Sixteen businesses already active in Tuscany’s geothermal sector are aiming to create a industry for low and medium enthalpy systems, those utilize the heat of underground fluids whose temperature is does not exceed 150 degrees. In recent moths, a network of businesses – that already have research permits in the region for this type of energy – and industrial entities already active in the sector have joined forces for this project. They then reached an agreement with the Regione Toscana [Region of Tuscany] to take the first steps towards the executive phase. An additional fifty companies with geothermal research permits spread throughout the areas of Monte Amiata, Roccastrada, Volterra, Catelnuovo Val di Cecina, and Pomarance could also join the initiative.

The final objective is the construction of combined closed cycle systems – those without atmospheric emissions – that use medium enthalpy geothermal power – an avenue for development not currently exploited in Italy. In Tuscany, the leading region for this type of energy, with 34 active plants, Enel Green Power operates a single experimental closed cycle plant in Bagnore that utilizes medium temperatures, using as the warm water residuals from high temperature processes that are later injected back into the ground.

The first checkpoint for this business network is to build a pilot 5-megawatt plant that will instead utilize primary medium-temperature fluid. Gianni Gori, president of the business network, recently explained to Il Sole 24 that the plant will require an investment of 40 million and will have to be built by 2015 in an area on the regional territory to be identified on the basis of its geothermal assets. The businesses’ commitment is to make the power generated available to the productive activities, beginning with agricultural greenhouses and moving towards industrial and commercial activities.

This will be the first step towards developing the industry through additional low and medium enthalpy systems, and not only in Tuscany. “Italy – Gori explained to Il Sole 24 Ore – has a red sea of heat underground that, over the next 10-20 years, could represent an infinite, zero cost resource, if it is well utilized and shared with the territories.”

In partnership with IlSole24Ore