Futur-e: Decommissioning for low-carbon

Published on Friday, 16 February 2018

The Futur-e project was one of 18 case studies presented at Europe’s Decommissioning and Demolition of Conventional Power Plants Conference 2018, which took place in Berlin on February 15 and 16. The issue is important due to its consequences on the environment. The progressive withdrawal from fossil fuel production, through initiatives aimed at creating new roles for the sites of large thermal power plants that are no longer of strategic value to energy production, is a crucial step in the European pathway towards the decarbonisation of our generation mix by 2030, alongside the investment in renewables.

The event illustrated and compared studies and strategies presented by international players, including, in addition to Enel, RWE, EDP Portugal and Uniper. The topics discussed concerned all aspects of DD: decommissioning in compliance with EU decarbonisation commitments , DD techniques, interactions between operators and contractors in demolition, plant relocation, strategic management of asbestos removal and environmental radiation, as well as the commitment from, and collaboration with, stakeholders.

These topics were also covered by Enel while presenting Futur-e, the project chosen by the company to lead the energy transition using a method capable of providing sustainable solutions for the redevelopment of 23 power plant sites, or parts of them, located around Italy.

In his speech Giuseppe D'Orsi, Project Manager of Futur-e, presented the approach devised by Enel and its applications, including competition procedures, sales and redevelopment for internal use, and how these aspects all share the key values of the project: sharing with local communities, economic, social and environmental sustainability and the principles of the circular economy.
"Futur-e aims to minimise every possible waste and maximise re-use in the reconversion process,” explained D'Orsi. “A commitment that we apply both in the planning of the new role for the plant sites and in the construction and demolition phases."

Among the case studies presented were the project competitions of Montalto di Castro and Rossano and the process for the redevelopment of the area of the former Santa Barbara mine in Tuscany. These examples all demonstrate that for Enel decommissioning does not just mean closing down the sites or looking for buyers; in fact, the goal is to rethink the use of these plants in order to generate shared value for the local area and identify solutions and projects also from outside the energy sector.

Futur-e can be better defined as a "method" as well as a project: this is the first case in the world in which a company has launched a plant redevelopment programme on such a large scale, incorporating the principles of sustainability and the circular economy. Increasingly, this approach is being acknowledged in international contexts as an example of "best practice." This is thanks to the features that unite all the different strategies adopted for the sites: local involvement, procedures aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the projects and the re-use of existing facilities. Most important, however, is the idea that only through the cooperation of all stakeholders is it possible to turn what in industrial terms might be a critical issue, such as the closure of a plant, into a new opportunity.

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