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A green hydrogen hub in Venice: the collaboration between the North Adriatic Sea Port Authority, Sapio and Hydrogen Park

A green hydrogen hub in Porto Marghera’s port area replicable in other large, energy-intensive regional industrial districts: this is the core of the Memorandum of Understanding signed today by the North Adriatic Sea Port Authority (ADSPMAS), the Sapio Group and Hydrogen Park.

At this specific point in time, the energy transition towards industrial decarbonisation and zero-emission transport is more strategic than ever before and the enhancement of ports as clusters combining energy production and use, industrial activities and circular economy will allow their great potential to emerge. The port ecosystem can thus be transformed into a new clean energy hub marked by the integration of electrical systems, hydrogen and other low-carbon energy carriers.

The collaboration focuses on two specific projects:

– The "PORTS8" project is aimed at creating a hydrogen production centre and a roadside refuelling station in the port area of Porto Marghera (Venice). Last January the project participated in a call for proposals under the EU-funded "Horizon 2020 Green Ports" programme.

– The "SUNSHINH3" project is a candidate for inclusion among the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs) within the European hydrogen strategy that EU member states are currently defining. It is aimed at developing an innovative green ammonia distribution system to supply green hydrogen, reducing carbon dioxide emissions to zero.

The agreement aims to create a Hydrogen Valley or “hydrogen cluster” in Venice’s wider metropolitan area to reconcile economic growth with social and environmental protection, in accordance with the "Sustainability Manifesto" drawn up by Confindustria Venezia – the local section of Italy’s main trade association representing manufacturing and service companies.
Today’s agreement is also in line with the strategy promoted by the Veneto Region through the project “Venezia capitale mondiale della Sostenibilità” (literally: “Venice, World Capital of Sustainability"). The Porto Marghera area is considered to be the ideal site for both projects on account of its efficient maritime connections, ample port space and links to the national and European road, rail and energy networks.
Under the MoU, Sapio – an Italian hydrogen producer boasting almost 100 years of experience along the entire value chain and a widespread domestic network operating to top safety standards – will provide its know-how in the fields of hydrogen production, transport, distribution and end-use applications to develop solutions that can help hydrogen become established as a sustainable and safe energy carrier.

"What we do today determines the future of our country" said Alberto Dossi, President of the Sapio Group. "Important collaborations like this one with Hydrogen Park and the North Adriatic Sea Port Authority are a clear example of our commitment to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050. Sapio will contribute its experience and know-how in the fields of hydrogen production, operation of production plants, distribution through hydrogen pipelines and tube trailers, installation and management of refuelling stations, as well as importation of green hydrogen in the form of ammonia".

"Thanks to today's Memorandum of Understanding, Porto Marghera continues its path towards the green transition and the Hydrogen Park can spearhead projects for the production and distribution of green hydrogen as an energy carrier. This is the future of our territories, in keeping with the European strategy that will be implemented in Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan – said the President of the Hydrogen Park Andrea Bos. The energy transition represents a great opportunity for boosting industrial activity and employment. In this context, Hydrogen Park can act as a facilitator in helping local companies gain access to funding from the Recovery Fund and other European projects currently in place".

"The ports of the future will no longer be just places for loading and unloading goods; instead they will increasingly be incubators of technological innovation and the project launched today is a proof of that" – commented Cinzia Zincone, Special Commissioner of AdSPMAS – "Porto Marghera confirms its role as a reference hub that can support the energy transition of the logistics chain, the productive and industrial fabric and port operations in general. Started in 2014 with the conversion of a refinery into a biorefinery operated by ENI, Porto Marghera’s path towards a greener future has been confirmed by the forthcoming "Venice LNG" project for the storage and use of fuel with a low environmental impact and is now continuing, heading for a zero-emission future. To achieve that goal the Port Authority will exploit its experience in making use of EU funding opportunities and will collaborate both with Sapio and the members of the Hydrogen Park Consortium which represent Venice's productive and industrial fabric. This MoU proves, once again, that Porto Marghera is an area capable of attracting investments that can foster growth, employment and innovation for the benefit of Venice, the Veneto region and Italy at large and is a way of translating the principle of environmental sustainability into concrete actions".

The Sapio Group was established in Monza (Italy) in 1922 and operates in the field of gases for industrial, medical and homecare use in Italy and abroad – the main markets being France, Germany, Slovenia, Turkey and Spain. With a turnover of over 620 million euros and 2200 employees, it produces, develops and markets gases, innovative technologies and integrated services for the industrial sector. Sapio is an active member of Italy’s national hydrogen association H2IT and of the Clean Hydrogen Alliance. Technical gases are used extensively in manufacturing, ranging from the agro-food to the environment and energy sectors and including applications in the chemical-pharmaceutical, electronics, mechanical-metallurgical, glass and concrete industries. In the health sector, alongside the production and supply of medical gases for hospitals and other healthcare facilities, Sapio also provides medical devices and integrated home healthcare and palliative care services.

The Hydrogen Park Consortium was established on 15 July 2003 for the purpose of creating a Hydrogen Cluster in Porto Marghera. After changing its legal form in April 2005 to become a limited liability consortium (Società Consortile S.c.a.r.l. ), the Hydrogen Park has grown to be a firmly established reality and its members today include both trade associations, like Confindustria Venezia – Area Metropolitana di Venezia e Rovigo and leading companies, such as Eni, Sapio, Decal and Berengo. The first phase of the Hydrogen Park's activity (2005-2010) was primarily devoted to innovation and development in the field of stationary hydrogen applications. One of the main achievements was the Fusina Hydrogen project which involved the construction of a 16 megawatt hydrogen-fuelled power plant: built inside the Andrea Palladio coal-fired thermoelectric power plant in Fusina, it is the first example of industrial reconversion according to the circular economy principles. Since 2010, research and innovation activities related to hydrogen use have been gaining momentum in Europe, with mobility applications receiving more attention than power generation. With the support of the Veneto Region authorities, a project was designed to build a vaporetto (a Venetian public waterbus) that uses hydrogen-powered fuel cells. Named HEPIC (Hydrogen Electric Passenger VenICE Boat), the project attracted the interest of public transport operator Alilaguna and of a number of other partners and after extensive testing and fine-tuning the boat was completed and launched in December 2016.

North Adriatic Sea Port Authority

The North Adriatic Sea Port Authority (AdSPMAS) includes the ports of Venice and Chioggia and was established under Legislative Decree no. 169 of 4 August 2016. AdSPMAS is in charge of the wider Venice Lagoon Port system which, although comprising two separate ports – Venice and Chioggia – with distinctive and complementary profiles, in fact serves a single geographical, environmental, social and economic area. The North Adriatic Sea Port Authority is a non-economic public body whose tasks are to direct, plan, coordinate, promote and monitor port operations. It also carries out the maintenance of common areas and the seabed and supervises the provision of services of general interest; it manages state-owned areas and assets on exclusive terms and draws up plans for the development of the port. Moreover AdSPMAS coordinates the administrative activities of public bodies in the port area and promotes connections with the dry port and the inter-port logistic systems. Committed to increase the Port of Venice's traffic, AdSPMAS is constantly monitoring the international economic context, the current and potential markets and the state of the port infrastructure also using planning tools and guidelines issued by other public institutions, from the European Union to local authorities.