Edison opens 'strategic' hydrogen-ready power plant near Venice

(Reuters) - Italian energy group Edison on Friday inaugurated a new lower-emissions gas power station near Venice which in the future should also run on a hydrogen-gas mix that should be even less pollutant.

Italy's government sees hydrogen power as a promising new technology for a country that currently produces more than 50% of its energy from fossil fuels but aims to increase power generation from renewables to two-thirds of the total by 2030.

Edison, the Italian unit of French electricity group EDF, invested around $438 MM to transform an old plant into a new thermoelectric facility in Porto Marghera, an industrial hub overlooking the Venice lagoon.

It has an installed capacity of 780 MW and an energy efficiency of 63%, allowing it to cut carbon and nitrogen oxides emissions by up to 30% and 70% respectively, compared to the current Italian average for similar plants, Edison said.

Edison CEO Nicola Monti said the plant "shows how different technologies can contribute to the common decarbonization objective", but noted it was not ready yet to also run on hydrogen.

"We are looking at the future possibility to convert this plant and to use it in an even more sustainable way. Unfortunately, green hydrogen production is not yet competitive compared to natural gas. We will definitely get there within a few years," he said.

Industry Minister Adolfo Urso, who took part in the inauguration, said in a tweet that the new plant was "strategic for Italy" and hailed it as "one of the most efficient and sustainable in Europe".

With a total of 7.2 gigawatt (GW) of installed capacity distributed across the country, Edison covers 7% of Italy's electricity production.

It has an investment plan worth 10 billion euros by 2030, half of which is dedicated to expanding renewable energy.

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