Italian geothermal developer ITW LKW Geotermia Italia S.p.A. has been issued an exploration permit for its geothermla project at Castel Giorgio, in Umbria, Italy.
The permit was issued in March 2020, during the full lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, by the Ministry of Economic Development, in agreement with the Ministry of the Environment, as reported by Umbria24.
According to the company’s website, “the “GeoterMIA Castel Giorgio” project involves the construction of two pilot geothermal plants of 5 MWe each for the production of electricity and heat, from geothermal sources, without emissions into the environment and with the possibility of heat transfer (district heating).” (Project website)
The best of the knowledge of ThinkGeoEnergy, this is the first geothermal project not by Enel that is moving forward in Italy.
Plans were made for the development of the project as early as 2014, when there was a positive decree of the environmental compatibility of the project was issued by the Ministry of the Environment, in agreement with the Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism (Mibact). The decree was issued on the basis of the favourable opinions of the Technical Commission for the verification of the environmental impact VIA and SEA (Ctvia) n. 1641 of 31 October 2014 and of the Mibact.
This decree also considers the interlocutory opinion of the Umbria Region no. 7896 of 1 October 2014 and the favourable opinion of the Lazio Region no. G16974 of 25 November 2014. The EIA decree – continues Minister Patuanelli – is accompanied by an articulated and punctual prescriptive framework that takes into account all the environmental aspects characterizing the project, including those relating to micro-seismicity. In any case, following the lack of agreement on the part of the Umbria Region, the procedure was remitted to the presidency of the Council of Ministers “.
Since then there has been some opposition and claims by opponents to the project.
Government decision on Castel Giorgio
“As part of the investigation conducted by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, it emerged that the problem of seismic events was duly evaluated even if, obviously, the environmental impact procedure, dating back to 2015, could not take into account the seismic events that occurred in 2016.
With a note dated 5 March 2019, the Ministry of Economic Development (Mise) therefore asked the Ministry of the Environment and the Protection of the Territory and the Sea to involve the Technical Commission for the verification of the environmental impact VIA and SEA, to in order to assess the need for a new environmental impact assessment. The commission, with opinion 3025 of 31 May 2019 confirmed the previous opinion of October 2014, deeming no further analysis necessary. In particular, the authorization to build the plant.
“As part of the assessments carried out on the subject – explains Minister Patuanelli – the relevance of the sentence n.7573 of 2019 of the Regional Administrative Court for Lazio – Third Section was highlighted, with which, in a situation similar to that in word, the appeal of the Municipality concerned against the acts of the Ministry of the Environment and the protection of the territory and the sea was accepted, in agreement with the Minister of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism.
With a further opinion of July 2019, however, the commission confirmed its opinion expressed in the previous opinion of May of the same year, in turn confirming that of October five years earlier, favourable with prescriptions. In particular, the Ctvia considered that the problem posed with the sentence of the Lazio TAR of 2019 did not arise for the geothermal plants of Castel Giorgio and Torre Alfina. Taking note of what emerged during the investigation, the Presidency of the Council resolved to overcome the lack of agreement of the Umbria Region, expressing itself favourably with the provision of 31 July 2019.
Consequently to the resolution of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and given the widely intervened deadline of the terms of the procedure, on 16 March 2020 the Ministry of Economic Development issued the decree of an geothermal exploration permit for the pilot plant of “Castel Giorgio”, to ITW LKW Geotermia Italia SpA, in agreement with the Ministry of the Environment and the protection of the territory and the sea, in compliance with the 2018 ruling of the Regional Administrative Court for Umbria, which declares the obligation of the same Mise to take action on the application presented by the appellant company.
Finally – concludes Patuanelli in response to Battistoni – the Ministry of the Environment and the protection of the territory and the sea is referred to any further and new assessment regarding the seismicity of the places affected by the ‘Castel Giorgio’ plant.”