Venice to establish new, green energy resource through the use of algae

Green TransitionNewsTop stories

Venice, a floating city on an archipelago, has always been one of the most interesting cities in Italy. It is most famous for its tourism, historical and cultural heritage. Lately, the local administration introduced several interesting strategies for Venice’s transition towards green energy consumption.

At the start of the last decade, Venice energy sources mainly came from coal and natural gas. However, the implemented projects sought to reverse this practice. The first one, started in 2014, is the establishment of the first biorefinery in the world, called Ecofining plant. This facility was converted from regular refinery into the one producing green source of energy.

This project was supported by the local government and Eni company. At the time, Eni introduced patented innovation to this facility, which enabled it to produce bio oil. This oil is hydrogenated vegetable oil, also known as HVO. It comes from processing various vegetables. These were used as an addition to diesel fuel at the time and were completely made out of renewable sources.

The project was further supported in 2018, when it got redeveloped. The purification plant was introduced, with the goal of processing crude vegetable oil, instead of the pre-treated one. This enabled the plant to transform cooking, waste vegetable oils and animal fat into the production processes.

The results of this new strategy showed great results in the following years. In 2020, with an authorised capacity of 400,000 tonnes per year, this bio-refinery converted 220,000 tonnes of raw materials into HVO. Out of these 220,000 tonnes, 25% were consisted of cooking oil, animal fat and other waste vegetable oils. 

There are also plans for expanding Ecofining plant. The new lines for biomass treatment are already being installed. This will enable the facility to enhance its supply of biological materials and it will expand the existing network of supply, primarily feedstock options, which will in turn enable more efficiency.

In 2024, the plant will be further expanded, increasing its production capacity to 560,000 tonnes per year. This will enable this facility to supply around 420,000 tonnes of bio fuel to the market.

Besides this biorefinery, the local administration supported another interesting and major project. Since the waters of Venice are rich with algae, the main reason why the water is green there, the local administration came up with an innovative idea. Back in 2009, the first ideas for using algae as the energy resource were presented. However, this was delayed until 2020, when new joint effort was established. 

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro, the City Council and the renewable energy company Enalg established a new partnership. Enalg focuses on the introduction of algae as renewable resource of energy to the coastal cities. 

The plan is to construct a 270 million euro worth facility which will enable the usage of algae as energy source. In this facility, there will be different processes which will cultivate local water flora. When this is done, the methane produced by this biomass will be harnessed.

These materials will then be processed into biomass-powered steam generator, which is planned to supply 40 megawatts. This will present 50% of the annual energy demand of the city.

The final part of the strategy for transition towards renewable energy is the installation of solar panels. These installations are proposed by the City Council and Mayor Brugnaro, with high support from the private sector. The main goal of this strategy will be the production of 32 megawatts annually for consumption usage. (photo credit: Kit Suman/Unsplash)