Interview by Francesco Bottino (original version in Italian language available at: https://hydronews.it/dal-metano-ai-green-gas-ce-sempre-piu-idrogeno-nel-business-di-pietro-fiorentini-2/)
Pietro Fiorentini is one of the major and historical players in Oil & Gas industry, a sector that has often been judged to be “traditionalist” – or misjudged, like in this case, since the Group has been one of the first to rearrange its business so as to be prepared for the energy transition.
Founded over 80 years ago and based in Arcugnano (Vicenza), today Pietro Fiorentini counts 2,400 employees over 30 international locations and has a worldwide reach in terms of design and development of components, systems and services for pressure control, measurement and odorisation of gas, or better said gases including hydrogen.
“Our strategy is strongly oriented towards energy transition: we look at Power-to-gas technologies and renewable sources such as biomethane and hydrogen, the latest in particular is a topic in which we already have working solutions thanks to the participation in two important UK projects” explains Giorgio Barbareschi, Marketing & Communication Manager of the Group.
Max Ambrosi, Pietro Fiorentini’s Global Marketing Portfolio Leader Downstream & Retail, retraces the most recent steps of the corporate business evolution: “The Group has always been focused on natural gas, which is the most sustainable among fossil fuels, especially if correctly handled and transported. Recently, we have seen a growing interest in new clean fuels, supported by the evolution of the regulatory and political framework. This is the starting point of our projects, aimed to explore new green molecules, such as biomethane and hydrogen“. Regarding hydrogen, Ambrosi adds that “the last 18 months have seen a very strong acceleration, like never before”.
This is a trend that Pietro Fiorentini obviously does not intend to ignore, but the opposite: “Our mission could be summarised by the sentence paving the way to renewables, to say that we aim to build the road to renewable energy for our stakeholders” assures Matteo Cazzola, Hydrogen Project Coordinator of Pietro Fiorentini. “In this field we are working in two main areas with specific working group: the first focused on green gas value chains, while the second on green gas networks”.
Stefano Lillia, Global Portfolio Manager for Green Gas Technologies at Pietro Fiorentini, dives more into the matter: “Regarding the value chain of green gases, we think that natural gas, biomethane and hydrogen have to be managed synergically rather than individually. Power-to-methane is a clear example: the surplus of renewable electricity is transformed into green hydrogen, converted in turn to renewable methane – which can be easily transported to final consumers through existing networks. In this way, natural gas and hydrogen coexist synergically, the former acting as an enabler to the development of the latter. Furthermore, we believe that also CO2 capture, storage and reuse technologies will have a significant development in the near future”. The general approach involves looking at the market very carefully, so as to identify its evolutionary lines: “We try to find and study promising niches in order to be ready when they develop”.
As for green gas networks, the company focuses on three areas. The first concerns systems for exploiting gases other than natural gas, “which include, for example, the hydrogen pressure reduction stations that we have supplied to the British H21 project of Northern Gas Network, and the hydrogen injection stations that we are starting to propose to the market”.
The second relates to grid readiness: “We try to understand how much hydrogen the network can currently manage. In this segment we are active throughout the supply chain: we want to support infrastructure operators into enabling an efficient and safe use of hydrogen. We analyse rubbers, metals, measurement instruments, gaskets. We have already carried out tests in cooperation with Politecnico of Milan, but also in the field through various European and Italian projects: for example, our regulators were present in both mix tests carried out in Italy by Snam, and we tested our ultrasonic flow meter in Netherlands with methane-hydrogen mixtures from 5% to 30%”.
To date – assure the managers of Pietro Fiorentini – our regulation instruments can be used with 10% H2 mixture up to 16 bar, a pressure that is higher than the typical range of distribution networks from 20mbar to 12 bar (while transmission is from 30 to 80 bar instead). Now higher hydrogen content and higher pressures will be tested and we will work in the same direction also with measurement instruments tests, “that Pietro Fiorentini will be able to carry out in-house thanks to a new laboratory at Arcugnano headquarters”.
Last but not least, the third segment concerns network efficiency: “We study the evolution of gas networks in order to develop solutions that optimise the use of resources, while reducing energy and environmental impact of processes”. Pietro Fiorentini’s commitment in the hydrogen sector is therefore already consolidated and articulated on several fronts, geographically too: “In Italy we contributed to the creation of the latest H2IT report, while in Europe we are part of the Clean Hydrogen Alliance. We do not just look at the Old Continent scenario. We appeal to all global markets, both those where we are already present in the hydrocarbon industry, and those in which we see good development opportunities”.