EGP and Acciaierie di Sicilia are launching a new project for the production of green hydrogen: a sustainable solution to reduce the steel industry’s high greenhouse gas emissions.
A new Enel Green Power project is taking off in Sicily that will see green hydrogen used to power heavy industry. The initiative, which is called “Sicilian Sustainable Steel”, has been launched with the company Acciaierie di Sicilia, which is part of the Alfa Acciai group, a leader in the production of steel for reinforced concrete. Acciaierie di Sicilia is Sicily’s sole steelworks plant, located in the industrial area of Catania.
The goal is to use green hydrogen to replace 30% of the natural gas currently used in the furnaces to heat the rolling mills, thereby meeting a large part of the company’s energy needs that cannot be satisfied using electricity. This is one way to significantly reduce the environmental impact of steel production. The steel industry in general is set to make up a significant part of the total demand for green hydrogen, precisely because, according to the International Energy Agency, it is currently responsible for around 7% of global carbon dioxide emissions. That is why both EGP and Acciaierie di Sicilia, now in partnership, consider it a priority for their decarbonization strategies.
Green hydrogen: sustainability and innovation
The steel industry, like the ceramics industry, is one of the economic activities for which shifting from fossil fuels to electricity is not very practical, at least at present. Nevertheless, this green hydrogen project demonstrates Acciaierie di Sicilia’s ongoing commitment to projects aimed at reducing consumption of fossil fuels.
And this is where hydrogen fits in, with a role that is complementary to electrification in decarbonizing industry in general and the steel industry in this particular case.
Naturally, hydrogen’s sustainability depends on how it is produced. In order to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the only solution is green hydrogen, which is hydrogen produced from water using an electrolyzer powered by renewable energy to separate this gas from oxygen.
And it’s hydrogen that we will supply for Acciaierie di Sicilia, thanks to a portfolio of renewable energy plants that we are developing in the region. In this way we estimate that we’ll be able to avoid the emission into the atmosphere of more than 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.
To further minimize the environmental impact and management costs of the plant, the electrolysis facility will be located right next to the steelworks.
Towards a Sicilian Hydrogen Valley
Our initiative is just part of a larger project that we’re developing together with the local authorities with the ultimate goal of creating a “Hydrogen Valley” in Sicily: a green hydrogen hub spread across the region, capable of making the island more energy self-sufficient and reducing its energy imports. Another feature of this initiative is the candidature of Sicily to host the headquarters of the National High Technology Center for Hydrogen.
What makes Sicily the ideal region for producing green hydrogen, aside from the interest and support from local institutions, is its climatic features, which are particularly suited to the development of new renewable sources such as solar and wind power.
The Enel Group already has an industrial and technological hub in Catania where we’ve created one of our Innovation Lab&Hubs, a center that includes an innovation incubator as well as labs focused on renewable energies. Also located in Catania is our photovoltaic panel factory 3Sun, which, thanks to European funds from the TANGO project, is set to be transformed into a Gigafactory that will be the largest of its kind in Europe.
So Sicily has the potential to become a major cutting-edge center for technological innovation in the field of clean energy: a model that can then be exported elsewhere, to the benefit of the energy transition.