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Focus on the role of hydrogen in the energy transition and Italy-US collaboration in the field: webinar organized by the Embassy of Italy in Washington

A webinar was held today, organized by the Embassy of Italy in Washington, dedicated to hydrogen technologies and their role in the energy transition.

“Hydrogen-based technologies will play a crucial role in energy transition,” noted Ambassador Mariangela Zappia, recalling that the issue is central to the G20 agenda and highlighting that “hydrogen technologies offer great opportunities for collaboration between Italy and the United States on, based on shared values and technological capacity.”

The event, opened by Ambassador Zappia and the Director of the Office of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies of the U.S. Department of Energy, Sunita Satyapal, brought together experts from the areas of industry and academia as well as institutions responsible for defining energy policies: Robert C. Armstrong (Director, MIT Energy Initiative), Rod Borup (Fuel Cell Program Manager, Los Alamos National Laboratory), Andrea Pisano (Head of Energy Evolution Integrated Initiatives, ENI), Cosma Panzacchi (Head of Hydrogen Business Unit USA, SNAM), and Filippo Bartoloni (Head of Green Hydrogen Projects Development, ENEL Green Power). The webinar was moderated by Rachel Franzin (Energy and Environment Reporter, The Hill).

According to the International Energy Agency, between 1973 and 2018 the total energy supply grew by about 130%, with a substantially unchanged percentage of coal use, a drop in oil use from 46.2% to 31.6%, a significant increase in the areas of natural gas and nuclear, and a growing, but still marginal, use of renewables. In 2021, global energy demand is expected to grow by 4.6%. Fossil fuel demand is projected to increase significantly in 2021, and coal demand alone is expected to surge by 60% over all renewables combined, entailing an emissions increase of nearly 5%.

The recent “Climate change 2021 – Physical Science base” report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), estimates that the average global temperature is expected to increase by 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2040, and that it will continue to rise for another ten years. However, we can still limit warming by accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Technology is the key to accelerating this transition. In particular, hydrogen-based technologies will play an increasing – and crucial – role. In the short term, up to 2030, hydrogen will become progressively competitive in specific applications, such as chemicals, transportation, and oil refining; in the long term, up to 2050, it could support decarbonization along with other low-carbon technologies, especially in “hard-to-abate” sectors, such as energy-intensive manufacturing processes.

The “Hydrogen National Strategy” prepared by the Italian Government, green hydrogen, produced through electrolysis, a fundamental resource for the achievement of the national environmental objectives and the safe and reliable production of energy. The Italian companies in the energy sector, mainly ENI, ENEL and SNAM have reached an advanced technological level in this area that makes them competitive internationally. The webinar aims to enhance this Italian experience in a context that is currently very favorable and interested such as the American one.