- The project, which stems from a collaboration between Enel, the Italian National Research Council and the Science and Technology Park of Sicily, was implemented at the site of the former thermal power station of Augusta, Sicily
- The new photovoltaic power plant was built by Enel Green Power and marked the launch of the “Scelta Rinnovabile” initiative
Augusta, March 14th, 2023 – Enel, the Italian National Research Council (CNR), and the Science and Technology Park of Sicily (PSTS) have opened an innovative research center and a new 1.5 MW photovoltaic plant has also been built at the site of the former thermal power station in Augusta (Province of Syracuse), giving the facility a new lease on life.
The new research center, which is available to researchers of the Institute for Advanced Energy Technologies “Nicola Giordano” of the Italian National Research Council and of the Science and Technology Park of Sicily, will be especially dedicated to sustainable remediation and measures to reduce the environmental impacts of related power stations and infrastructure. The technologies that will be developed there will also be implemented in places of interest for Enel. For example, the envisaged activities will include conducting experiments on the reduction of environmental impacts (aimed at valuing and preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services) and research on the integration of solutions and technologies that can be used in conjunction with energy production activities (such as for agrivoltaic applications). The goal is to set up a center of excellence equipped with the necessary facilities and technologies that will offer the opportunity to conduct research by simulating site-specific conditions in the laboratory. This will allow the parties involved to come up with new solutions that will support the ongoing transition in the global energy sector, which is an interdisciplinary field of research that holds great scientific, social and economic potential.
The new photovoltaic plant built by Enel Green Power uses the state-of-the-art photovoltaic modules produced at the 3Sun factory in Catania. The plant, which has a capacity of about 1.5 MW, will help to avoid 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions each year and save 800,000 cubic meters of gas, which will be replaced with locally produced renewable energy. The residents of Augusta and the local communities were actively involved in the photovoltaic project: in fact, they joined the “Scelta Rinnovabile” (Renewable Choice) crowdfunding initiative, which enables those who have invested in fundraising to obtain a financial gain and get something in return for their investment.
“The transition to a more sustainable energy model is an opportunity to give our plants, which have been shut down, a new lease of life,” said Luca Solfaroli Camillocci, Head of Enel Green Power and Thermal Generation Italy at Enel. “The site of this thermal power station, which has been supplying power to the local area, contributing to its growth for many years, now houses a research center and a renewable energy power plant. This recent enhancement is based on a circular economy approach and is a clear example of the fact that we want to continue to create value in the area through our activities, since we are committed to a future-oriented energy policy.”
“The joint activities of Enel and CNR at the new laboratory in Augusta are perfectly in line with the overall energy and environmental transition that our country is experiencing,” comments Emilio Fortunato Campana, Director of DIITET, the Department of Engineering, ICT, and Technologies for Energy and Transport of the CNR. “The Augusta project is a great opportunity for DIITET to implement, in collaboration with Enel, successful research programs with a highly innovative approach to the circular economy and sustainability. Through its extensive interdisciplinary expertise, DIITET is able to develop cutting-edge solutions and technologies in various energy sectors in line with Enel’s strategies.”
“We are very pleased to participate in the launch of this praiseworthy initiative that will see the Science and Technology Park of Sicily collaborate with the CNR and Enel in various activities at the laboratory in Augusta, with the aim of developing industrial research and experimental development projects in the area in order to play a key role in the transition to more sustainable energy sources that will reduce fossil fuel dependency,” said Rosario Minasola, the newly-appointed President of the Science and Technology Park of Sicily.
“The Tifeo plant in Augusta, was built in the late 1950s,” said Augusta Mayor Giuseppe Di Mare. “Its construction provided a solution to the energy demands of the many industries that began to establish themselves in this area soon after the war. It was acquired by Enel when it was nationalized in the 1960s and, for about 50 years, continued to supply the regional power grid. Now that the new photovoltaic plant and the research laboratories of the CNR and of the Science and Technology Park of Sicily have been built, it is with great pride that we can announce that, once again, the Augusta plant and the local area are able to play a key role in the energy transition process that is currently underway in Italy, much like it did in the 1950s during industrialization.”
As part of the conversion process, not only were the buildings preserved but also the historical and industrial heritage that the site itself represents: the plant, which was designed by the architect and town planner Giuseppe Samonà, won the “ARCHINSI 61” award in 1961 and is still being studied and researched by universities.
The redevelopment of the Augusta site is an integral part of Enel’s overall strategy to give a new lease on life to the industrial sites of thermal power stations as part of the transition to a more sustainable energy model. In many cases, these sites have contributed to the country’s industrial and social development and have a strong connection with the area in which they are located. The first step is to assess whether these plants have potential for development in the energy sector: if this is the case, Enel will remain the owner of the site and will oversee the transformation process. If there is no potential for energy upgrading, or if such potential is only partial, integration and redevelopment are encouraged by implementing new business projects in fields other than energy production. This can be achieved through sustainable, complementary investments either in the entire area of the facilities or part of them and must meet the needs of the communities where the facilities are based. In any case, all projects will have to be guided by the principles of innovation and sustainable development, while creating shared value for the community and the surrounding area.