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Innovation, development and research

Research and constant innovation are essential factors for pursuing the objectives which the A2A Group has set itself and which are set out in its Charter of Values. These are activities which thanks also to the collaboration of external organizations such as research institutions and bodies provide considerable value added to the Group’s development and growth.

District heating development plan for Milan

The realization of the “District heating development plan for the city of Milan” continued in 2011; this plan has as its objective the upgrading of district heating throughout the city in order to achieve a significant reduction in the polluting emissions deriving from energy requirements for city heating.

The plan envisages the further development of the single sections of district heating already active and their gradual combination through the interconnection of the networks in order to construct macro-systems fed by a wide variety of sources. In this way the use of technologies that maximize the energy and environmental efficiency of heat production will be increased: the recovery of energy from the disposal of waste, the use of renewable sources through the deployment of water table heat pumps and the cogeneration of thermal energy and electricity.

Among the more significant activities performed in 2011 were the further extension of the district heating network and of the power of the users connected to the Canavese section, which have increased by approximately 20% and 50% in 2011 respectively: since 2011 the courthouse is also one of the users supplied by the Canavese district heating system. Standing out within the sphere of heat production plants are the activities to increase thermal recovery at the AMSA Silla 2 waste to energy plant by strengthening the heat exchange section and installing new gas boilers at the Famagosta station. 

New heating-cooling plant with cogeneration at Varese hospital

Varese Risorse S.p.A. is implementing a project for the construction of a heating-cooling plant with cogeneration at the new Varese Hospital. On September 24, 2009 the thermal section of this new plant entered service; this produces steam and hot water to support/supplement the district heating by means of three dual fuel boilers (natural gas and diesel) and has a heating core power of ~27 MWt.

The cooling section (total installed power of 10 MWf through 4 absorption groups, 2 fuelled by hot water and 2 by steam) and cogeneration section (1 MWe motor) of the new plant will enter service in September 2011.

Completion of this project will enable “trigeneration” (the combined generation of electricity, heat and cooling), which is seen by everybody as the new frontier of cogeneration, to be achieved. In addition, there will be a significant saving of energy and reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions arising from the increase in the number of hours worked in cogeneration mode by the turbogas having nominal power of 5 MWe located in the Via Rossi district heating plant.

The total savings achieved in this way will be entitled to white certificates (Energy Efficiency Credits). 

A2A S.P.A. Electric Mobility

E-moving is the electric mobility project being promoted by A2A in partnership with Renault and in conjunction with the municipal administrations of Brescia and Milan. A2A is in charge of realizing the infrastructure for the recharging of electric cars while Renault provides the vehicles from its zero emission range (saloon cars and small vans) which is equipped with the latest generation lithium-ion batteries.

The pilot stage took off in June 2010 and continued for the whole of 2011. The two Lombardy municipalities see themselves becoming the cities of reference for electric mobility in Italy, being the first to begin developing a complete cutting edge structured electric recharging network with a total of 270 recharging points, of which around 150 will be available for the use of motorists in public places (roads, parking lots etc.) while the remainder will be for private use (garages, condominium parking lots, business parking lots).

As of today, 18 columns have been installed in Brescia, making a total of 36 recharging points; as regards private points, 3 have been set up at Renault dealers and 31 are aimed at company fleets and private users.

In Milan 32 columns have been installed for a total of 64 recharging points on public land. For the private areas there are 10 recharging points at Cadorna station, where a short while ago the new electric car-sharing service E-VAI, created out of the collaboration between the Region of Lombardy, A2A, Trenitalia – Ferrovie Nord and Sems, a company of the Fnm group, was inaugurated. Eight recharging points have been set up at Renault dealers (the partner in  the project), 4 in A2A areas and 4 in areas belonging to the Municipality. To these a further 40 recharging points at ATM interchange points are about to be added.

The objective of E-moving is to test every component of the electric mobility operating model: the technology and the locating of the recharging infrastructure, the processes and commercial solutions, the interaction between the recharging network and the vehicles, the supply of energy, the billing systems, battery management and car maintenance.

Consistent with the initiative’s environmental aims, the electricity to fuel the vehicles will mostly be produced from renewable sources, a factor useful in pursuing the objective of having a complete zero emission cycle. 

