The Cittadella Biodistrict

The Cittadella Biodistrict

In the Cittadella business district (Padua), at the foot of the Venetian Prealps, we are developing a biodistrict for the production of certified Italian pellets with the installation of a cogeneration plant with a capacity of 999 kWe and 4 MWthand a pellet production facility with a capacity of approximately 60,000 tons a year. In Italy, 80% of pellets are made from foreign wood. With the aim of optimising the local community’s natural resources, Renovo has launched a project based on recovering scrap wood resources through the harvesting of biomass in the provinces of Treviso, Vicenza, Belluno and Trento, thus giving rise to a virtuous “woodland-wood-energy” system to exploit woodlands and the local forest economy. In particular, the biomass used in the cogeneration plant will be locally sourced (within 70 km of the production facility).

This project is derived from the innovative model that we have created: a model that responds to energy needs by simultaneously developing projects that, starting from the local community, whether rural or industrialised, systematically pool unused natural resources and waste to create value in terms of the economy, business, and protection and development of the environment and social fabric. In keeping with this vision, agreements have been reached with forestry companies for the supply of virgin wood chips, and with sawmills and carpenters to obtain their production scraps, and direct management has been assumed of several woodland areas in order to complete multi-year felling plans. From the environmental standpoint, sourcing activities will result in proper maintenance and management of woodland areas, while making a valuable contribution to the prevention of landslides, fires and floods. Agreements have also been reached with the association FederlegnoArredo governing the sale of fine wood to furniture companies represented by the association in a way that respects the potential added value offered by the various species. The initiative has equal social value: once fully operational, it will create approximately 75 new jobs (directly, indirectly and in related businesses), with a special emphasis on the weakest, most disadvantaged groups of the population.

The project’s two plants are synergistically integrated: on the one hand, the waste generated in the production of pellets is used as energy biomass, while, on the other, thermal energy is used to dry the virgin wood from which the pellets are made. This will result in increased energy and resource efficiency, with an estimated annual savings of approximately 32,700 tons of CO2. The pellets will also have supply chain certification attesting to their environmental sustainability according to the highest quality standard, ENplus A1.

In light of the above, Legambiente, Italy’s largest environmental association, has also endorsed the project based in Cittadella, creating a joint roundtable with Renovo to promote certified Italian pellets.
On the basis of its method for calculating the SROI (Social Return on Investment), used to assess a project’s socioeconomic impact, the average annual social return is estimated at 7.8% of invested capital.
The renewable energy component of the Cittadella Biodistrict was created with the involvement of the ethical fund Green Star – Bioenergy Sub-fund. (link)
Both the cogeneration plant and the pellet production facility have obtained the necessary permits: construction work is scheduled to begin in spring 2016.

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