A lifetime’s involvement in geothermal energy
Forty years with the same team. Forty years of passion for geothermal energy in the land where he was born and raised, that magical area between Pisa, Volterra and Siena, where energy flows from beneath the ground and gives life to the unique landscape of the Tuscan geothermal zone.
A story of training, professional growth, and the continuous discovery, that of Massimiliano Santulli, Enel Green Power technician at the Larderello site whose job and passion was as an “expert visitor guide for geothermal energy”, Santulli retired on 1 August after exactly forty years of work with the company.
Santulli, born in 1958 in Montecerboli in the council area of Pomarance (in the province of Pisa), joined Enel very young on 1 August 1977. He had yet to turn 19 but geothermal energy was already his great passion. “I took part in the application procedure between April and May 1977, even though my parents were against it, because I was still completing my studies as a clerk, and I won a place immediately, with a score among the top 30 applicants. I completed my studies once I had begun to work.”
The expert visitor guide of geothermal energy
Santulli’s history of involvement in geothermal energy goes back a long way, during which time he has been able to learn about this world from every possible angle. On joining the company, he began to work in the mechanical workshop, then on the drilling plants and later in the personnel department. In 1991 he was transferred to the geothermal plants department with offices in Larderello, with the particular task of organizing geothermal events and accompanying groups and special visitors to discover this fascinating world, in collaboration with the department of Institutional Affairs and Communications at Enel. This activity, thanks to his innate curiosity, his love for his home area and the job, made Santulli highly knowledgeable on the subject, passionate as he is about history and the details of the territory, with a talent for explaining complex concepts in a comprehensible and captivating way and, above all, sharing his great passion for geothermal energy.
Santulli has become a reference point in Tuscany’s geothermal zone, appreciated by representatives of institutions, professors, company directors and experts from the energy sector, but also by young people from schools, university students and groups of tourists that visit the area in Tuscany, where the land has a warm heart.
This satisfaction and enjoyment derives from a passion that can be seen in the look in his clear eyes that are capable of seeking out the origins of this renewable source of energy that flows from the earth, while at the same time looking far into the distance.
Santulli’s tale is one of geothermal energy in the past, present and future in the Tuscan geothermal zone: from the Roman and Etruscan baths in Bagnone, the development of the chemical industry for the extraction of boric acid in the 1800s, the intervention of Piero Ginori Conti Prince of Trevignano, businessman and Italian politician (1865-1939), married to Adriana de Larderel (1872-1925), heir to the boric acid extraction business in Larderello. At the beginning of the 1900s Adriana turned around the fortunes of the then chemical company, which had been plunged into crisis by the arrival on the market of boric acid from the United States, by discovering a new way to exploit the natural vapour in order to produce electric energy.
Geothermal energy and the territory, a new perspective
The extremely strong link that ties geothermal energy, the territory and the company constitutes a unique organism that is nourished and blooms around the resource that flows from deep beneath the earth. Kilometres of tubes that blend with the vegetation of the Mediterranean basin and the cultivation of olives and vines and the fumaroles where it is possible to see and feel the earth’s pulse, the majestic cooling towers, heirs to the tall medieval towers that surrounded the Tuscan towns of Volterra and San Gimignano, to the museum of geothermal energy, a destination for thousands of visitors each year.
“A privilege and a pleasure,” is how Santulli describes having had the possibility to grow and learn at the same company in the same area, seeing and experiencing the development in person and on a professional level. Today, Enel Green Power is using this wealth of knowledge and expertise in the use of geothermal resources around the world in Latin America, the United States and Indonesia.
This is the opportunity and the greatest wealth that today Tuscan geothermal energy and Enel can offer a young person that wants to learn more about this world, “the possibility to learn over a century’s worth of expertise on the use of vapour to produce electricity and to employ this knowledge anywhere in the world that has such a resource.”
It never ceases to amaze
And now? “will continue to do what I have always done,” Santulli tells us, looking far into the distance as if the horizon has already told him of something new to discover. What this means is that he will continue to cultivate his passion through the many activities and initiatives in the territory involving institutions, associations and the public. His love for geothermal energy, just like any renewable resource, will never end.