Interview with Cristina Maggi

If you want to – and you understand Italian – you can also watch the interview on YouTube.


Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Good morning everyone! We are doing a new interview for the project FCHgo, our project regarding hydrogen and hydrogen technology applications in different sectors, as we will see later.We have a new guest that we’d like to thank for her time, engineer Cristina Maggi from H2IT association.

Cristina Maggi (H2IT): Good morning Barbara.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Thank you again for your time. Cristina, what is H2IT?

Cristina Maggi (H2IT): H2IT stands for Fuel Cell Hydrogen Italian association.Association means that we are a group of companies and research groups, so there’s an aggregation of both industrial and research competences aiming to develop and promote hydrogen technologies in Italy. Basically, we are the voice of Italian companies. We appeal to the government to encourage the growth of this sector also in Italy.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Your company was founded in 2005, is that correct? 15 years ago. This means hydrogen is becoming more popular but you, as well as other companies, have been working on hydrogen for a while.Maybe you want to comment about the fact that we’ve finally started to work for schools too and we are now able to provide solid information.

Cristina Maggi (H2IT): Yes, our association has a long history. It was founded in 2005, then over the past 5 years it has grown exponentially, and many sectors have focused on hydrogen on an international, European and then at the national level in Italy, thereforesuch a topic has attracted a great attention because hydrogen is an energy carrier which is the key for energy transition.Basically, together with electricity, hydrogen can decarbonise our societies through reducing pollutant climate-changing emissions of many energy sectors and other kinds of sectors, too. Over the last years the attention to the environment and to people’s health has grown very much, consequently also hydrogen has become popular.Lately, what has happened in the world has raised even more attention, and people wantto speed up the pace.We started with difficulty in 2005 –I was not working in this sectoryet –but at that time we didn’t know that much about technologies, applications and opportunities as we do today, then in 2016 a very important European directive called DAFI was adopted.It’s a Directive focusing onalternative fuel stations, more eco-friendly than diesel or petrol.Since then hydrogen has officially become an alternative fuel, its development has started not just for mobility and transport –since the Directive was mainly related to those issues –but we also explored other opportunities hydrogen can offer to the Italian territory which has very specific features that enable it to embrace the change.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): In Italy thepioneer city is Bolzano, in Trentino, isthat correct? Then the knowledge and the applications have gradually spread. We are in Modena for example, we were talking about thatduring the interview with the director of AESS, nowadays Modena is even called“the Hydrogen Valley”.Hydrogen has become more and more popular and its technologies have begun to be concretely applied in pilot projects and started obtaining effective results.Yesterday I read that the European Commission will give special attention to hydrogen. There are hydrogen-dedicated policies, right?

Cristina Maggi (H2IT): Yes, exactly. Actually, today is July 8th. Today the European Commission will launch the Hydrogen Strategy. We are very thrilled because of this, and there’s more to it.It will also launch other strategies which are The Energy System Integration Strategy and the so-called Clean Hydrogen Alliance which is an alliance of very big companies that want to invest in hydrogen.On a national level H2IT gathers companies that believe in it, that have also made private investments in hydrogen because they believe in its development in Italy and think there could be an opportunity of economic development, that’s why these statementsfrom the European Commission make us think about a potential development and support from the Italian government, too.We need a much clearer strategy concerning Italy, too. Italian plans provide actions for hydrogen, energy and climate, it’s a plan regarding the whole energy system but hydrogen is part of it in each single aspect, it means decarbonisation, renewable energies and domestic market.Therefore we are very pleased by these statements and we hope they could further promote this energy sector. Besides the private initiatives of private companies, there are also many local initiatives promoted by the territories, since hydrogen is the focus of many other sectors, it is like a missing link in the chain or them too.This is very interesting because hydrogen opens up many business opportunities and promotes dialogue in sectors that before had no dialogue.Molecule sector for example, so gas transport, and electric energy sector that before had few intersections but now cantalk thanks to hydrogen.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): This is an important and interesting message because in Italy, as well as in Europe, hydrogen potential is not very known and it is not included in educational curricula.Our goal is to spread the message, this kind of information to stimulate this growing sector.Hydrogen is an opportunity for everyone, as our colleague and “film” director Danica has written. So, as H2IT you support the government in its strategies or giveyour contribution and create a network among companies and projects–I want to underlinethat you immediately accepted to support our project FCHgo and we are very glad of this.Among other things, you also published our website link into your website,and this is something any project consortium should be proud of and this helps us and all the projects to create synergies, since we address schools as well as other projects address technology development, applications, pilot projects and so on.We really want to thank you. Maybe you want to say something about your networking work.

