The Slovenia Times

North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley officially launched

EnergyScience & Education
A hydrogen charging station. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Partners in the North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley project from Slovenia, Croatia and Italy have signed an agreement to develop 17 pilot projects in the next six years with the aim of producing 5,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen a year, as the €700 million project with 37 partners got under way on 26 September.

North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley plans to create the entire chain from the production of hydrogen by means of renewable electricity through storage and distribution of the energy product to the final users.

The pilot projects are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the steel, cement and glass industries, and in transport. The overarching aim is to create supply and demand for hydrogen as a competitive energy source.

Out of the total of €700 million, €300 million each will be invested in projects in Slovenia and Croatia, and €100 million in projects in the Italian autonomous region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Environment, Climate and Energy Ministry State Secretary Tina Seršen said the project was important for Slovenia because it promised a new, green future in areas where coal would have to be phased out.

In addition, hydrogen "appears to be a promising or necessary solution for the decarbonisation of energy-intensive industry in Slovenia", she added.

Tomaž Štokelj, the CEO of the power utility Holding Slovenske Elektrarne (HSE), one of the partners in the project, said the Šalek Valley in northern Slovenia would be the main point of production of green hydrogen in the country.

A floating 150 Mw solar power plant is planned on Dužmirje Lake, close to the Šoštanj coal-fired power plant, and the electricity produced there would be used to produce hydrogen in Šoštanj.

Production is planned to start in 2027, before the scheduled closure of unit 6 of the power plant. This will contribute to the restructuring of the local economy, but the solar plant will produce only 7-8% of the energy currently produced in Šoštanj.

The investment cycle also involves other solar, wind and pumped-storage hydro power plants, while other investments by HSE are also focused on the green transition, Štokelj said, noting the important role of hydrogen in this process.

"We will have to abandon gas. It will be replaced by hydrogen and we also see potential in hydrogen as storage of surplus electricity produced in the summer months, when the production in solar power plants is higher, for the winter months."

The financing plan for the project has not yet been finalised and additional subsidies from the EU or the state are expected in addition to private investments.

If there are no subsidies or if the projects are not sufficiently profitable, there is a safeguard in the agreement that enables the investments to be made on a smaller scale, Štokelj said.

€25 million will be chipped in by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, a public-private partnership supporting research and innovation in hydrogen technologies in Europe.

Its representative Antonio Aguilo Rullan said that the partnership had so far allocated €200 million for six hydrogen valley projects. The North Adriatic Hydrogen Valley is one of the largest and was also rated very well due to its cross-border dimension, he added.

Rullan said that there were two operational hydrogen valleys in Europe, one in Mallorca, Spain, and one in the Netherlands, while around 60 more were in various stages of development.


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