Geothermal, Enel Green Power sets records
With almost 6 billion KWh produced in Tuscany, Enel Green Power sets another record in geothermal production in Italy and places the company at the world’s top levels. In 2016 there was a 51 GWh growth compared to 2015, the fourth increase in four years, the result of a perfect balance between well management, plant excellence and technology optimisation, with an efficiency rate exceeding 98%.
“These numbers, together with those of our geothermal production in the United States, place us second in the world”, explains the Head of Geothermal at Enel Green Power Massimo Montemaggi. “The merit must be fully attributed to the EGP team, which managed to ‘cultivate’ the geothermal fields instead of exploiting them until their possible decline. In fact, the most sensitive and strategic aspect of geothermal power consists in maintaining the balance between what you can extract from the geothermal fields and what nature makes available: an excessive exploitation leads to the inevitable decline of the fields, but you cannot grow without optimising the levels. In short, apart from the available physical resources, our know-how is what makes a difference across the world”.
Born more than 100 years ago from an idea by prince Piero Ginori Conti, who in 1904 tested the first generator in Larderello, geothermal power, currently branded ENP, counts on 34 plants (totalling 37 production groups) between the provinces of Pisa (2,976 GWh), Siena (1,492 GWh) and Grosseto (1,403 GWh). This complex has the potential to meet the average annual needs of more than two million households, actually heating 10.000 residential customers, as well as companies, greenhouses, diaries and all the businesses that form a real geothermal economic spillover on almost 30 hectares in Tuscany.
One of the most successful experiences of the last years consists in the Renewable Energy Food Communities that has developed thanks to the distribution of vapor from EGP’s geothermal plants. Their use not only allows the production of beers, basil, cheese and salami with a totally renewable and sustainable process, but has developed a tourist industry in excess of 60,000 visitors a year.
In some cases, corporate infrastructures have also become poles of attraction in this area. Alongside the recent Geothermal Museum or the historical plants in Larderello, Enel Green Power can count on resources unique in the world, like at the latest plant that was put into service, Cornia2 in Castelnuovo Val di Cecina, where geothermal steam is further enhanced by heat from biomass.
"Our business is a benchmark worldwide - Montemaggi went on to say - so much so that we export know-how in the United States, Chile and even in Germany. We are constantly growing and already by next May we will be working on a new well in Tuscany that will enable investigation more in depth compared to current tanks, looking for the so-called supercritical fluids at very high temperatures in the heart of the Earth. An activity that is still being assessed, but that could initiate a historical turning point in geothermal energy".