08 Jun 2021

Italian industrial park towards a low carbon economy

An interesting energy cooperation solution can be found in Tuscany, where one can find an industrial area mainly composed of several tanneries and a shared wastewater treatment plant, managed by Cuoiodepur.

Several local stakeholders agreed on the following principles:

1.) Energy cooperation is considered as a chance to highlight the efforts of industrial park towards a low carbon economy.

2.) Reduction of energy costs.

3.) Energy autonomy in order to avoid the risks associated with the volatility of energy prices and enhance the use of potential energy. 

4.) A more economic and environmentally sustainable management of solid and liquid waste. Based on these principles, a solution was defined by several involved companies during a meeting in 2019. This solution foresees the development of a Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant designed to use biogas (and further biomethane) yielded by the anaerobic codigestion of vegetable tannery sludge to produce heat and electricity for the tanneries, for the wastewater treatment plant and for the grid if in surplus.

The CHP plant is planned to be connected to already existing infrastructures – in terms of industrial area heating pipelines – to transport heat from Cuoiodepur to tanneries. This infrastructure is already connected to another pre-existent CHP facility that is not running nowadays. Also including the potential installation of additional small CHP plants to balance the whole network and limit natural gas is under study. Depending on the actual configuration that will be implemented, it may be possible that an amount of energy surplus energy (electricity and/or heat), will be generated.

Stakeholders involved may have the interest to sell the energy surplus in order to maximize the profits for the investment and to establish a convenient trade. In addition, joint energy management solutions are considered. 

This solution aims at facilitating energy conservation by monitoring energy consumption, identifying various options for saving energy (for example, through energy audits), and carrying out awareness programs, all of them aimed at implementing the option for energy savings identified. The solution is particularly important since tanneries are mostly small-medium family businesses, which face lack of specific energy-related competencies and deal with restricted financial resources, especially for non-core activities.

Information on this page is retrieved from S-PARCS