One of the first Italian Hydrogen Valley (HV@ENEA Casaccia) will be built at the ENEA Research Center of Casaccia, near Rome. It will be a small citadel where to realize a set of hi-tech infrastructures for research, innovation, experimentation and validation of different technologies for the production, storage, distribution and use of hydrogen, pure or mixed with natural gas, for applications in the energy, transport, industry and residential sectors. It is intended to cover the different areas of development, from basic research on less mature technologies (e.g. innovative electrolyzers, such as PEM, anionic membrane and high temperature electrolyzers) to the validation, in a representative environment, of the proposed solutions, from the characterization of individual prototypes to the realization of an integrated full-scale demonstration, investing the entire chain from production to end uses.

Ultimately, the Hydrogen Demo Valley is identified as a hydrogen ecosystem that can act as an “incubator” of technologies, components, products and services related to the industrial supply chain of hydrogen as an enabling technology for the energy transition and decarbonization of the energy system. An example of best-practice to be replicated in similar and/or analogous realities, such as: production sites and industrial districts, isolated energy communities (islands and/or mountain communities), etc.

Figure 1 – HV @ ENEA Casaccia general diagram [7]
Specifically, photovoltaic systems will be installed on the roofs of parking lots and on the roofs of some buildings to power a 200 kWe electrolyzer for the production of “green” hydrogen to be sent in pure form or mixed with natural gas in the respective pipelines. Innovative systems for hydrogen production (solar reforming, high-temperature electrolysis, etc.) will be identified and implemented, also connected to the gas network. The final use applications will consist, for the use of mixtures, in boilers of different power, in a microturbine and in fuel cells of different size and technology. A Hydrogen Refuelling Station (HRS) will be built as a hub for the mobility of people and goods inside and outside the center, and applications will be developed for the production of heat and electricity, for storage and conversion into sustainable fuels (e.g. synthetic methane or other fuels).

A real hydrogen transport and distribution network (pipelines of pure hydrogen and blending with natural gas) will be developed with the aim of testing different technologies and operational solutions, aimed on the one hand to bring together supply and demand, and on the other hand to offer research and development and engineering services to industrial players in the sector and induced interested to test and validate on a significant scale and in a holistic environment, technologies, components and systems.

The entire infrastructure will be equipped with advanced sensors and a centralized data acquisition, management and control system. The main operating parameters will be acquired, analyzed and processed, both for the integrated management of the Hydrogen Demo Valley and for the historicization and categorization of data and information.

Finally, also thanks to the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the CNVVF in October 2021, pre-normative studies will be carried out in the context of the Hydrogen Demo Valley in order to address in a systematic and structural way the aspects related to safety, permitting and social acceptability.

Figure 2 – Rendered view of the hydrogen fueling station (HRS) for hydrogen vehicles (ENEA) [7].