"Il Diamante" ("The Diamond") is a new generation solar
power plant designed and developed by Enel's Research department and the
University of Pisa.
Its architectural design allows it to blend harmoniously into the delicate
and diverse natural landscapes in which Italy is so rich.
Mounted on the faces of a geodesic dome structure popularised by R.
Buckminster Fuller, the solar panels generate electricity that can be stored in
the form of hydrogen to be used when the skies are overcast.
The whole structure is brought together by a construction of huge
proportions made of prefabricated glass and steel, creating a new type of
functional power plant whose striking appearance achieves an harmonious balance
between architecture, technology and nature.
The first Diamante installation will be seen at the Villa Medicea in
Pratolino, near Florence.
The Diamond is composed of a sphere, with an 8-metre diameter. Thirty-eight
polycrystalline silicon solar panels are arranged on the crown and the
south-facing side. The remaining surface is covered with glass panels to
protect the structure against the wind.
Inside, in three spheres, each 2 metres in diameter, there are hydrogen
storage tanks, using the advanced technology of metal hydrides. The plant can
generate enough electricity to meet the energy demands of a small apartment
A versatile, dynamic structure, the Diamond is easy to dismantle and
reassemble, and will be a test bed for the latest developments in solar power
technology, a field which is likely to be the target of intense research over
the next few years, as new systems come onto the market.