The Caltagirone Circular Economy Hub

The Caltagirone Circular Economy Hub

In the  Municipality of Caltagirone, in the heart of Sicily, Renovo is creating a technology hub composed of three integrated plants, in pursuit of renewable energy, the use of local natural resources and waste and green chemistry. An innovative circular economy project founded on the local community’s own value.

The first currently under construction is a cogeneration plant with a capacity of 1 MWe and 4MWth fuelled by biomass obtained from agricultural and forest waste harvested from  local sources (within 70 km of the plant). These precious resources are sourced directly in Sicily from artichoke and milk thistle waste (Renovo has begun to grow this latter plant on marginal land and it can also be used to produce honey): no food-use biomass will be used. This cogeneration plant will serve the other two, thanks to an industrial district heating system that will transfer the cogenerated thermal energy and allow the full energy potential of agricultural and forest biomass to be realised.

The first plant to be powered will produce presswood pallets made from 100% post-use wood: thanks to an agreement with CONAI, Renovo will have the opportunity to recycle the thousands of tons of post-consumption wood produced in Sicily each year, giving it new life in the form of environmentally friendly presswood pallets. Not least important is the project’s environmental value: this wood used to disposed of by companies based on northern Italy, resulting in a significant environmental impact due to transport.

The second plant, developed in collaboration with the National Research Council, allows the extraction of two secondary chemical compounds, pectin and limonene, from orange pulp, a type of agro-industrial waste that is plentiful in Sicily and that currently requires high disposal costs. These two compounds may be used in biocosmetics products, new biomedical and pharmaceutical applications and industry.

This circular economy project is rooted in the local community and will generate economic, business and social value for that same community. According to our estimates, the entire project will generate a savings of approximately 33,000 tons of CO2 a year, considering the benefits deriving from renewable energy and the recycling of post-consumption wood. In addition, from the social standpoint, we have struck a partnership with the Il Nodo Social Cooperative based in Catania to promote the inclusion of disadvantaged workers in the workforce. When fully operational, the Circular Economy Hub will offer new jobs to approximately 100 individuals.

The renewable energy component of the Circular Economy Hub was created in part with the involvement of the ethical real-estate fund Green Star – Bioenergy Sub-fund.
An innovative project that Legambiente, committed to promoting the circular economy in Italy, supports as partner.

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