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Early exploration authorized for 47 sq.km in two areas in Tuscany, Italy

River of Arno, Empoli, Tuscany, Italy (source: flickr/ piers_canadas, creative commons)
Alexander Richter 2 Aug 2020

Developer Geotermia zero emissioni Italia Srl has received approval for early exploration work for two areas between Bassa and Spicchio in Tuscany, Italy.

As reported last month, there is an interest in geothermal development in Tuscany, Italy, specifically in the Bassa Valdelsa and Piana dell’Arno areas between Bassa and Spicchio. In fact, studies have recently been authorized by the Tuscany Region to try to understand if the precious geothermal resource of underground steam is present in a strip of about 47 square kilometers, which exists over four municipal areas, which allows, like Larderello, to feed zero environmental impact power plants.

At the moment this would be entail “soft” exploratory activities, that could determine how things would evolve of the next few years. 

The authorization of the offices of the Region was granted to the company Geotermia zero emissioni Italia Srl (Geothermal zero emissions Italia Srl) in Florence, which had submitted its early exploration permit request for the area defined as “Terrafino”.

But that in addition to the area of ??the same name on the western outskirts of Empoli, the interest also concerns part of an area that reaches, in addition to the Arno valley, also to the Monterappoli hills, to the hamlet of Molin Nuovo and beyond the Elsa river, affecting therefore also the municipalities of Cerreto Guidi, Vinci and San Miniato, albeit marginally.

The company had presented a four-step action plan. First of all, the acquisition, systematization and processing of existing geological, gravimetric, stratigraphic, geochemical and geothermal data, followed by the synthesis of the analyzed data. Subsequently, it provided for the drilling of a new exploration well, an operation to be repeated possibly a second time.

“Geothermal zero emissions Italy” had highlighted in the documentation that the area had already been affected in the past by exploration of the subsoil, speaking of numerous existing wells drilled by Agip and Spi. All this was the subject of a bureaucratic process which led, on 20 March 2019, with only two points of the proposal receiving approval, yet discarding the option of drilling.

This is because opinions have come to the contrary from some of the bodies involved in the matter, first of all that of Arpat and the Tuscan regional secretariat of the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities.

Mibact, in particular, has placed its veto as “a higher incidence of seismic phenomena following geothermal extraction cannot be excluded with absolute certainty. According to the ministry, in fact, the “extreme precariousness in which the monumental properties of San Miniato are located, subject to seismic risk and due to the intrinsic conditions relating to the building materials (brick tuff and generally sack walls), must be kept in mind, is related to the geomorphological conditions of the hills on which the historic center lies, with steep landslides. Therefore any possibility of minimal seismic incidence could seriously compromise important assets that have long awaited interventions of consolidation and restoration and safety of the slopes “.

In any case, the Region of Tuscany, in recent weeks, has taken note of the minutes of the conference of services, issuing the green light to the investigation activity without drilling for the next four years.

The Florentine company, now, will have to conclude the phases authorized in this act within ten months, paying for 2020 a fee of about EUR 365 to the Region for each square kilometre involved in the investigation. 

Source: Il Tirreno