Image credit: ENEA

Enel Green Power and ENEA, Italy’s National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development, have signed an agreement to test technology that combines photovoltaic electricity production with microalgae cultivation.

A pilot plant will be built at the ENEA Center in Portici (Naples, Italy) to study and demonstrate how two solar and microalgae technologies can be integrated. Combined with the study, a scalability analysis will be carried out for applications on larger photovoltaic plants.

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The trial involves cultivating microalgae with a high commercial value (between 100 and 200 euros per kilogram) with a crop system fully integrated within the photovoltaic plant.

The advantages are in producing electricity from renewable sources and valuable substances to be used in food and supplements, as well as reducing CO2 emissions that are absorbed and transformed into biomass, added to those already avoided through photovoltaic electricity production.

Nicola Rossi, Enel Green Power’s head of innovation, said: “The partnership with ENEA is part of a broader plan to demonstrate innovative solutions that integrate agricultural and livestock production activities with our photovoltaic systems that we are carrying out with various research and agricultural partners to promote more efficient land use and identify opportunities for creating shared value with the areas and communities that host our plants.

“The results of these trials offer us the opportunity to identify effective activities that meet local needs in synergy with the goal of producing low-cost, emission-free energy. This is the key to making renewable generation even more sustainable in the long term.”

“With this agreement we are launching a new possible synergy for the shared use of the land that we have identified with our ‘algovoltaic’ brand and this is an ideal opportunity for the agrivoltaic sector, in which we are investing significant resources to implement the guidelines in Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan,” said Ezio Terzini, head of the Photovoltaic and Smart Devices Division of ENEA’s Renewable Energy Technologies Department.

The project is aligned with Italy’s National Energy and Climate Plan which is focused on the use of photovoltaics and the improvement of crops, the landscape and social acceptance.

The research is aimed at optimising land use related to large-scale photovoltaic systems, and contributing to solutions for space sharing for energy generation and agricultural activities.