This high school is all about green hydrogen heating

This high school is all about green hydrogen heating

March 11, 2024 0 By Amanda Giasson

A public high school in Europe heats its gym with a clean hydrogen-powered boiler.

Antonio Meucci in Carpi, Italy is your average high school at first glance, but look a little deeper and you’ll discover that it’s actually home to the first boiler powered by green hydrogen that’s dedicated to heating an educational facility of this kind in Europe.

How exactly does this boiler work?

Via electrolysis it uses green hydrogen power to heat the school’s gym. According to the engineer behind the clean heating project, Annalisa Vita, the renewable hydrogen is produced from a photovoltaic park (solar panels), that were built on the gym’s room.

The renewable power is used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. Oxygen is released into the air and the hydrogen is “stored in a container,” Vita explained to Euronews Green, which traveled to Carpi to learn about the H2-powered heating system.

Here’s a some facts about the school’s boiler:

  • The green hydrogen boiler is tucked safely within a fenced area in a corner of the schoolyard and can be accessed only by specialized technicians.
  • It was designed by Coopservice in 2020.
  • The green heating project began in January 2023.
  • Due to safety regulations, it does not operate fully on hydrogen. The boiler is currently powered by 20% hydrogen and 80% methane.
  • The hydrogen that is used by the boiler is generated from renewable power that is produced by solar panels built on the roof of the school’s gym.
  • The boiler heats the school gym.

The green hydrogen boiler is a reliable heat source.

In fact, it offers greater reliability compared to just renewable heating. This is because of hydrogen’s storage capability.

Green hydrogen - Image of boiler and Italian Flag

Vita pointed out that solar panels alone are insufficient for generating meaningful amounts of energy when skies are gray. However, hydrogen offers the advantage of storing surplus energy collected by these panels on sunny days, which can later be used in the winter.

Contributing to Modena’s emissions reduction.

The high school’s boiler and 20 other clean energy projects in Modena are expected to decrease carbon emissions in the Italian province by 717 tons annually, says Vita.

For Carpi, specifically, the green hydrogen boiler can help to clean up the air. The city is situated in the heavily polluted Po Valley, which is no stranger to having “alarming” air quality.

Is green hydrogen the key to low-carbon heating?

hydrogen news ebookAt this point in time, it’s not likely. Even the International Energy Agency notes that in the building sector hydrogen makes up only a “negligible share of energy demand”, and that it’s not likely to change much by the end of the decade.

It’s far more likely that, in the long run, green hydrogen stands to play a role in a much wider strategy that encompasses a variety of clean power solutions and low-carbon, sustainable technologies. Green H2 tech still has many hurdles to overcome including cost, lack of infrastructure, supply shortages, and regulatory policy support before it can be proven “key” to any sort of large-scale decarbonization strategy.

Still, it’s pilot projects like this one at Antonio Meucci that help green hydrogen to get its proverbial foot in the door.

Ready to test your knowledge on the most abundant element in the universe? Take our fun and engaging Hydrogen Quiz now!

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