April 19. 2024. 9:45

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Commission greenlights Italian €450 million green hydrogen scheme

The European Commission has given Italy the green light to set up a €450 million project to support integrated hydrogen and renewable energy production in brownfield sites.

The measure, financed under the Italian National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRP), is also aimed at fostering Italy’s transition to a zero-emissions economy, as envisioned by the European Green Deal.

“This €450 million scheme will enable Italy to accelerate the development of renewable hydrogen capacity, in line with the EU hydrogen strategy”, said EU Vice-President Margrethe Vestager.

“The measure will also help Italy reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels, in line with the RePowerEu plan, while ensuring that any distortions of competition are minimised”, she added.

At the start of the year, Confindustria Energia, a branch of Confindustria – the main representative organisation of Italian manufacturing and service enterprises – called for the NRP to be revised to broaden the slice of investment dedicated to the “sustainable and resilient” energy transition outlined by the REPowerEU.

This has always been the intention of the Italian government since Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took power in September. Indeed, Meloni first asked Brussels to revise the Italian REPEowerU in light of the changed geopolitical scenario and new energy supply needs.

However, the ongoing changes and underlying difficulties, primarily linked to a structural deficit in the Italian public administration, have led to a slowdown in the implementation of the NRP, which, according to the EU Commission, is not a cause for concern.

“So far, the Commission’s assessment of Italy’s progress towards implementing the Recovery and Resilience Plan has been positive. Obviously, it is very important to continue a swift and effective implementation of the Plan, both for reforms and investments”, said an EU Commission spokeswoman.

“For the moment, the implementation of the Plan is on track. We are assessing the third payment request, and we have agreed to a further extension of the extension period. We will be coming forward with our assessment of that payment request by the end of April”, she added, stressing that it is a priority to absorb the funds and turn them into “impactful products on the ground”.

With respect to concerns in Italy about the funds, Meloni spoke of an “alarmist reconstruction” by the oppositions, who have asked European Affairs Minister Raffaele Fitto to come to parliament to clarify the NRP dossier and the difficulties encountered causing the delays.

“I am not worried about the delays on the NRP, we are working a lot. I am not very convinced by the alarmist reconstruction”, Prime Minister Meloni said on the sidelines of Vinitaly in Verona.

“I do not consider (the option of) losing resources, rather the hypothesis of getting them on the ground effectively”, Meloni concluded.

(Federica Pascale | EURACTIV.it)