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EGP celebrates two centuries of geothermal energy in Larderello

5 min.

EGP celebrates two centuries of geothermal energy in Larderello

The industrial geothermal plants in Larderello, Tuscany, have turned 200 years old. A long history that is spreading from Italy to the entire world. Enel Green Power pays tribute to one of the oldest sources of renewable energy with an event organised with the CNR.

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It’s two hundred years old but doesn’t show it. The geothermal industry turns two centuries and is showing no signs of age. Actually, it continues to grow, thanks to innovation.

It was 8 May 1818 when, near the village of Montecerboli, the French-born merchant Francesco Giacomo Larderel started work on the first plant able to use geothermal waters for the production of boric acid.

The Larderello area is now a centre for global geothermal energy and provides clean and sustainable energy to the entire area. 

“Enel Green Power’s plants in the Larderello area have an installed capacity of 0.8 GW and provide energy to more than 10,000 users, including private homes, public services and industrial activities.”


A History with Roots in the Territory

Following his initial pioneering attempts, over the following decades, Larderel perfected the extraction techniques he had invented and contributed to the industrial and economic growth of the entire area

“To recognise the efforts of the French-born merchant, in 1846 the Grand Duke of Tuscany Leopoldo II gave Larderel the title Count of Montecerboli and, in his honour, changed the name of the town to Larderello, as it is now known throughout the world.”

The use of geothermal energy to produce electricity started at the beginning of the 20th century, when the Prince Piero Ginori Conti succeeded in channelling the heat from the earth into a dynamo able to light five light bulbs.

In 1916, the power plant was already able to produce 2750 Kw, enough electricity to power the village of Larderello and nearby Volterra.

Over two centuries, the geothermal industry has matured and now, thanks to continuous and constant technological innovations, it is a renewable source able to produce clean electricity with low emission levels. 

“Geothermal energy is 200 years old but stays fashionable and maintains a young spirit, thanks to innovative technologies used.”
– Massimo Montemaggi, Head of Geothermal Energy, Enel Green Power


Looking to the Future, with an Eye on the Past

To pay tribute to the bicentennial of the Tuscan plants, we organised, together with the National Research Council (CNR), an event entitled “GEO200 - 200 Years of Industrial Use of the Larderello Site: Sustainable Geothermal Energy”, held on 7 and 8 May.

“The two days of meetings were a chance to celebrate the anniversary of the Conte di Larderel’s idea and to take stock of geothermal energy, a type of energy that still has a lot to say.”

On 7 May, we called the most important international scholars on geothermal energy to nearby Pisa. We spoke about the sustainability of the energy from the Earth’s heat.

The conference was opened by Massimo Montemaggi, EGP’s Head of Geothermal Energy, who spoke about how the experience gained in Tuscany is now fundamental for the development of new geothermal plants around the world. 

“In 2017, EGP opened the Cerro Pabellón geothermal plant, the first plant powered by vapours from the Earth in all of Latin America and the plant powered by the earth’s heat built at the highest point in the world.”

8 May was the day for a visit to the Larderello plant and its museum, a chance to relive the two hundred years of history of geothermal energy in Tuscany. An energy that has continued to burst forth with all its strength for 200 years.

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