Hydrogen: the geopolitical challenge – New scenarios in the Mediterranean for Italy

  EXHIBITION, Oil&nonOil 2021 Verona

Several members of the Italian and European Parliament met today to discuss the issue of “The hydrogen challenge: geopolitics and new equilibriums” – the subject of a conference organized by Oil&nonOil at Veronafiere on the third and last day of the 16th edition

The Mediterranean was the natural focus, so to speak, of the debate and its broad cultural as well as economic horizons. it was also attended by Nader Akkad, Imam of the Great Mosque of Rome.

In his report, Ettore Rosato, Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies, called for a new departure after the pandemic, provided that “we should spend one hundred million euros every day” and that means “get running, even in where it is difficult”, as in the case of hydrogen. Rosato highlighted the need for “great awareness” in public and private spheres over the importance of “a challenge we may even lose” and pointed out that “Investments in hydrogen are not immediately profitable”. However, in his opinion, “there are companies and experiences in the Italian panorama that can take advantage of this opportunity even for “in person” work worldwide.”

Andrea Cozzolino, President of the Delegation for Relations with Maghreb Countries and the Arab Maghreb Union (Dmag) of the European Parliament, highlighted the two stages in the transition process: “one stage through to 2030 that will above all have an impact on the industrial cycle and the other from 2030 to 2050 that will impact the transport system, mobility and homes”. Cozzolino added: “hydrogen opens up an extraordinary prospect for developing relationships in the Mediterranean. We can open up a completely new scenario, especially with certain countries”, to their benefit and that of our own companies. Cozzolino focused on the three countries he works with through EU mixed commissions: Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco – and in particular the latter “is the most stable and secure country in the Mediterranean.”

Nader Akkad, Imam of the Great Mosque of Rome, suggested that the ecological transition faces the Arab world with “challenges concerning the sharing of resources with the planet”. The Imam indicated several countries interested in hydrogen, such as Algeria, or already well ahead in development, such as the United Arab Emirates and especially Saudi Arabia. “Today, great challenges are not won alone,” Akkad said, whereby we need “alliances that promote not only green issues but also the growth of our planet from the point of view of integrated ecology”. The reference is to Pope Francis and the vision of a world where men and women are interdependent with each other and mother earth. Certainly, one can imagine in the Mediterranean “a great collaboration between shores north and south… yet let’s not forget Gulf countries as part of a single strategy,” he added.

Andrea Causin, a member of the Senate Defence Committee, highlighted that hydrogen is an issue attracting great attention by world powers and will be so for some time to come. It is “a topic that will unfold over the next thirty years,” although a more concrete phase will already be seen in 10-15 years. The Senator suggested the need to see “to what extent can the development of green hydrogen be a European sphere of interest” and to what extent can Italy be part of it. In this regard, MEP Paolo Borchia – a member of the EU Parliament Committee for Industry, Research and Energy (Itre) – called for a non-ideological approach. He criticized the Hydrogen Strategy Report approved a couple of months ago because it is “based exclusively on promoting green hydrogen.”