Carlo Bottani: “Hydrogen Valley? We will reach 100 million euros..."

The President of the Province of Mantua raises the bar of valor, proud to lead the energy transition of a highly polluted area

Hydrogen Valley: Carlo Bottani is the President of the Italian Province of Mantua
Former Mayor of Curtatone, from 18 December 2021 Carlo Bottani is the President of the Italian Province of Mantua

After Alto Adige, always along the ancient axis linking the Latin and Germanic worlds, the second most recent "Hydrogen Valley" in Italy is under construction, and the figures behind the idea are truly impressive.
It will happen in the Province of Mantua, in that extreme tip of Lombardia called by post-Gonzaga history to wedge itself between the neighboring regions of the Veneto and Emilia Romagna.
There are ongoing projects for 60 million euros, born from the collaboration between public and private subjects, from Italian companies as well as from foreign entities: they have been financed by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan in the context of an unparalleled initiative, which will fall in the jurisdiction of Charles Bottani.
Mayor of Curtatone since 2015, forty-five years of banking profession, former Secretary of the Union of the Center for the Mantua area, married and father of a child, the President of the Virgilian provincial administration since 18 December 2021 is the right person to make a specific point about the project.
I funding which will arrive will be used to create an industrial center capable of producing more than 1.500 tons of hydrogen year from renewable sources, avoiding the emission of more than 14.000 tons of CO2 per year for the same period: the fluvial port of Valdaro, connected to the Adriatic by both the Po and the Canalbiaco, will probably be the most important site.
A working group made up of AGIRE, the Energy Agency of the Province of Mantua, Sapio, a leading company in the production and marketing of technical gases, and Renhive, a company linked to the Mantuan Renovo Bioeconomy and to the multinational Hive Energy Limited, has created some of them.
In the presence of many operators in the sector and theinformation , during an interview following the official vernissage at the Casa del Mantegna, Carlo Bottani explained the benefits for the Province of Mantua of the strategic partnership that will give life to the innovative “Hydrogen Valley”.

In Mantua, the new Italian “Hydrogen Valley” warms up the muscles

President, with the "Hydrogen Valley" in Mantua you really thought big…
“We are witnessing an epochal opportunity, a historic occasion that we have shared since the beginning with my predecessor, Beniamino Morselli. The fact that Mantua is the most advanced regional and national point of this type of energy transition makes me proud to offer this opportunity to an area, in the heart of the Po valley, among the most polluted in Europe".

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Hydrogen Valley: the port of Mantua in Valdaro
The Port of Mantua, located in the locality of Valdaro, the heart of the future "Hydrogen Valley", is connected to the Adriatic Sea, from which it is about 140 kilometers away, both through the river Po and through the navigable canal Fissero-Tartaro-Canalbiaco

What is the estimated time frame for the project?
“The overall project was divided into 'functional lots' to be more competitive in regional, national and European funding calls: to date, funding linked to the PNRR and the European tender 'Innovation Fund (I3)' has been awarded, while it is in evaluation course the application to the European fund Horizon 2020 called 'Small Scale Hydrogen Valley'. The most important of the loans obtained concerns the allocation of 20 million euros to support Sapio's private investments, for the part of the 10 MW electrolyser capable of producing up to 1.500 tons of green hydrogen per year, and for the part of the field 14 MW photovoltaic, connected directly to the electrolyser, all in support of RenHive investments. In addition to this allocation, funding of 4,5 million euros was awarded to Sapio for the construction of a retail distributor for motor vehicles and, again in Sapio, 1.700.000 euros for an innovative cylinder pressurization system. As known, these investments must be made by 2026. For the European fund 'Innovation Fund (I3)', which involves Italian, Dutch, Belgian and Austrian partners, led by the Province of Mantua, the project is divided into three years starting from the signing of the Grant Agreement. The 'Small Scale Hydrogen Valley' project, on the other hand, led by Rina, but which will see the protagonists Sapio and AGIRE, the Energy Agency wholly owned by the Province of Mantua, which we hope to win, will instead develop over four years” .

