Enel has entered into an agreement with Enea and Itea over a testing project to reduce emissions at coal-fired power plants to near zero.

Under the terms of the agreement, Enel, Enea (Agency for New Technology, Energy and the Environment) and Itea, a Sofinter Group company, will develop an advanced high-efficiency combustion technology for coal-fired power plants that will reduce all emissions to near zero.

The new process, which is patented by Itea and has already undergone 4,000 hours of testing at a 5MW pilot plant, can handle solid fuels, reducing the creation of pollutants to a minimum while providing high energy efficiency. This process, which leverages the knowledge developed under a Itea-Enea research project on energy recovery from residual materials, produces a combustion gas can composed essentially of CO2, which facilitates the removal and subsequent sequestration of this greenhouse gas.

The agreement provides for an initial stage devoted to experimentation and modeling to determine the scope for scaling up the process. A commercial plant of between 35MWe and 70MWe to be located at an Enel coal-fired power plant will be designed. This phase will last one year.

If the emissions abatement data and the findings of the technical and financial studies are as expected, the second phase will involve the construction of the commercial plant, which will be the first Italian power plant with ‘near-zero’ emissions. It will take about three years to build and start operations at this plant.

Enel will shoulder two thirds of the development costs in the first phase of the project, with the remaining third being met by Itea.

It is anticipated that the results of the project will enable the Italian industrial system to play a leading international role in this area, especially in view of the new EU programs for the development of zero-emissions fossil fuel power plants.