The generation of electricity in Italy is characterized by a strong dependence on the import of primary energy sources and is essentially based on the use of fossil fuels, mainly oil and natural gas. This situation exposes the country to issues related to the security of energy supply, as experienced recently as a result of the reduction in gas imports. There are also the effects of fuel price volatility due to political events and trends in the international markets and their drift towards increasingly higher values. Finally, the consistent use of fossil fuels creates environmental problems due to emissions into the atmosphere.
The current trend to build new combined cycle power plants only from natural gas evolves the generating plants to the dependence on a dominant technology and only one type of fuel. On the other hand the popular aversion continues towards the use of coal, the use of which remains marginal, in contrast to what happens in other European countries. Electricity generation plants have a strong integration in the region. They must be able to overcome the effects of exceptional environmental phenomena and have to maintain their function and any damage should not cause further damage to the territory and to people.
In addition, to ensure the integrity and efficiency generation components over time requires the availability of accurate, reliable and effective methodologies which enable early detection of any damage to components and evolving malfunctions. In addition to preventing negative impact on the safety of people and facilities, the environment and electricity supply, these methods make it possible to implement an effective intervention strategy on system operation and maintenance, with the aim to substantially increase reliability and availability while reducing the overall costs of energy supply.
To address the issues related to the use of different fuels and the safety aspects of thermal power plants and the integrity of components, we felt the need to identify, develop and validate innovative solutions in the field of electricity production.
RSE research for thermal power plants cover the following topics:
- Gas: use of combined cycles
- Coal: the clean use of coal and mitigation of CO2 emissions
- Assessment of the safety of current nuclear generation facilities, technology choices and regulatory aspects
- Energy from waste
- Environmental aspects: pollutants