A concentrating solar power (CSP) plant to be built by Enel Green Power is intended to demonstrate how sustainability in urban centres can be improved.

The Italian renewable energy company has signed a memorandum of understanding with Roma Capitale and ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, to build and test a pilot plant in Rome that uses solar energy to generate electricity as well as process steam.

The Trebios solar plant will produce 1-5 MW of electricity and will be integrated with a biomass plant that will use the process steam to produce ethanol for use as a fuel in Rome’s fleet of public transport vehicles.

The plant will be equipped with a thermal energy storage system to ensure the continuous production of electricity. Biomass for the pilot plant will be sourced from farming and forestry resources around the city of Rome, including prunings from the city’s trees.

The process steam from Trebios will be used to split the biomass into its component parts – lignin and cellulosic components. The lignin can be used in the thermal energy storage system of the CSP plant to support electricity generation, while the cellulosic components will undergo a fermentation process to produce ethanol.

In a statement Enel Green Power said: “The Trebios project marks an important stepping stone on the way to reducing CO2 emissions and the environmental impact of urban mobility.”