The renovation of the Sesta Laboratory (near Siena), a trial station for gas turbine combustors created by ENEL in the Siena area, which will now be converted into an infrastructure to support technological innovations in the oil&gas and power generation sectors. The Region of Tuscany deliberated financing in the sum of 7.3 million to the COSVIG (Consortium for the Development of Geothermal Areas) to make the technological upgrades necessary for the Sesta installation: this will be the second step in the large project that, beginning with the improvement of Sesta, wants to create, in Tucany, the technological hub for geothermal energy, focusing on research and development. The first step is transferring management of the laboratory from ENEL, which began managing in 1996, to COSVIG: the transfer is still in the negotiations phase between the two phases, and is one of the fundamental conditions to get the project’s operational phase under way.
As of now, with the improvements made to the structure in recent years, the laboratory is capable of executing 80 weeks per year of testing, and the Region of Tuscany – COSVIG goal is to turn it into a reference point for businesses in the energy sector, as well as for research centers and universities, especially those researching geothermal energy. Two important companies are already committed to having their products certified at this center: Ansaldo Energia, among the principal power station building groups, and Nuovo Pignone, a Florence-based company that spearheads General Electric’s oil&gas division.
Geothermal energy constitutes a Tuscan peculiarity as far as Italy’s renewables sector is concerned: in fact, the region is the only one to host geothermal plants, 34 to be exact, and all owned by Enel Green Power, and concentrated in the provinces of Siena, Pisa, and Grosseto, for a comprehensive generation of 772 MW and a production of 5.654 GWh, equaling nearly 26% of the Region’s energy needs and the average yearly consumption of nearly 2 million families. The first Enel geothermal plant began operating exactly eight years ago in Larderello, in the province of Pisa. A few weeks ago, Enel Green Power – the renewables division of Italy’s top electric power group – completed the renovations of its geothermal plants in the province of Siena, through a financial commitment of 90 million. After the renovation work, Plant 4 in Piancastagnaio has returned to functioning with a production potential of 20MW, and it will be able to generate over 150 million of kWh and to avoid the emission of 100,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, as well as saving the equivalent of 33,000 tons of gasoline per year.