Italy’s first bid to use renewable hydrogen in steelmaking will be launched by a consortium including a unit of EDF and metals group Tenaris, as moves to enable so-called ‘green steel’ production gather pace.

EDF-owned Italian utility Edison, Tenaris and energy infrastructure specialist Snam signed a letter of intent to deploy a 20MW hydrogen electrolyser at a pilot project at Tenaris’s steel pipe facility at Dalmine.

Replacing natural gas at with hydrogen would “significantly reduce CO2 emissions related to electric arc furnace steel” said the partners, as they agreed to plan what is said to be Italy’s first foray into green H2 for steelmaking.

No details were given about the source of the renewable power for the electrolyser, but Edison’s fleet includes almost 1GW of wind power and 87MW of solar capacity in Italy.

No costs and timescales were specified for the project, which will also look at options for storing both hydrogen and the oxygen used as a by-product of electrolysis for use in the steelmaking process.

Penetration of green hydrogen in steel and other metals production is seen as crucial to helping one of the world’s most energy-intensive, and hard-to-decarbonise, sectors to reduce its carbon footprint.

Edison CEO Nicola Monti said: “The renewable energy produced by our plants and the technological solutions available to us can concretely contribute to the development of a new and important national value chain, which in the coming decades will accompany the evolution of the economic and production system towards climate neutrality.”

The Dalmine project joins hydrogen-based green steel initiatives such as those underway by Vattenfall in Sweden and German steelmaker Thyssenkrupp in the Middle East.