„Water is the carbon of the future“ – Jules Verne had already predicted a development in 1874 that is now reality in South Tyrol.

The hydrogen centre of Bolzano, located in the premises of the Institute for Innovative Technologies (IIT) was inaugurated on Thursday 5 June 2014. The centre hosts Bolzano’s hydrogen refuelling station, which produces “green hydrogen” by electrolysis from renewable energy sources. The daily production capacity is sufficient for 15 – 20 buses or a few hundred cars.The official inauguration was followed by a well attended workshop. Full programme available here.

1. The meaning of the hydrogen technology:

Hydrogen technology has been developed to provide concrete answers to some of the most pressing issues of our time: problems such as climate change, toxic emissions, dependence on imports of fossil fuels and the rising cost thereof, and the lack of high-quality jobs require long-term responses.

Hydrogen as an energy carrier can store locally generated renewable energy, as well as be used as clean fuel in zero-emission and low-noise fuel cell electric vehicles.

The European Union has also recognized the importance of the hydrogen technology to reduce the dependence on imports of fossil fuels and identified this sector as one of those five areas (along with biotechnology, electronics, aeronautics, medical technology) that are the most appropriate to create high-quality jobs.

2. The hydrogen centre South Tyrol

For the aforementioned reasons, South Tyrol decided in 2006 to initiate the development of this innovative technology here. For this purpose the hydrogen centre South Tyrol was planned with the support of the EU through the European Regional Development Fund ERDF. This was made possible, among other things, through a close partnership with the Brennerautobahn AG, which provides the necessary area and the buildings for the hydrogen centre.

In the hydrogen centre so-called “green hydrogen” is produced by electrolysis from renewable energy sources. This is stored in gaseous form and thanks to a own gas station, fuel cell vehicles can be refuelled. The daily production capacity is sufficient for 15 – 20 buses or a few hundred cars.

Finally, the hydrogen centre has another important function: “technology to touch”. Only when the population is given the opportunity to understand a technical change and to comprehend the background, they will support it. For this reason, a convention centre for meetings, congresses and knowledge sharing was established in the demonstration plant for the production and distribution of hydrogen; in addition guided tours for interested people are offered. Numerous requests, even before the official opening, by individuals, businesses, schools, universities and national and international delegations confirm that the interest in this technology is tremendously growing, and that South Tyrol has set a right step into the future.

3. Uses and applications of hydrogen

Simultaneously with the realization of the hydrogen centre also the first projects on the use of hydrogen in the mobility sector and in stationary applications were started.

The fuel cell buses of the European CHIC project are the beginning of an emission-free mobility in public transport, five of which are in regular service in Bolzano since fall 2013.

Under the project HyFIVE, from July 2014 also the first FCEVs for private customers will be available in South Tyrol.

Thanks to these two projects, South Tyrol succeeded in positioning itself at the forefront with prominent partners such as London, Hamburg, Oslo, Copenhagen, Aarau, Milan, Munich, Stuttgart and Innsbruck and in bringing already € 10 million from European funds to South Tyrol.

Picture: Paolo Duiella President A22, Walter Pardatscher CEO A22, Arno Kompatscher Governor of South Tyrol, Luis Durnwalder Ex Governor of South Tyrol, (Bernhard Tilg Governor Deputy Tyrol), Luigi Spagnolli Mayor Bolzano, Carlo Costa Director A22

Source: IIT , website here (German and Italian)