 Acerra waste to energy plant

The Acerra waste to energy plant exceeded its annual target of 600 thousand tonnes of waste, corresponding to its nominal capacity, a few days early, on 23 December. At the same time the plant put 538 million GWh of electricity into the grid, equivalent to the annual needs of around 200 thousand households, thereby avoiding the use of 100 thousand tones of oil.

Particular emphasis has been placed on environmental aspects: the waste to energy plant is equipped with leading edge combustion gas purification technologies and as part of the structural improvement measures envisaged by the Integrated Environmental Authorization the following have been installed at the Acerra (province of Naples) waste to energy plant under specific instructions from the Prime Minister’s Office: a portal measuring the radioactivity of the vehicles transporting the waste, a second continuous monitoring system for controlling furnace emissions (SME), a continuous system for monitoring the mercury in the fumes and a system for sampling micro- pollutants (PAHs, dioxins and furans and PCBs).

These instruments entered full service in February 2011. 

Project for soundproofing double chamber compressors for the collection of glass and paper

The objective of this project is to identify measures to soundproof the rear part of the double chamber compressors used in the city of Milan to collect glass and paper and evaluate these by testing.

Between 2011 and 2012, 36 vehicles will be equipped with a rear cap soundproofing system developed by Amsa which consists in the installation of sound absorption panels inside and outside equipment and a hydraulic system aimed at slowing down the speed at which glass falls into the collecting bin. The sound absorption material has a composite and stratified nature, while the intervention on the equipment envisages the presence of a flap positioned on the mouth from which the glass falls, activated by a hydraulic cylinder which remains in a closed position when the bin is emptied and subsequently assumes an open position.

This interruption to the fall and the panel soundproofing have enabled a reduction of up to 12  decibels to be achieved at the rear part of the vehicle and at a distance of 6 meters when the glass is being collected, which in terms of noise peaks, measured in pascals, means a decrease from 40 to 10 Pa. 

District heating from the Cassano d’Adda thermoelectric plant - auxiliary boiler

The Cassano d’Adda (MI) thermoelectric plant produces electricity by means of two combined cycles for a total installed electric power of 995 MW. The heat for the district heating users of the Cassano d’Adda municipality is extracted from the combined cycles. As of today the power installed with users amounts to approximately 33 thermal MW; the development plan for the district heating network envisages a further increase in users during 2011 and 2012 and also includes the district of Albignano in the municipality of Truccazzano (MI). 

 Brescia waste to energy plant: air nozzle testing in the nox reduction system

Following the start of industrial use of the new high-dust catalyzers on all three combustion lines at the end of 2010 (an initiative included in a European research project called NextGenBioWaste – Innovative Demonstration for the Next Generation of Biomass and Waste combustion plants for energy recovery and renewable electricity production), since June 2011 testing has been taking place on optimizing the non-catalytic reduction system (SNCR) with which the plant has been equipped since it entered use. An air nozzle will be installed on line 3 to inject ammonia solution into the combustion chamber to check the possibility of replacing the present water injection system in order to obtain better nebulization and hence a more effective reaction of the ammonia to reduce NOx. 

Brescia waste to energy plant: new fire detection system in the waste bunker

Since the end of 2010 a system of infra-red television cameras connected to monitors situated in the control room and the overhead travelling crane command cabin has been in service at the plant, the first application of this type on a waste bunker, with the aim of detecting sources of heat in the waste in the bunker in order to prevent potential fires breaking out in the bunker and in any case enabling the equipment to be maneuvered in the event of poor visibility, for example in the case of intervention with remote-controlled hydrants on the source of a fire. 

 Brescia waste to energy plant: inertization of fly ash (cosmos project)

A project has been initiated for the inertization of fly ash through the use of pilot equipment to check the effectiveness of the process, which has already been demonstrated in laboratory tests, also on a pre-industrial scale.

The process for rendering end filtration dust inert has been developed by the University of Brescia and is funded by the European Commission as part of the LIFE+08 Program - Project ENV/IT/434 title COSMOS "COlloidal Silica Medium to Obtain Safe inert".

The equipment, which is located in an area of approximately 100 m2 inside the Brescia waste to energy plant, is made up of four separate units:

  1. storage and moving of dusts and liquids;
  2. blending of dusts with suitable additives;
  3. dosage of dusts and additives/control panel;
  4. sludge washing.

A reverse osmosis system has been installed at the Monfalcone (province of Gorizia) thermoelectric station for the production of demi water previously obtained with ion exchange resins. The use of hydrochloric acid and soda has been eliminated through the introduction of the reverse osmosis system.