An Italian hydrogen-based industrial value chain for a sustainable mobility system in Valcamonica
About this good practice
H2iseO Hydrogen Valley is a project implemented by FNM, FERROVIENORD and Trenord, the Lombardy Region LPT providers for railway passenger transport, which aim to decarbonise public transport services and foster the transition towards a more sustainable transport system. It is developed in the Valcamonica area. It is developed in the Valcamonica area, an important industrial pre-alpine valley in eastern Lombardy and the gateway to the 2026 Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics. This highly innovative project spans the social, economic, geographical, and environmental dimensions of mobility, by developing an economic and industrial district based on hydrogen to enable and support the energy conversion of the area and total decarbonisation of the main components of LPT. The project is developed in three phases. The first phase concerns the arrival of the first six hydrogen-powered electric trains, which is built by Alstom and delivered by 2023. Between 2021 and 2023, a first hydrogen production plant is built at the Iseo station. The second phase will see the arrival of further eight electric trains, thus completing the replacement of the entire fleet with totally green vehicles. It is also planned to build one or two more hydrogen production plants in the Brescia and/or Edolo area by 2025. During the third phase, it will be possible to use the hydrogen produced by the plants for other vehicles besides trains, starting with public transport and the 40 buses operated in Valcamonica.
H2iseO project is funded by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The investment for the supply of 6 hydrogen-powered electric trains, with an option for the supply of a further eight electric trains of the same type, was approved in December 2020 for a total amount of more than € 160 million.
Evidence of success
The project includes the introduction of hydrogen-powered fleets: 14 trains and 40 buses. which will enable the complete decarbonisation of the Brescia-Iseo-Edolo railway line (in Valcamonica) the decarbonisation of part of the bus service in Valcamonica. The project also provides 3 hydrogen production, storages and distribution plants in Iseo. To date, there is no delay: in 2023 the first hydrogen trains will be delivered for trial runs, in 2024 they will be used for commercial service.
Potential for learning or transfer
The potential of this project can be appreciated from two perspectives. Firstly, the technological improvement, as H2iseO Hydrogen Valley can offer an evaluation of other alternative ways of producing «low carbon» hydrogen less dependent on electricity use. Secondly, the reduction of renewable electricity cost, because thanks to the project there will be a progressive increase in the presence of renewables that will allow a reduction in the average price of electricity at certain times of the day. This potential can be easily replicated in similar realities. Other Italian regions already have projects on H2 with peculiarities different from Iseo but common factors such as being areas already designated for industrial activities and already equipped with the following infrastructural characteristics: connection to the electricity grid, water resources adequate to the production of hydrogen, connection to the gas network, access to the road network.