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Region of Tuscany implements new regulation on geothermal development

Lardarello geothermal power plant by Enel, Tuscany/ Italy
Alexander Richter 22 Apr 2015

Tuscany passes new legislation to ensure geothermal development goes faster, safer and more seamlessly.

After much deliberation and negotiation, the Italian Parliament has just passed a recent law that aims to bolster the development of the country’s untapped geothermal potential. The actual text passed by ” The Committees VIII and X, given that: – “geothermal” is a form of energy that originates from the natural heat of the earth, and among other renewable energies, has an added value that shares only with hydropower: the continuity of production of electricity (baseload).

Geothermal energy, then, can be understood as an important element in the “green economy” and of significant support to develop policies that focus on “low carbon” emissions; – proper development of geothermal energy also brings with it not only environmental benefits, contributing significantly to fight against climate change, but also offers important opportunities for the creation of new jobs; – Italy, for its morphological characteristics, has significant geothermal resources that are currently underused: according to figures provided by the unione geotermica italiana, the geothermal resources of the Italian territory potentially extractable from depths of up to 5 km are of the order of 21 exajoules (21×1018 joule, corresponding to about 500 mtoe, or 500 million tonnes of oil equivalent). The high enthalpy geothermal fields, the exploitation of which we have a mature technology and plentiful know-how, and whose use for the production of geothermal energy can now be cost-competitive with other energy sources, are in between Tuscany, Lazio and Campania – in Sicily and Sardinia as well as in the volcanic islands of the Tyrrhenian Sea, then considered the importance and the strategic importance of geothermal energy, committing the Government to:

– to initiate the zoning of the Italian territory, for the various types of geothermal plants, identifying areas potentially exploitable in line with the forecasts of the European guidelines regarding the use of geothermal resources, and in line with the national energy strategy;

– to issue, within six months ‘guidelines’ by the Ministries of Economic Development and Environment and Protection of Land and Sea, which identify the context of suitable areas referred to in the preceding paragraph also general evaluation criteria, aimed at exploiting safety, bearing in mind the implications that the geothermal activity involves relative to the overall water balance, the risk of pollution of water, air quality, the induction of micro seismicity;

– to release, following the issuance of the guidelines, all authorizations for projects of geothermal plants, including those relating to the ongoing proceedings, in accordance with the requirements specified therein to ensure that, in the environmental impact assessment (EIA), are taken into account in particular the implications that entails the geothermal activity on the risk of pollution of the water, the quality air, induction of micro seismicity;

– to take initiatives to reduce procedure times for permits in order to enable the development of activities aimed at the use of new technologies for the exploitation of geothermal resources, at the sole expense financial private, in order to bring the industry to compete in the world as a leader of renewable energy;

– to encourage the development and diffusion of low enthalpy geothermal energy, (ie to plants that use heat to small depth), for the important contribution which can make to reducing the energy requirements

– to take steps to review the existing incentive mechanisms, as a renewable source, in order to give more support to those energy sources that have less environmental impact; – to take initiatives to harmonize the various incentive schemes currently in operating for geothermal;

– to take steps to include in the regulations, with appropriate penalties, the obligation of the sealing of the well suited to avoid the possibility of exchange of fluids between different aquifers and the obligation to avoid the depletion of water resources of groundwater and surface water in terms of quantity and quality;

– to take initiatives to make the issue of permits to the signing of a surety policy to cover any damages environment, public health and productive activities surrounding;

– to take steps to ensure that regulations for plants already in the system and for those who may be carried out both scheduled (on pain of suspension of the license) a system of environmental controls carried out by the competent Regional Agency for Environmental Protection, at the expense of the licensee, to assess (on pain of suspension of the license) that geothermal activities do not affect the chemistry of water intended for human consumption following the requirements of the Legislative Decree n. 31 of 2001, that other environmental contamination and not prove that the micro seismicity does not increase significantly, while also providing the results of controls and additional monitoring to be carried out according to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Economic Development, are disseminated to the public timely acquisition through the Internet sites of the operator, the authority and scope of the environmental agency responsible for that territory.

To access the official release, please follow the link below:

Source: Distretto delle Energie Rennovabili