On June 5, 2014 at the motorway exit Bolzano Sud, the company Brenner Motorway Spa and the Institute for Technological Innovations (IIT) of Bolzano opened a plant for the production and distribution of hydrogen from renewable energy.
The medium-term objective of the project, called "H2 Südtirol", is to supply the public buses that serve the city of Bolzano. There are currently 5 buses operating on hydrogen.
The biggest challenge lies in supplying private cars: starting July the Centre will make ten cars with hydrogen fuel cells available. The goal of the Brenner motorway company is to create a distribution network capable of fully serving the routes under its responsibility, with refueling points positioned no farther than 100 km apart in order to complete the "Green Corridor" along the Munich-Modena motorway section, which will be fully equipped to supply hydrogen.
The hydrogen is produced from renewable energy sources by electrolysis and then purified, compressed and temporarily stored pressurized in tanks, which then supply the vehicles.
The Centre consists of three buildings, each having distinct functions: the first has the equipment for producing hydrogen by electrolysis; the second has areas for storage and the hydrogen tanks; and the third houses the organizational and training facilities. The hydrogen used to power the vehicles is used both in a pure state and mixed with methane.
In nominal conditions, the plant can produce 180 Nm³/h, allowing the supply of about twenty buses, or up to 800 cars with fuel cells. 1 Nm³ of hydrogen can replace approximately 0.35 litres of petrol or 0.3 litres of diesel.
The hydrogen production plant can replace approx. 525,000 litres of petrol or 440,000 litres of diesel a year, with a savings of approx. 1,200,000 kg of hazardous CO2 emissions per year.
The newly-opened facility – Italy’s first on an industrial scale – has also been designed as a "demonstration" system open to the public through guided tours entitled "technology to touch”. It has training rooms and a conference hall. The aim is to foster new business in the industry and the diffusion of a more extensive know-how on hydrogen.