Geothermal heat and CO2 feeding commercial algae production in Tuscany

Green algae spirulina (source: Joydeep, CC BY-SA 3.0)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 10 Jun 2019

Production has started of spirulina algae at a new greenhouse operation fed by geothermal heat and CO2 by near

The multiple uses of geothermal energy have been discussed many times, but it is always great to report on concrete commercial and successful ventures that utilise geothermal energy beyond electricity.

In the oldest geothermal region of Italy, in Monteverdi Marittimo near Pisa one of the first greenhouses for the production of spirulina algae has been established, producing a dark green micro-algae that contains nutrients and antioxidants, a source of protein and Omega 3 and is considered one of the foods of the future, used in the food, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and water treatment sectors.

The Tuscan plant will have a unique feature: it will be powered by the heat and carbon dioxide produced by the nearby Enel Green Power geothermal power plant. Carbon dioxide, in particular, will be used by plants to increase the speed of growth.

To carry out the investment of about EUR 3 million ($3.4m) is Giorgio Novak, a former manager of a multinational company, which has found funders to build one hectare of greenhouses and has signed an agreement with Enel Green Power in Tuscany. The energy group had experimented between 2017 and 2018 in Chiusdino (Siena), together with the Consorzio Sviluppo geotermiche (Cosvig), the cultivation of spirulina algae, confirming the economic and environmental convenience of activity in the geothermal environment.

From tourism to agriculture, geothermal energy is thus stimulating new activities in the area and attracting visitors: in Monteverdi earlier last month, the “Porta per la geotermia” park was inaugurated which illustrates Tuscan geothermal energy through panels and indications of places to be visit and components of the production cycle, from the steam vents (which also physically constitute the park access door) to the mouthpieces, the cooling tower and other equipment that allow steam from the heart of the earth to reach the turbine to produce electricity , and then be used for the district heating of houses and companies and for other innovative uses as it is precisely the cultivation of spirulina algae.

Source: Il Sore 24 ore