Combined solar and biomass facility to be tested in Italy

By Luke Geiver | May 11, 2012

Three Italian organizations have signed a memorandum of understanding to test and develop a solar and biomass power facility.

Investment firm Roma Capitale, a global renewable energy solutions provider Enel Green Power, and ENEA, the Italian national agency for new technologies, energy and sustainable economic development, will work together on the project. They’ve named it TR.E.BIO.S, or trigeneration using renewable energy sources: biomass and solar thermodynamics.

The project will combine ENEA’s experience with solar energy, including its concentrated solar thermal energy technology that creates power and steam with a molten salt mixture that functions as a heat transfer fluid and thermal storage vehicle. Enel Green Power will build the TR.E.BIO.S facility, a small-scale, modular, polygeneration solar power plant that, in combination with biomass power, will produce roughly 1 to 5 MW, 24 hours per day. The aim of the project is to pretreat the agricultural and woody biomass with process steam generated from the solar thermal energy technology, and then utilize biogas in the auxiliary molten salts heater to produce roughly 40 percent of the plant’s electricity output.

According to Enel Green Power, the exploitation of the biomass waste used in the project could have a major economic impact, helping to increase the income of agri-business in the area of the proposed facility.

Enel has previously worked with the solar technology developed by ENEA, having built Archimede in Italy, the world’s first thermodynamic solar power plant that uses the molten salt heater integrated with a combined gas cycle to generate electricity. Although the majority of the biomass used in the process will be used for electricity generation, a portion will also be used for biofuel production, according to Enel.