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The city of Mantua, already the cradle of the Gonzaga Duchy, seems to light up with fire in the twilight in view of the "Hydrogen Valley"

THEhydrogen can it be used by companies in place of methane gas or mixed with it?
“Yes, starting with Tea SpA, our local multi-utility, which in the Horizon project nominated by us involves the experimentation of 'blending', i.e. the mixing, in a segment of the methane pipeline, fueled by Tea itself, and the use of a new boiler connected to the district heating network. More generally, in the strategy adopted by the Province of Mantua, together with private companies, there are projects linked to the value chain (production, storage, distribution and consumption), with the endowment of a so-called 'Hydrogen Energy Plan' starter. The foreseeable benefits today are both environmental, i.e. decarbonisation and saving of CO2 in the atmosphere, and energy independence, while the more properly economic ones are to be evaluated in the medium term, i.e. when the final production price will be stabilized after the numerous investments have been made, all of public origin. This economic convenience is estimated in 2030. Recalling that any use of green hydrogen is capable of generating electrical and thermal energy, the priority, but certainly not exclusive, sectors are focused on heavy transport, i.e. trucks, ships and trains, and on the particularly energy-intensive industry called ' hard to abate' such as iron and steel, chemistry, mechanics and other important manufacturers. However, there are already Italian and European experiments aimed at applications that refer to other types of use”.

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Hydrogen Valley: production in Mantua
The future "Hydrogen Valley" of Mantua, the second in Italy after Bolzano, aims to produce more than 1.500 tons of hydrogen a year from renewable sources, thus avoiding the emission of more than 14.000 tons a year CO2

Can the direct economic benefits for the user companies be estimated?
"Not yet, if we refer to the standardization of applications, and the full maturation of the market, but this quantification is one of the objectives contained in the various development programs of this energy transition".

Will methane systems need to be significantly modified?
“It depends on what type of natural gas plants are meant: if we are referring to the replacement of natural gas pipeline networks with hydrogen pipelines, the assumption is that there are dedicated boilers or heat pumps; if we refer to blending, we aim to obtain mixing percentages that can also be supported by current and normal gas boilers, obtaining in any case an important saving of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere”.

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Hydrogen Valley: Carlo Bottani is the President of the Italian Province of Mantua
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Will there be a need for training support?
“Obviously yes, both for the engineering part and for the middle management and for the operators of the production and distribution plants. The opening of the Faculty of 'Green Chemistry' in Mantua was recently announced, with an important chapter dedicated to hydrogen, promoted by the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (already present since 2018 in the city of the Gonzagas with the degree course in 'Computer Engineering' and with the 'Tourism Management' course, ed), while for the other training modules dedicated study paths are being defined with the training centers and companies involved, even simply for the management of the obligatory related safety plans…".

Do you foresee a positive impact on employment?
“Certainly, and it will be a quality occupation: jobs linked to the need for training and qualification courses as specialized technicians. It is still difficult, at this stage, to estimate the numbers, given the too recent start of the establishment of a mature market".

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Hydrogen Valley: the port of Valdaro in Mantua
The Port of Valdaro, located in the city of the Gonzagas, the heart of the future "Hydrogen Valley", foresees a connection to the Mantua-Monselice railway line and this favors the exchange of goods between the different modes of transport (road-iron-water)

Will Mantua offer itself as a reference model for other territories?
"Mantua was the major beneficiary of the tender 'Production of green hydrogen in abandoned areas', meaning the redevelopment of reused industrial areas, and other areas are included in the further and subsequent phases of our 'Hydrogen Valley', having various areas in the province post-industrial on which to carry out projects related to hydrogen. At the moment, the 'Hydrogen Valley' of Mantua, in its planning, is the largest and most complete, as an articulation of the value chain, in Italy, as well as among the most important at European level. To date, from the sixty million already defined, between investments of public and private funds, we estimate that we will arrive, with related activities and related projects, at over 100 million euros of investments in such an important asset of the energy transition and carbon neutrality…”.

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The event "The energy transition in Mantua: Repower EU, the role of renewable gases and Hydrogen Valley"

Hydrogen Valley: the presentation in Mantua
The Mantua “Hydrogen Valley” project was officially launched at the Casa del Mantegna, in the presence of the President of the Province, Carlo Bottani, the Councilor for the Environment of the Municipality, Andrea Murari, the President of the Sapio Group, Alberto Dossi, and the President of Renovo Bioeconomy and Vice President of Renhive, Stefano Arvati