Talks

Italy’s most ambitious green energy projects

 By Peter Ward

Renewables play an increasingly large role in Italy’s energy consumption. According to GSE, the state-owned company that manages renewables support in the country, over 17 percent of Italy’s final energy consumption in 2017 was met by green energy…

Renewables accounted for 34 percent of the total energy in the electricity sector, almost 5 percent more than the European average, according to GSE. That kind of energy makeup is obviously a step in the right direction for the environment, but it’s also good for Italy’s economy. The renewables sector employs 38,000 people in electricity plants, and another 34,000 in renewable heat. On top of that, renewable energy was responsible for 47,000 temporary jobs in 2017. Here are some of the most ambitious renewable energy projects undertaken, or underway, in Italy.

Progetto Italia

Eni’s Progetto Italia Plan, which covers many forms of renewable energy, involves an investment of around €260 million over the next four years to install more than 220 megawatts of additional capacity through renewable energy sources. The company is installing solar panels on 400 hectares of land, predominantly on its own industrial sites.
This land will be made up from 12 different regions and most of proposed capacity will come from photovoltaic energy. Other technologies used, however, such as biomass and concentrating solar power are being considered.
The progetto Italia initiatives will generate 0.38 TWh per annum, which will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 150,000 metric tons. The first photovoltaic plant to come into operation is the Ferrera Erbognone in the province of Pavia.

Concentrated thermodynamic solar power

Concentrated solar power (CSP), which turns solar energy into both electricity and thermal energy, provides a low-cost means of storing, which makes it possible for systems to function even when there’s no sun. A pilot plant has been planned by Eni for Gela in Sicily, followed by a full solar farm in Assemini in Sardinia. The technology is being developed in collaboration with Milan Polytechnic University and MIT, the American university.

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Progetto Italia - Photovoltaic plant in Assemini, Sardinia

Entracque power plant

Not all of the biggest green energy projects are recent. In fact, the Entracque hydroelectric power plant is decades old, beginning operations in 1982. The plant, which is just south of Entracque in the north of Italy, is the largest of its kind in Italy. The Enel-run facility is actually two plants, one with an installed capacity of 1,184 megawatts, and the other with 133 megawatts.

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Enel Entracque Hydroelectric Power Plant (talentour.org)

Morcone project

The Morcone project, a new onshore wind farm in the area of Naples, was the largest project awarded by the Italian government at an auction in 2016. E.ON has begun construction on the 57 megawatt farm, which will consist of 19 turbines from the Danish manufacturer Vestas. The company is currently building roads and laying foundations for the first turbines, and the farm is expected to go into operation in early 2019.

Montalto di Castro solar power plant

When the Montalto di Castro 84 megawatt solar power plant was completed in December 2010, it was the largest solar power plant in the world, based on annual energy produced. Built by SunPower, the plant covers 166 hectares and consists of 276,156 panels. Each year it produces 140 gigawatts of energy. During construction of the plant, designers took special measures to minimize the visual and environmental impact it made on the surroundings, and preserved Etruscan archaeological remains during building work.

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Montalto di Castro solar power plant (sma-italia.com)

READ MORE: Energy Snack: Progetto Italia returns by Eniday Staff

about the author
Peter Ward
Business and technology reporter based in New York. MA in Business Journalism at Columbia University Journalism School 2013. Five years experience reporting in the U.S., the U.K., and the Middle East.