The geothermal industry, two centuries of Italian excellence

Published on Friday, 11 May 2018

“Two hundred years may have passed, but the elegant, elderly lady that is geothermal power maintains a young spirit, thanks to her unwavering vocation to innovation and sustainability. Technological excellence in the geothermal sector enables us to pursue innovative paths and to constantly improve activity on all fronts, from the efficiency of the structures to processes of digitalisation and environmental positioning”

– Massimo Montemaggi, Head of Geothermal Energy, Enel Green Power

Emboldened by these experiences, and by two centuries of Italian geothermal industry, we have taken our technology to the rest of the world. In 2017, we inaugurated the geothermal centre, Cerro Pabellón, in Ollagüe on the Andean plateau in Northern Chile, the first in South America and the highest in the world.

In the United States, we built two futuristic plants that integrate different renewable sources: Stillwater, in Nevada, combines geothermal, solar thermal and photovoltaic power while Cove Fort, in Utah, employs geothermal and hydroelectric technologies. Two examples of excellence that position our Group at the forefront of geothermal technology.

Geothermal tourism

However, in all this, we have never lost sight of our origins. The Geothermal Museum was established in the 1950s in the historic palace that belonged to Count Larderel in Larderello. The museum recounts the story of the establishment, developments and advantages of geothermal energy: in 2017, we opened a new wing, which is used for visitor groups and accessible by reservation only.

The museum is an integral part of the geothermal tourist circuit and has contributed to the creation of a new niche market, which further adds to the attraction of Tuscany as a destination. In 2017 alone, there were more than 60,000 geothermal tourists. The itinerary includes the Biancane Park with its rocks that have been whitened by geothermal vapour, the Fumarole Park in Sasso Pisano, the boracic geysers at San Federigo and a guided tour of the Enel Green Power plants of Bagnore 3 and Bagnore 4, complete with informative panels as part of a display for visitors, and, of course, the museum itself. In 2017, the “Open Plants” event organised by EGP allowed tourists to visit the geothermal plant of Chiusdino in the province of Siena.

EGP together with CNR (the National Research Council) organised a two day event, involving a conference in Pisa and a guided tour of Larderello, to celebrate the geothermal bicentenary on 8 May and to provide further information on the theme of sustainable geothermal energy. A fitting way to remember the pioneering enterprise of Larderel and the scientific excellence of Italy of yesteryear and today.

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