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• “Alessandro Volta” as a main player in the energy transition

Rome : A factory for the manufacturing of solar trackers, the devices that allow photovoltaic panels to orient themselves and follow the sun throughout the day, set up inside the Montalto di Castro power plant: this is the result of an agreement between Enel and Comal, a company that builds photovoltaic plants and is based in the municipality of Viterbo (Lazio).

Comal’s Tracker Sun Hunter factory, for which preparatory works are set to get underway in the early months of the year, will be located in an area of over 30,000 square meters, no longer used for the plant’s energy activities, and will employ up to 70 workers at maximum output, generating a potential opportunity also for the re-employment of personnel engaged in various activities linked to thermoelectric plants being decommissioned in northern Lazio. The aim is to produce wholly Italian trackers to support a photovoltaic energy production of up to 1 GW per year, thus contributing to the growth of a national renewable energy supply chain and bringing back to Italy the production of devices that until now were imported.

The Montalto di Castro plant is at the center of a major development focused on the needs of the electricity system and the opportunities created by the energy transition, a plan that will see the creation of a new energy hub integrated between initiatives in the energy sector, developed by Enel, and new business solutions developed by third parties. The initiative is part of the Enel Group’s broader commitment to the new development of the sites of its disused plants, following a redevelopment strategy that prioritizes the leveraging of existing structures and the integration of new renewable production plants and storage systems, combined with new business projects in different areas.

The demolition of decommissioned oil-fired units is underway at the site. Enel has started the authorization process required to be able to build a new photovoltaic plant on the site which covers an area of about 20 hectares, with a capacity of about 10 MW. Other areas under development (six hectares) will be used to house energy storage systems amounting to about 245 MW, thus making a further contribution to the use of renewable energies and to the stability of the electricity system: in this case too, the authorization procedures are already underway.

In line with the indications of Italy’s National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) and to encourage the country’s exit from coal, renovated turbogas plants which have been made more efficient will remain in operation at the Alessandro Volta facility.

In order to complete the development of the site, which will be the largest of the multifunctional energy production facilities that Enel is building in Italy, further solutions are being studied, which are currently the subject of dialogue with local institutions and which will make it possible to leverage existing assets and structures, thus ensuring positive spin-offs for the area; these include an innovative hydroponic greenhouse project, for which technical and economic feasibility analyses are currently underway and which will benefit from the areas and part of the existing facilities.

“The agreement with Comal and the new development of the Montalto di Castro site, offer a concrete demonstration of the positive effects of the energy transition for businesses, for the regions and for the country,” said Luca Solfaroli Camillocci, Head of Enel Green Power and Thermal Generation Italy. “The virtuous circle that brings together the growth of renewable energy sources, the development of a national supply chain of sustainable technologies and the reuse of assets in a circular economy enables the generation of shared value and new opportunities.”

“Together with Enel, we have embarked on a path that makes the energy transition set out in national and EU programs a reality,” commented Mayor of Montalto di Castro, Sergio Caci. “It is clear how the industrial site of Montalto di Castro is gradually being transformed in accordance with the territory. I am even prouder that a local company, which has invested a great deal of energy in photovoltaics and the engineering of photovoltaic elements, has decided to build them on site, using an area within the former power station. Comal has amazed us again, after its entry on the Milan stock exchange, it now offers an unprecedented opportunity for development and employment. I would like to thank Guido Paolini who, having had the intuition to focus on young people, in addition to benefiting his company and its employees, is giving a great opportunity to our community.”

Alfredo Balletti, CEO of Comal, commented: “We are very proud of this collaboration with Enel, one of the main players in the energy transition in Italy. As a result of this agreement, the Montalto di Castro power station will be able to experience a new industrial season, a benefit that will also fall on the territory thanks to the creation of numerous new direct and indirect jobs. We would like to thank the Mayor and the Municipal Administration, who have always been willing to support this important industrial redevelopment project, which will make it possible to produce Sun Hunter trackers entirely in Italy, bringing back to Italy the production of devices that until now were being imported from foreign markets. The in-house production of trackers has huge potential, with the latest installations in 2021 totaling more than 250 MWp.”

Enel is a multinational power company and a leading integrated player in the global power and renewables markets. It is the largest European utility by ordinary EBITDA, and is present in over 30 countries worldwide, producing energy with around 90 GW of installed capacity. Enel distributes electricity through a network of over 2.2 million kilometers, and with around 75 million grid customers is the 1st network operator globally1.

Enel Green Power is the world’s largest renewable private player, with around 51 GW of wind, solar, geothermal, and hydropower plants installed in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Enel X, Enel’s global advanced energy services business line, is the worldwide demand response leader, with a total capacity of around 7.7 GW managed globally; the company has installed 195 MW of storage capacity as well as, in the electric mobility sector, about 245,000 EV charging points2 around the globe.

About Comal

Comal S.p.A. is a company operating in the field of plant engineering for the production of energy from solar sources, based in Montalto di Castro (VT). Founded in 2001, the company builds large-scale photovoltaic installations using EPCM (Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management) and O&M (Operation & Maintenance) formulas. Comal handles the design, construction of structural and robotic components, installation of the system, testing, commissioning and maintenance (turnkey project). It is also a pioneer in the implementation of grid parity photovoltaic systems – cost-effective without the need for incentives. In addition to the construction of photovoltaic plants, the company also carries out routine and non-routine maintenance work at power plants that produce energy from conventional sources (mainly thermoelectric power plants).

Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network