Hydrogen mobility: Eni and Air Liquid partner to develop infrastructures

  Fuels, NEWS & INTERVIEWS, Sustainable Mobility, Technical innovation

The two companies will collaborate on a feasibility and sustainability study for a network of refuelling stations in Italy

Hydrogen applied to mobility continues to attract considerable interest as more and more companies decide to launch projects to develop a fundamental sector for transport decarbonisation policies. On 4 November, Eni and Air Liquide announced an investment partnership in the development of infrastructures needed to support the expansion of hydrogen mobility in Italy. The Eni, based in San Donato Milanese, and the French multinational specializing in the production of industrial gases have signed a letter of intent with the aim of promoting sustainable development of an extended network of hydrogen refuelling stations throughout Italy.

The collaboration will include a feasibility and sustainability study for the development of the low-carbon and renewable hydrogen supply chain to support the fuel cell vehicle market for heavy and light duty mobility. The two partners will also identify strategic points for the location of these refuelling stations. The partnership will leverage the Air Liquide’s expertise in the management of the entire hydrogen value chain (production, transport, storage and distribution) and the experience of Eni in commercial activities and the retail segment associated with its capillary network of service stations. This collaboration aims to promote the development of technologies, expertise and infrastructures to promote hydrogen mobility and will also evaluate potential partnerships with other major players.

As explained in a note by Eni’s Director General for Energy Evolution, Giuseppe Ricci, “The agreement with Air Liquide is a further step forward in promoting sustainable mobility”. Ricci added: “Decarbonisation of transport must exploit the synergy and complementary nature of already available technologies,” and for this reason Eni has launched activities ranging from upgrading power supply systems for electric vehicles to the production of bio-fuels, as well as distribution of biomethane and hydrogen, one of the products most useful in reducing emissions on which Eni intends to focus”. Ricci announced that by early 2022 Eni will already open the first hydrogen refuelling station in Italy in the urban area of Mestre (Venice), followed by the second in San Donato Milanese.

The Senior Vice President of Air Liquide, Pascal Vinet, remarked that “the implementation of a network of hydrogen refuelling stations is a fundamental milestone along this route”, emphasising that “The alliance between a leader in the hydrogen field and an integrated energy company operating on a global scale such as Eni will pave the way for extended access to hydrogen in Italy”.

Based on European Commission data, hydrogen currently accounts for 2% of current European energy consumption and is mainly used to prepare chemicals, such as plastics and fertilizers.96% of this hydrogen production is generated through natural gas, which releases significant amounts of carbon dioxide emissions in the process. However, hydrogen can also be produced from renewable energy. Renewable hydrogen (“green” or “clean” hydrogen) will play a key role in decarbonisation areas where other alternatives may be impractical or more expensive. These fields include transport and energy-intensive industrial processes. Hydrogen will be an important part of the European Union’s overall strategy for integrating the energy system. In 2020, the Commission adopted a new strategy specifically for hydrogen in Europe which brings together several strands of action: from research and innovation, to production, infrastructure and the international dimension.