The benefits of grid development

In 2010, Terna confirmed the acceleration implemented in these past years toward grid development with total investments for € 1,161.7 million (+30% compared to 2009). During the year of building sites, work was completed for the SA.PE.I., the submarine connection between Sardinia and the Italian mainland, for upgrading the Val d’Ossola grid and for the “Casellina-Tavarnuzze-Santa Barbara” power line in Tuscany while work is in progress for the “Sorgente-Rizziconi” connection between Sicily and Calabria and for the Chignolo Po-Maleo power line in Lombardy.

These projects, included in Terna’s Development Plan, will have many benefits for the community not only because they improve the efficiency and safety of the electricity system for everyone, but also because they will produce collective economic advantages in terms of reducing electricity bills, advantages that exceed their cost. Terna has also constantly increased in the past years its building capacity (investments rose from € 346 million in 2006 to € 1,161.7 million in 2010), generating employment and growth in a time of economic turmoil in Italy. In 2010, only in Terna’s building sites, thousands of people were employed totalling 1,973 full time employees, without considering the activities created by purchasing other goods and services.

Terna carries out its role in the electricity system, particularly for supplying a service that must have characteristics of safety, reliability, continuity and affordability, with a sense of responsibility toward the entire community which is the end user of the electricity service. This allows also carefully considering the environmental consequences of its activities and seeking benefits for the environment connected to grid development.
Particularly significant are the upgrading projects that involve, with respect to new ones, the removal of many kilometers of existing grid compared to the kilometers of new lines to be built. In 2010, the upgrade of the Bussolengo (VR) was completed with the removal of the old “Bussolengo-Chievo” electricity line: 27 km of new electricity lines were built, 24 of which in buried cable. Approximately 45 km of obsolete overhead lines were removed for a total of 160 pylons, with important environmental advantages.

 

The project was part of the broader plan to upgrade the HV electricity grid in the Bussolengo and Verona area that includes a series of works aimed at strengthening and creating greater safety for the territory’s electricity system with savings equal to € 1.3 million a year and significantly reducing the environmental impact of the transmission plants. Moreover, still in 2010, work began to remove the 132 kV Tirano-Campocologno overhead electricity line in Valtellina.

The project is part of the upgrading of the electricity grid in Valtellina, which in turn is part of an even broader restructuring project extended also to Valcamonica. With regard to the environment, removal of the old lines will lead to important benefits regarding respecting and protecting the territory. Once the work for removing the obsolete electricity lines is completed, a total area of 1,400,000 sq.mt. of land will be eased in Valtellina involving mountains areas of particular value.

An additional environmental benefit connected to grid development will be the result of reduced CO2 emissions of the electricity system owing to the reduction of losses and above all to more efficient productive assets made possible by development investments as well as connections to renewable source plants (+2,470 MW in 2010). Overall, investments included in the 2011 Development Plan will lead to reducing 9 million tons of CO2, 5 of which for connections to renewable source plants.

In 2010, a significant contribution was made also by the activities of Rete Rinnovabile S.r.l., Terna’s 100% subsidiary and sold in March 2011 which with its 62 photovoltaic solar plants located in 11 Italian regions in only one year of activity increased by 10% the Italian photovoltaic solar production, with a saving when fully operating, of approximately 135 million tons of CO2 emissions. The electricity grid’s sustainable development also includes searching for shared projects with territorial authorities pursued using the SEA method - Strategic Environmental Assessment. Not only for the approval of the Development Plan, but also voluntarily on the territory (since 2002) with the local authorities for each significant project. Still with respect to stakeholder involvement, it is highly important to include historically critical partners such as environmentalist associations in the decision-making process for identifying locations of the new lines.

 

In this respect, in January 2009, a partnership was established with the WWF Italia for integrating planning criteria for the electricity grid with the WWF’s eco-regional preservation strategy and planning environmental enhancement measures in various naturalistic WWF oases. In 2010, environmental mitigation and compensation measures were implemented in the Tuscan WWF Oases of Stagni in Focognano (FI) and Padule-Orti Bottagone (LI) and in Sicily in the Torre Salsa (AG) oasis.

The vision of a sustainable electricity grid is also focused on pylons, the elements that characterize electricity lines and which are also the most visually impacting on the environment. Solutions are being researched that consider them not only as necessary infrastructures, but also objects with their own aesthetic dimension that can better be integrated into the landscape. This awareness has led Terna to constantly focus on industrial design: the pylons designed by Sir Norman Foster have already been installed in Tuscany along the “Tavarnuzze-Santa Barbara” electricity line and are visible underneath the Scandicci (FI), highway exit. In 2010 the new pylons designed by the architect Hugh Dutton of the Rosental studio – winner of the International Contest that ended in 2009 – were engineered. Furthermore, still in 2010, the new tubular single pole pylons that drastically reduce both the visual impact and ground volume were installed on the Chignolo Po-Maleo electricity line in Lombardy.