas, synthetic gas and biomethane. It is a process consistent with the European vision: the European Commission in fact has argued that the networks in the future will have to be able to manage different gases. We put this into practice: we produce these different gases, we feed them into the network and verify that everything works according to our expectations. “This project, he adds,” is a scalable and above all replicable project. “The PNRR worth over 191 billion euros, explains the CEO of Italgas, “it is extremely interesting: more than half, about 100 billion, are dedicated to two areas that are fundamental for the relaunch of the country: the energy transition and the digital transition. And we are particularly pleased because they are the two pillars of our 2021-2027 strategic plan “. In fact, Gallo notes,” we see the digital transition and the energy transition deeply connected, deeply intertwined. You can’t do one if you don’t do the other “. For Italgas number one, in fact,” if you do not evolve from a digital point of view, you will not be able to fully grasp the energy transition and achieve the objectives that EU has set for 2050 “. Meanwhile Italgas is completing the installation of smart meters.” The installation – he underlines – is practically completed. We have already replaced almost 8 million and about 200 thousand remain to be replaced. Now we are already thinking about the next generation of meters and together with our suppliers we are already developing a whole series of new features related to battery life, cybersecurity, management of different gases such as hydrogen. “The next generation of smart meters, Gallo continues, he must make us take a further step forward. “Based on the experience gained in recent years and with the technologies that will be available, we are already redesigning future smart meters. We will start testing them in the next few years and they will be ready when we need to replace the ones we installed in 2014, 2015. The next generation meters will include more features than the current ones, “he points out.

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