Energy: Naples eyes geothermal energy, power plant soon

Campi Flegrei boasts energy equivalent of 4 nuclear plants

22 January, 10:54

The 'solfatara' in Campi Flegrei The 'solfatara' in Campi Flegrei

(ANSAmed) - NAPLES - Volcanoes not only frighten but can also bring wealth: this is the theory behind Naples' aim to use geothermal energy. The city at the foot of Vesuvius also has another volcano to its west, that of the Campi Flegrei, and by the end of the year a project for a geothermal power plant will get underway in the area to take advantage of its subterranean temperatures, both for household heating and for power production. The announcement was made at a conference on ''The Environment, Peace, Geothermal Energy, Development and Labour'' held today in Naples. ''We are aiming to set up a trigenerative pilot plant integrated with other sources, which in this case will be solar thermodynamic energy and liquid biomass, such as recycled vegetable oils and algae. All the elements will be natural ones,'' said Antonio Luongo, city councillor tasked with energy affairs by Mayor De Magistris. ''Geothermal energy is one of the sustainable type that we have the most of. Experts say that the geothermal potential in the Campi Flegrei is equal to the energy produced by four large nuclear power plants,'' Luongo said in illustrating the town council's decision to focus on geothermal energy. ''In line with the PAES (the action plan for sustainable energy approved by the town council in August, Ed.),'' Luongo went on to say, ''the Town Council is taking serious action on these issues, in compliance with European directives and the Horizon 2020 as concerns the implementation of sustainable energies. Initially we will focus on heating and then on power production.'' The plant will be the largest of a number of ''small ones located throughout the city'', Luongo said, and will be built with private funding. He said that ''there is already a group that took part in the Smart City competition, including research institutes, universities and several private companies. Private capital will then be put into the project with a contribution from the EU, as provided for by the Smart City project.'' The construction of the geothermal plant is expected to take about six months. Luongo concluded by saying that ''I am convinced that with a 'democratic', non invasive geothermal energy of the surface and with reinjection, new generation plants, we will be able to open up a new future for the city of Naples. I am certain that on this matter we will receive the support of environmental associations.'' Osservatorio Vesuviano director Marcello Martini also commented on geothermal energy development, saying that it ''has developed a great deal over the past few years. From huge plants we have now moved to the development of systems with intermediate outputs, sometimes even at the household level, and it has been developed even in areas in which there aren't any volcanoes, simply by using the earth's gradient.'' On potential risks connected with the use of this type of energy, Martini said that ''it is necessary to look at them alongside the use made of them. We study the geothermal system from a volcanic point of view, but also for the possible use of this energy. Obviously, like everything human, how it is used also determines the safety of it.'' (ANSAmed).