28 July 2022

Decarbonisation, Assotermica: "A multi-technology approach is needed. Hydrogen will play a key role"

At the event "Hydrogen for residential heating. An alternative way to the transition to sustainability" at MCE, the role of the heating technology sector in the energy transition process was explored.

The thermal equipment sector plays a very responsible role in the decarbonisation process of the industry. The guidelines on energy saving recently published by the European Commission as part of RepowerEU, in fact, have indicated the abandonment by 2029 of fossil fuel boilers not integrated with renewable sources as one of the paths to be taken on a Community scale, and hydrogen as the energy vector that can guide this process. Assotermica (an association of manufacturers of equipment and components for thermal systems federated by Anima Confindustria) therefore finds itself supporting companies in this transition and sees a multi-technological approach, which enhances the use of hydrogen, as the best strategy to adopt.

"As Assotermica, we firmly believe that the most sustainable way to achieve decarbonisation goals is to exploit all the options available to us," said Assotermica president Alberto Montanini at the opening of the event held at MCE - Mostra Convegno Expocomfort on 28 June. "Heating technologies running on hydrogen and other renewable gases are ready, and with them we have the great opportunity to be able to exploit our gas infrastructure - among the most extensive and capillary in the world - to exploit the enormous potential of clean fuels," said Montanini, recalling that about 85% of homes in Italy are heated with gas systems, for about 17 million boilers. "Although the electrification of consumption will be one of the guidelines for the next few years, it is unthinkable to define decarbonisation programmes that do not take these numbers into account, and above all the fact that today's appliances are already designed and conceived to be fuelled with increasing blends of hydrogen.

During the conference, Paolo Conti, researcher and lecturer in industrial technical physics at the University of Pisa, presented the study "Dynamic and seasonal energy and environmental performance of thermal generators, including non-conventional ones, in reference residential buildings", which analysed the dynamic and seasonal performance of different heating technologies in order to assess the possible contribution of various technological alternatives to the synergic achievement of the objectives of energy sustainability, environmental protection and cost-effectiveness. The study also highlighted the role of hybrid technologies in the future of building energy. "This type of generator," the paper concludes, "manages to combine the advantages of heat pump solutions and combustion heat generators, achieving simultaneous benefits on all three indicators (environmental, energy and economic). The use of mixtures enriched with green hydrogen (G222, 23% by volume) allows a further 10% saving in CO2 compared to natural gas combustion, while also reducing NOx emissions'.

The conference also saw an interesting speech by engineer Valentina D'Acunti, head of Assotermica's 'Gas boilers for civil uses' group, who illustrated the technical activity currently underway on hydrogen-powered appliances (regulatory work and open tables).
The event, organised by Assotermica, was also an opportunity to present two case histories of hydrogen-ready boilers by two important companies in the sector, which are a tangible demonstration of how the industry has already equipped itself and invested in gas appliances running partly or 100% on hydrogen.

The event then concluded with a round table that saw the participation of important stakeholders in the gas supply chain such as CIG, EHI, Italgas, Proxigas and Assotermica itself, who discussed the challenge of climate change and the role of operators in an increasingly integrated and challenging multi-energy system.