South Tyrol: leading the way
With over 965 hydroelectric plants – of which only 20 have storage capacity – and numerous photovoltaic systems, South Tyrol is ideally placed to establish hydrogen infrastructures to store renewable energy. Hydropower and photovoltaic systems do not necessarily provide electricity when we need it, but rather when the weather permits, meaning that a lot of power remains unused: hydroelectric plants reduce production at night due to a lack of customers, so water flows unused. Continuous production with the use of excess capacity for the production of hydrogen increases production capacity and increases the economic efficiency of power generation while using hydrogen as a substitute for fossil energy sources. We are thus not only less dependent on imports, the dictates of price and the so-called “energy weapon”, the use of oil and gas as a means of political and economic pressure: we are also gradually converting mobility to the use of low noise and emission-free electric vehicles, with important benefits in terms of improved air, health and quality of life for the people in our traffic-ridden land. South Tyrol as a land to enjoy – a point that is not just important for tourists.
South Tyrol is the first region in Italy to open a hydrogen centre and is thus one of Europe’s most innovative regions in this regard. When the first fuel cell models appear on the mass market between 2015 and 2018, South Tyrol will have the necessary know-how and infrastructures ready.
The EU has identified the hydrogen sector as one of the five areas (along with biotechnology, electronics, aeronautics and medical technology) that are best suited to creating high-quality jobs. It is therefore making €22 billion available for projects in these five areas, money that South Tyrol can put to good use in constructing infrastructures and expanding research and development.
The advantages of hydrogen technology for South Tyrol at a glance:
• EU funding for research and development: the IIT has in recent years attracted several million euros of EU funding to South Tyrol for hydrogen projects, thereby creating highly qualified jobs – an important factor for our region in times of crisis.
• New opportunities for the local economy: several South Tyrolean companies have in recent years become active in the hydrogen area. This innovative developing technology therefore offers the local economy new opportunities and fields of activity.
• Hydrogen as an energy store: locally produced, not directly used renewable energy (night-time electricity, photovoltaic) can be stored as hydrogen.
• Hydrogen is a clean fuel: low noise, emission-free electric vehicles fitted with fuel cells increase the quality of life for the population and reduce the incidence of asthma, allergies etc.
• Local, independent and sustainable: locally produced hydrogen reduces dependence on imports of fossil fuels and breaks the fossil energy price diktat/monopoly.
• Added value for South Tyrol: the entire added value of the hydrogen production chain remains in the local economy, thus reducing the flow of financial resources to oil-producing countries.
Hydrogen technology not only provides a basis for future-oriented health and energy policies for the local economy, young people and future generations, but also creates valuable jobs in terms of sustainable development.