Snam’s story coincides with Italy’s natural gas story. An adventure that started with the establishment of S.Na.M., Società Nazionale Metanodotti (National Gas Pipeline Company) in 1941 to provide with methane manufacturing companies operating on the plains of Northern Italy.
Shortly afterwards, an actual “gas rush” began following the discovery of several major fields in the Po Valley.
Natural gas came into homes for domestic use and helped creating a working class of manual workers and engineers, laying the foundations for the “Italian economic miracle”.
The development of strategic infrastructure gradually turned Italy into an important centre for the gas market. Snam became a pioneer in Europe thanks to import contracts with Libya, the former USSR, the Netherlands, Algeria and Norway and the Italian gas network kept expanding and building energy connections with other countries.
The more recent history follows on from the liberalization of the Italian gas market in 2000, with the unbundling of transmission and dispatching businesses from the other gas value chain activities. In 2001 Snam was listed on the Italian Stock Exchange, becoming one of the most capitalized companies at Piazza Affari.
In the last decades Snam has begun a path of international growth acquiring interests in foreign companies and supporting strategic projects in Europe, the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) being the most prominent one.
The role of natural gas is changing from that of a bridge fuel to being an essential and sustainable part of the future energy mix, consistently with the objectives of reducing carbon dioxide.
In recent years, progress has been made in the development of renewable gas, i.e. biomethane in the form of upgraded biogas produced by anaerobic digestion of agricultural biomass and other organic wastes, biomethane produced from thermal gasification of woody residues, hydrogen produced from renewable electricity (via Power-to-Gas), and synthetic methane produced from renewable hydrogen. Moreover, carbon capture and storage technologies (CCS) offer interesting prospects for reducing conventional gas emissions, especially when associated to bio-energy (BECCS).
Being an entirely renewable energy source, as well as programmable and storable, biomethane is a driver for decarbonisation of transports and electricity. Snam has already received hundreds of preliminary inquiries for connection to the grid from potential biomethane producers.
Power-to-Gas technology enables to convert electrical power from intermittent renewables to hydrogen and synthetic gas. Snam’s French affiliate Teréga is among the promoters of the “Jupiter 1000” project, the first industrial demonstrator of Power-to-Gas with a power rating of 1 MWe for electrolysis and a methanation process with carbon capture.
Gas is also bound to play an increasing role in replacing more polluting fuels in road and sea transports (through compressed and liquefied natural gas respectively) and in the Heating and cooling sector, thanks to gas fired micro-CHP systems and gas heat pumps.