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The hydrogen development policy in Piedmont explained at the Novara meeting


Confindustria, local companies, and the Piedmont Region for sustainable cities and communities


Giacomini was invited to the meeting organized by Confindustria Novara, Vercelli, and Valsesia on March 23 in Novara, where the Piedmont Region explained the strategic plans to quickly become a Hydrogen Valley, an advanced center for research and manufacturing of hydrogen-based technologies.

Julien Nyst, Giacomini Benelux’s General Manager and Head of Hydrogen Development for the Group, explained the achievements and future plans of Giacomini research, with the new hydrogen catalytic combustion boilers suitable for residential use and integrated solutions with an electrolyzer, hydrogen storage, and fuel cells.

"We have already made many steps forward in the field of hydrogen for residential use,” Nyst explained. “As a multinational Group, we bring the experience of other countries already involved in the energy transition, and we can collaborate with Italian or Regional Authorities to start representative pilot projects. Of course, the presence of the parent company in Piedmont can facilitate the strategic objectives of the Piedmont Region on this very hot topic, not only for environmental sustainability but also for politics and economics.”

A long time ago, Giacomini had already identified hydrogen as an effective solution to contribute to the de-carbonization of the planet, and 20 years ago, it had started to develop a hydrogen boiler with a catalytic reaction. The Piedmont Region immediately turned their attention to this solution, giving visibility to the project during the 2006 Olympics at the Casa Italia expo. 

Many increasingly advanced prototypes were installed over the years of development of this technology. Among them is the installation of eight hydrogen boilers for heating two school buildings in the Orkney Islands as part of the BIG HIT project. This is a representative experience for the strategic use of hydrogen to implement a fully replicable and beautifully integrated model for local production, storage, transportation, and end-use for heating, power generation, and mobility. 

Today, Giacomini is committed to reviewing its boiler entirely to enhance performance and make it more affordable for a mass-market application. In collaboration with Politecnico di Milano and its specialists in catalysts, the Company is developing a new 25 kW boiler with instant hot water production. This boiler will be designed to operate on a hydrogen network with similar characteristics to the current natural gas network.

"The Netherlands," Nyst says "has already decided to remove the use of natural gas in home heating by 2050. We are talking about 7 million homes connected to the natural gas network today, and the goal is to replace at least 500 thousand of them with hydrogen boilers by 2030!

But there is more than the replacement market,” Nyst continues. “To allow new residential constructions that do not overload the already saturated existing electricity grid, we are developing ‘hydrogen energy buffer’ solutions. This is the Innovahub project, which includes an electrolyzer, hydrogen storage, a fuel cell, hydrogen boilers and an energy flow management system to communicate with the grid and meet its needs. Energy in the form of hydrogen is stored when grid power is in excess and electricity and heat are supplied to the building when grid power is lacking.”


Giacomini's mission - as consistently demonstrated in the first 70 years in business celebrated last year - is to continue manufacturing in Piedmont. 

New investments in manufacturing and assembly will be needed to produce the hydrogen boilers and all other plant accessories at a rate that can meet market needs. The operational, work, and development benefits will be felt in Piedmont. Adequate financial, authorization, and administrative support will be required for the significant investments needed for this major industrial transformation (manufacturing at the highest standards in terms of safety and efficiency). It is essential that the Piedmont Region can network well to connect all the development aspects: access to funding (such as those related to mission 2 of the PNRR – Recovery and Resilience National Plan - on green innovation and ecological transition), partnerships, regulations, advanced research at universities, and training of human resources for specific know-how. 

“Also for the new hydrogen technologies, Giacomini will continue according to tradition,” Nyst explains. “Manufacturing in Piedmont, consulting and organized distribution all over the world."