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Green hydrogen innovation in Sicily: Enel Green Power’s new project


According to the World Energy Outlook 2021 study by the International Energy Agency, the investment in renewable energies must triple in order to achieve the energy transition by 2050. This estimate, together with the agreements signed at the Glasgow Climate Summit to eliminate coal and reduce the use of fossil fuels, highlighting the importance of clean energies in the current scenario

In this regard, green hydrogen is one of the most promising scientific developments of our times because it is considered the only 100% sustainable form of hydrogen. However, in order to be green and clean, hydrogen needs to be fed by 100% renewable power – and promoting investment in renewable energies requires specialized innovative projects.

That is the reason why Enel Green Power is betting on green hydrogen with the launch of its new project, NextHy. “We are inaugurating an industrial platform to develop, test and scale new, highly efficient, flexible, and cost-effective green hydrogen solutions to decarbonize hard-to-abate industrial sectors”, states Nicola Rossi, Head of Innovation for Enel Global Power Generation.

NextHy: a new road to worldwide green power

Enel Green Power is Enel’s subsidiary at the forefront of building and testing innovative solutions that boost the energy transition process. As Rossi says, “At Enel Green Power we are leveraging innovation, fostering the ecosystem to accelerate the energy transition towards a greener and more sustainable future”. To do this, they are celebrating the birth of NextHy: an innovative project with many moving parts, including a unique infrastructure where a cutting-edge technology testing lab and commercial green hydrogen production plant are combined in a center of excellence on green hydrogen in Sicily, Italy.

The green hydrogen laboratory has been configured as a side stream to a full-scale commercial electrolysis plant. It will be connected to the grid and integrated with a pre-existing wind farm to reflect the activity of a full-scale plant. The lab will allow the team to validate the project on an industrial scale in a commercial environment that operates all the current and future technologies for green hydrogen generation, storage and transportation. It will also be integrated with the electricity system and renewables, thus profiting from the hydrogen produced and sold to industrial offtakers.  

By creating this innovative facility, EGP allows many small and large companies to work together towards a single goal: reducing the cost of green hydrogen technology. Not only will hydrogen be produced, stored and transferred in an industrial-scale environment, but it will also be sold to industrial companies, creating a new source of revenue. “We are working to build a unique infrastructure in Sicily capable of connecting technology providers, industrial partners, system integrators, research centers, venture capitalists and startups from all over the world. An ecosystem which aims to accelerate the development of green hydrogen production technologies”, explains Ernesto Ciorra, Head of Innovability® at Enel. 


Sicily as an innovation and technology center

The initiative is located in Carlentini, Sicily, 30 kilometers from the Catania Innovation Hub, where Enel will scout and host startups. NextHy will not only foster engagement and development within an ecosystem of research centers, universities, startups, large companies, and VCs, but also host webinars and dissemination events with experts and stakeholders, as well as training courses to build the new skills we will need in the future.

“Just like Silicon Valley is the ‘place to be’ for digital technologies, the Etna Valley is turning into the Energy Valley: the best place for the global energy revolution. NextHy stems from the spirit of Open Innovability®”, mentions Ciorra, who constantly inspires individuals to create a world where facing industry challenges and testing ideas turns innovation into reality. 

Enel is continuously working on this initiative, which is unique on an international level. NextHy’s infrastructure is specifically designed to connect the innovation ecosystem with different stakeholders in order to promote technology transfer and accelerate the commercial development of innovative solutions capable of reducing the cost of green hydrogen. As Ciorra concludes, “at Enel, this is our way of facing climate change: an open approach that fosters innovative technology to reach fully sustainable energy production”.