Trino, the former power station converts to future-forward mobility
“Let other people make money: for me, the name is enough.” A century and a half later, we can safely say that Galileo Ferraris has been proved right. This is because his name will once again bring together past and future: one a story already written, the other yet to be.
Born in 1847 in Livorno Vercellese in the Northern Italian area of Monferrato, a place of rice paddies, truffles and mosquitos, Galileo Ferraris was an electric engineering pioneer and actually invented the alternating current electric motor. “But I am a professor, not an engineer,” he explained when asked why he had decided not to patent his invention. However, the American company Westinghouse ran with that idea and, as a result, a very significant chapter in 19th century industrial history unfolded.
The former power station at Trino Vercellese was named after Galileo Ferraris and was the first Enel combined cycle plant to open in Italy. Built between 1991 and 1997, it went into operation in 1998 with an installed power capacity of 700 MW.
However, the plant’s energy production was significantly reduced from 2012 onwards and it became part of the Futur-e project, which aims to give 23 thermoelectric power stations across Italy a new lease of life. Spanning the country from Piedmont to Sicily, these plants powered Italy’s industrial growth and now, thanks to partnerships with the local areas, will have the opportunity to create new sustainable development and innovation stories.
An e-car-dedicated park
Trino is a case in point. Its 90-hectare site will soon be transformed into an automotive theme park complete with electric car research laboratories, a dedicated charging station area, parks, and innovation and services spaces. The Galileo Ferraris name will once again help turn this new page in the plant’s history. In May, Enel signed the preliminary contract for the sale of the site with Galileo Ferraris srl, a company founded by local firms and entrepreneurs who presented a project consistent with the development plans in place for the surrounding area.
“We owe the very fact that electric mobility is a reality now in part to Galileo Ferraris, who invented the A/C electric motor. From a circular economy perspective, the regeneration project for the Enel power station had to be linked to sustainable mobility,” explains Galileo Ferraris srl’s director, Vittorio Piazza.
Enel will also be playing an active role in the site’s future: we will still own an area of the former power station and will be turning it into an innovative logistics hub for our Group’s activities. This is similar to what we did at our Carpi site.
“This new step forward consolidates the Futur-e project as best practice for the regeneration of our decommissioned power stations. It’s a tangible example of the success of the Enel approach which takes the surrounding area and stakeholder involvement as its starting point. The aim is to turn the closure of a plant into a new opportunity for development that will benefit the local community”
Carlo Tamburi, Head of Country Italy
Trino has been Italy’s rice capital since the 15th century when rice was first cultivated in our country, which remains Europe’s leading producer to this day. The municipality near Vercelli is also home to the Bosco delle Sorti della Partecipanza di Trino Nature Park, which floats like a sort of “green raft” between the great expanses of rice fields. It also gives an idea of what the Po Valley looked like before agriculture changed its face over the centuries. Galileo Ferraris srl is committed to maintaining the small natural oasis near the tanks on the station site which will thus protect the bird species living there.
A circular economy model
Just like the former Carpi station, Trino will become a fine example of how the circular economy can be applied and how the local area can be involved. Since the launch of the Projects Competition in 2016, the local municipality, the Piedmont region and the University of Eastern Piedmont have all played an active role in the process with Enel and the Milan Politecnico university, joining the Panel of Judges to select the proposals received. The project submitted by Galileo Ferraris srl was chosen in part because of its potential benefit to the area in terms of employment, both directly and indirectly: the upgrading of the site will involve local businesses from the outset in the selective demolition of the various facilities that are not required for its new purpose.
At the end of this first phase, which should be completed within three years, the definitive handover of the site will take place and the project proper will begin. This will involve the creation of an indoor karting track, a nature park, an innovation zone with agriculture and new plantings, as well as commercial and leisure time activities. A theme park that will focus on the future of clean, sustainable electric mobility, while keeping its roots firmly planted in the history of this part of the world. A new life that would most definitely have appealed to a pioneer of innovation of the likes of Galileo Ferraris.