Cristina Maggi (H2IT): Yes, one of the important goals of H2IT is to give visibility to projects in Italy and to the set of skills we have within our country. We try to builda systemic approach, to create a critical mass, but also to show that we are skilled and that our set of competences are competitive within the European panorama. We strongly believe in these projects and in communication.On the one hand, we try to communicate with institutions, to support policy plans with the set of skills we group together. On the other hand, we try to communicate as much as possible with citizens and young people and we fully support this project to bring them into this new subject. Actually, it’s not new, but people might feel it is because they’ve never had the opportunity to see this energy carrier in their everyday life. It’s crucial to communicate it and Iet people know and discover this energy carrier.I suggest checking the H2IT website where you can find news, European and Italian projects, the latest news about hydrogen and research, but also about pilot and demonstration projects which are more concrete and deal with energy scaling up.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): I alsorecommend that schools, teachers and children, who should also join our international contest FCHgo Award, check applications, pilot projects and so on because we want you to find innovative ideas about hydrogen technology applications. So please unleash your creativity, find out more information and see what has already been done.Cristina, would you like to give us some examples of applications? We’ve talked about the hydrogen-powered school in Carpi which will be implemented next year with a hydrogen boiler and we’ve also mentioned hydrogen cars. Do you have other examples?

Cristina Maggi (H2IT): Hydrogen trains are very interesting. Now in Germany there are two hydrogen trains working like ordinary trains. Passengers get on and normally travel by thesetrains. We hope this will soon happen in Italy. It’s an opportunity since we have many diesel trains and trains which should be decarbonized.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Absolutely.

Cristina Maggi (H2IT): This is very interesting, it’ll be part of everyday life with cars, trains and boilers, as you said. It’ll be in every sector. Then there’s obviously the industrial sector, which is not so close to citizens, but it’s part of the energy production. What we’ll get from our industrial system will be more eco-friendly and, hopefully, electricity will increasingly be sourced from renewable energies. We’ll have eco-friendly hydrogen, made from renewable sources. We’re following this path and maybe we’ll soon travel by hydrogen cars and hydrogen trains. Wehope as soon as possible.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Exactly. Cristina I’d like to add one thing, I’ve already thanked you and I’d like to highlight that you are a woman and an engineer managing such an important Italian association. This is a thought that I hope all the girls following us from primary school to high school will consider.It’s great that women have got into the scientific field. There are opportunities, like there were for you, to hold important position and to manage an innovativeand expanding sector such as this one. Congratulations. Would you like to add something since there are teenagers finishing high school who have to choose between going to university or working? What would you suggest doing?

Cristina Maggi (H2IT): You’reright Barbara, it’s a very interesting field. I studied Engineering and I chose Energy Engineering, an amazing Bachelor in Engineering. I’ve ended up in this field and I really like it because it deals with every energy sector. It gathers them all and offers you an overview of everything which is happening. It’s also expanding in terms of technologies and applications.This is the right moment to follow this path. When I graduated from high school, I aspired to focus on renewable energies and that’s what Istill do. So, I chose to study Energy Engineering. It’s important that you know all the different opportunities you have. I believe that now more than ever we’ll move towards energy transition. Everything will be renewable, we’ll have clean energy carriers such as hydrogen, and in this sector there’ll be many career opportunities. I suggest that boys and girls follow this path because there are many chances. It’s essential that the younger generations are involved in this sector because it’s very fascinating.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Absolutely. I’d like to mention an Erasmus + project we promoted called GrEAT. The project was closed last year and addressed high school students and focused on career opportunities for graduates in the field of greeneconomy. This also deals with our subject and it can be useful for teachers to have further information to help students to choose in this sector. Danica is showing you the website of that project. You must always create synergies among the activities youdo. Thank you, Cristina, we’ll keep in touch for more interviews. This video will be available on our social networks, if we have questions from our followers or schools, we’ll forward them to you.

Cristina Maggi (H2IT): Yes, absolutely. I’m glad to help. You can also find our contacts on the website, do not hesitate to contact us, we’ll be more than happy to answer you.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Thank you and good look with your work.

Cristina Maggi (H2IT): Thank you.

Barbara Grazzini (InEuropa srl): Have a nice day, bye!


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