The Italian draft recovery plan could support the production of hydrogen from fossil gas and its use in rail traffic. This would increase Italy’s fossil gas dependency and leave renewable energy solutions behind.
In a nutshell:
- Hydrogen in Italy is currently produced from fossil fuels
- Investing in hydrogen from fossil gas and using it for trains is a waste of resources
- Instead, more investments are needed to accelerate the development of renewables and the electrification of transport
Italy’s Recovery Plan could finance fossil gas hydrogen plants connected to carbon capture and storage. However, besides being expensive and continuing to bet on fossil fuels, this is an insecure technology mix.
In addition, the Recovery plan aims to also introduce hydrogen-powered trains into the national rail network. The funding could be allocated to support 7 hydrogen supplying stations, their infrastructure and the purchase of 21 hydrogen trains.
There are two problems with this. Firstly, experimenting with hydrogen trains is at an initial phase, it is expensive and will inevitably see an increase in the amount of hydrogen produced from fossil fuels, given the scarce availability of renewable based hydrogen. Secondly, it goes against the overall tendency towards the electrification of the transport sector, and specifically of a large part of Italian railway lines in the next years.
Italy has to urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions in energy production and in the transport sector. This should be done through policies and investments that deploy renewables and the electrification in mobility. Instead of focusing on fossil hydrogen, public support should go towards offshore wind, larger scale solar energy, energy communities, and new electric trains.
Italian draft National Recovery and Resilience Plan (2021)
Legambiente (2021), Per un’Italia più verde, innovativa e inclusiva. Il PNRR che serve al Paese
Sole 24 Ore (2020). Eni scommette su Ravenna per spingere l’idrogeno blu