Italian Country Manager, Stefano, spoke about Hive’s green hydrogen future in Italy at the La Strategia Europea dell’idrogeno conference

Italian Country Manager, Stefano, spoke about Hive’s green hydrogen future in Italy at the La Strategia Europea dell’idrogeno conference

A few months ago, our Italian Country Manager, Stefano Salerno, attended the Strategia Europea Dell’idrogeno conference in Italy. The event brought together some of the biggest names in renewable energy and green hydrogen to discuss the future of clean energy in the country.

About the event

Stefano had the opportunity to talk at the event and was the representative for Hive, sharing our vision for green hydrogen development in the country. During the conference, Stefano discussed the challenges of introducing the new and innovative technology to the country, Hive’s passion, and plans for H2 development, and our commitment to investment and community support.

You can watch Stefano’s talk below and head over to YouTube for the full two-hour conference recording. The video is spoken in Italian, but if you wish to read the discussion in English, we’ve included a breakdown below the video.

Watch Stefano’s discussion about green hydrogen (Italian)

English translation of Stefano’s speech 

“Thank you very much for the invitation. I am here to represent the Hive energy group and the projects we are developing; I am the Country Manager for Hive in Italy.

The Hive Energy Group is now one of the most successful companies worldwide in the field of renewable energy and the circular economy. It is divided into three different business lines: photovoltaic, green hydrogen and green ammonia and there is a venture capital part focusing on the circular economy.

I heard so many speeches today. Many based on what is the current state of the art. I think we need to remember where we were twenty years ago, when I was graduating in mechanical engineering, at the University of Ferrara, and when photovoltaics was used for space application.

We brought it [PV technology] from space to the earth because of the so-called ‘levelized cost’ of electricity. To speak of is futureproof, is the KPI, therefore the fundamental thing to understand if an investment makes sense or not, and how much it costs me to produce one kilowatt hour of electricity. At the time costs were very high for photovoltaics because the main component was silicon, meaning the panel was priced twenty times higher than it is today. For green hydrogen, obviously we are not talking about grey or blue hydrogen, the levelized cost is 80% of the cost of electricity.

Obviously, hydrogen is higher because the cost to produce electricity is high, the same thing applies for green ammonia. I don’t know if anyone knows, but the levelized cost of ammonia, which is the cost needed to produce 1 kg of green ammonia nowadays, is quite high with this crazy surge in gas. It has reached a €1,000 per tonne. 

What does this mean? That producing green ammonia today is very expensive unless you go to very high scale volumes, where you are able to lower this metric. A study has just come out which may help you understand where we are at the state of the art with green ammonia; the photovoltaic industry uses PV systems and  engineers use pvgGIS to estimate the producibility of electricity, wind it uses an Atlas which has been developed over the last decades and is already available. As for green ammonia, it was created through the use of matlab software recently. So, now there is a map, for the first time an atlas of green ammonia that tells you where it is convenient nowadays and how to produce green ammonia at a lower cost. The analysts, who must obviously be taken with a grain of salt, say that by the end of 2050, regardless of the carbon tax and precisely what it will cost to produce hydrogen and green ammonia, China could once again be the country who will be able to produce it [green ammonia] at the lowest cost.

The Hive Group and its founding partner, together with 21 of us [Country Managers] around the world, were among the first to invest in green ammonia three years ago by starting the creation of a 1.5 GW electrolyser with about 2.5 GW of renewable source attached in South Africa. The advantage of green ammonia is that ammonia has always existed as a sector mainly used for pharmaceutical fertilisers and other textile uses.

Hydrogen is a form of energy and an ‘energy carrier’ that can be blanded in a boiler. Here too there are various theories; it can act as a battery, it can act as a thermal, it can precisely act as electricity in a turbine. 

In this group here, one hundred years ago, they were discussing electrolysis. We’re going back, we’re going forward to go back. So, I think that without green hydrogen made from electrolysis we wouldn’t be here today talking about this thing technology of the future.

The truth is that we are now as we were twenty years ago on photovoltaics. We are all taking a big bet for those who believe in us. This bet would most likely pay dividends to investors and operators in the sector. 

In regard to the PV in Italy being developed, some of the 250 GW launched requests for project connection are not all serious operators who have strong balance sheets, who know what they are doing. Unfortunately where there is a lot of interest, there are also many speculators and therefore many are tyring the so-called ‘coin toss’. This damages the industry a little because for serious operators who have long-term industrial plans and who are not speculators, who in any case believe that  is a huge risk to take land that could be full of constraints.

I’m often shown graphs by my Hive colleagues and already Italy is behind. I think Hungary installed less power than us in 2022.  From 2021 to 2022 there was a small acceleration order of magnitude. In those two years of covid, and post covid,  in Germany, as an example, they have built more renewables – 6 or 7 GW a year. We are really behind.

I have been abroad for ten years now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we went back to 2010 at Salva Alcoa [Italian law] On the one hand, we need an acceleration, but at the same time advice for our politicians is not to do things in a neurotic way. It is true that we are behind but we must not create damage by creating what ruined the photovoltaic at the time in 2010 – when in two months it went from 2 GW to10 GW built. 

There are many reasons why we must do things well. Italy being ‘made in Italy’ can mean that when we do things we do them really well, including when we do important infrastructure changes. Let’s take our time. Let’s think. Let’s do something thoughtful and I’m sure for and for Italy, this will be the springboard. We also have opportunities in the PNRR [Recovery and Resilience Plan] so let’s take our experience and make the most of this opportunity. 

In short, my point of view is that with this knowledge we can relaunch the entire Italian economy.”

Watch the full recorded event (Italian)