From energy to logistics, a new life for the former Carpi plant

From energy to logistics, a new life for the former Carpi plant

As part of the Futur-e programme, the former Fossoli power station is to be transformed into an Enel logistics hub for Northern Italy. This “sustainable construction site” provides a perfect example of a circular economy 


In Europe the name Fossoli is linked to a tragic chapter in the story of the Second World War. It was from here that thousands of people were sent to the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, Mauthausen, Dachau, Buchenwald and Ravensbrück. Among them was Primo Levi, the author of If This Is a Man.

A few dozen kilometres from the River Po, in the heart of the “Bassa Emilia” region, Fossoli is a village north of Carpi, in the province of Modena. It is one of Italy’s most productive textile districts with around 1,000 companies, a total workforce of 7,000 and a turnover of €1.5 billion. It was also the location of Enel’s former turbogas power station, which opened in 1980 and closed down in 2013. The plant has now been totally dismantled and within less than a year will begin a new life as an innovative logistics hub for our Group in Northern Italy. This was made possible by one of the most advanced repurposing projects in the ambitious Futur-e programme.


A notable example of a circular economy

Futur-e is a circular economy initiative involving the repurposing of 23 thermo-electric power stations in Italy that have reached or are about to reach the end of their useful life in the energy sector. From Trino Vercellese in Piedmont in the north, to Augusta in Sicily in the south, they have supported Italy’s industrial growth, and now projects in collaboration with the local authorities are enabling them to create a future of sustainable development and innovation. A rebirth rather than an ending for a number of industrial sites to be transformed into shopping destinations or centres for technology, culture, science or tourism, along the lines of London’s Tate Modern or Madrid’s CaixaForum.

The story of Fossoli is a notable example of a circular economy. The decision to implement a strategy of selective demolition means the Group has been able to recover around 3,500 tonnes of metal and to reuse 3,100 cubic metres of shattered concrete on-site. This sustainable construction site has made it possible to minimise waste, transforming materials remaining from the demolition into resources for reuse.


The sustainable construction site

“We’ve recovered tonnes of steel from the work on dismantling the gas turbines, storage tanks and other structures,” says Cristiano Mariniello, Engineering and Construction Project Manager for Enel Global Thermal Generation. The scrap left from the demolition is recovered and taken to the foundry. We’ve also recovered 42 tonnes of copper from electricity cables, alternators and transformers and 40 tonnes of aluminium.”

The new logistics hub project also involves sustainable solutions like LED lighting, systems for waste water phytodepuration and recovering rainwater to irrigate green areas and for the firefighting installations.

On paper the demolition of a former power station wasn’t a straightforward task – the installation occupied an area of 76,000 square metres, comprising two methane-burning turbogas plants with a maximum output of around 90 MW each. The work, though, was on-site within the deadline – demolition work began in September 2017 and was completed in early May, when the foundations for the new structure were laid. It is to be completed within the space of a year. “Selective demolition means we’ll save about half the demolition costs,” Mariniello points out. He goes on to highlight the positive repercussions the project will have on the local economy, as the company carrying out the work is based in Mirandola, 10 kilometres from Fossoli.

“The solution chosen for the former Fossoli plant totally reflects the objective of Futur-e. In other words, to transform the decommissioning of every plant into a new development opportunity,” says Marco Fragale, Head of the Futur-e project. Enel wants to rethink the use of the power station sites, identifying solutions and projects that fulfil the criteria of innovation and social, environmental and financial sustainability.

“We believe very strongly in this project, and the idea of a different future for the power station sites is also based on successful efforts made by the company to combine business requirements with the needs of the local area, with Carpi as an example”

Marco Fragale, Head of Futur-e project


A project shared by the community

One of the main objectives of the Futur-e programme is to share the project with the region. This “Shared Value” approach, based on an analysis of the location and direct involvement with local communities through competitions, ideas workshops and round tables, is one of the keys to the initiative’s success.  

The mayor of Carpi, Alberto Bellelli, provides confirmation. “Our assessment of the project is very positive, because it means a part of the local area has been redeveloped rather than abandoned, and one benefit of this is that it will bring jobs to an area that has lacked employment opportunities for some time now.” Bellelli says he is “proud” of the collaboration with Enel. “When a private body is prepared to take on an investment of this size, concepts like regeneration, repurposing and reuse of land take on a real, tangible meaning.” This area around the town has long been the location for a number of installations and sites that make it a centre for recycling and recovery that “not only serves Carpi, but also gives our region a strategic role in the context of the circular economy.”

“The project has provoked a very positive debate in the town. The way the site regeneration will be handled has attracted special praise, as it reuses scrap and waste and takes a scientific approach to eliminating the project’s environmental impact”

Alberto Bellelli, mayor of Carpi

And that’s not all. The sustainable construction site that will eventually become the Fossoli logistics hub is a sort of baptism of fire for Italy’s new regional urban planning law approved last year. This places reuse, regeneration and a halt to further land use at centre stage. “We anticipated the region’s legislative strategy, and the project is turning into a model for other structures in our area,” says Bellelli.  

From energy to logistics - Enel is a benchmark, with Carpi setting the standard for a circular economy.