Sulcis Power Station

From Global Energy Monitor

Sulcis Power Station is a proposed 350-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in Sardinia, Italy. The proposal would include carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The proposal is different from Enel's 585 MW coal-fired power station called Sulcis, built between 1965-2005.[1]


The map below shows Nuraxi Figus, the approximate location where the plant would be built.

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Plans for a coal-fired power plant in southwestern Sardinia date back over two decades, and originally involved a 450 MW IGCC coal-fired plant. In 1994, an Italian presidential decree authorized the Progetto Integrato IGCC Sulcis, which provided Italian government support and funding for an IGCC (Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle) plant fueled by locally mined coal. By 1999, the project had obtained a favorable Environmental Impact Assessment, but technical and economic difficulties prompted the Italian government to withdraw its support in 2003.

In 2005, the Sulcis project was revived under law 80/2005, which permitted the use of technologies other than gasification and called for the sale of electricity to Sardinian industries at government-subsidized prices.[2] In 2007, a U.S. Department of Energy report listed "Sulcis IGCC Project" as being a 957 megawatt project with a notional commissioning date of 2009.[3]

In 2008 the European Commission started infringement proceedings against the proposed plant, on the grounds that Italian government price supports created unfair barriers to competition and that preferential pricing for high-volume energy consumers violated EC state aid rules.[4]

The EC investigation prompted Italy to withdraw the project and propose a modified version, known as Progetto Integrato CCS Sulcis, on July 23, 2009. The new proposal, enacted as law 99/2009, called for a 350 MW to 450 MW demonstration project that would reduce CO2 emissions through the use of CCS (Carbon Capture and Sequestration) technology, an approach favored by the European Union. In June 2011, the Italian firm Sotacarbo released a feasibility study for the new plant, which recommended a 450-megawatt Ultra-Supercritical unit equipped with SNOX technology for the removal of sulfur and nitrogen oxides.[2][5]

While Italy's revised proposal eliminated preferential pricing for high-volume energy consumers, in accordance with the EU's wishes, it retained price supports in the form of subsidies to the plant operator over a 20-year period, designed to bridge the gap between prevailing market prices and a guaranteed target price agreed to by the government. This prompted the EC to launch a new inquiry in November 2012 regarding the plant's compliance with EU state aid rules.[6]

In September 2013, Italy's Ministry of Economic Development issued a draft legislative decree entitled "Fare 2", which reiterated the government's intention to subsidize the Sulcis plant over a 20-year period, providing the plant operator with an incentive of 30 euros per megawatt-hour.[7] This proposal provoked criticism from numerous community and environmental groups, including Italian renewable energy advocate QualEnergia, which ridiculed both the cost of government incentives and the use of the term "clean coal" in promoting the plant,[8] and the WWF, which called the plant Italy's 'umpteenth cathedral in the desert' and flatly stated that the plant was too expensive and unnecessary given the enormous surplus of productive capacity in Italy's existing power grid.[9]

In February 2014 the Italian Parliament established a subsidy for the construction of a 350 MW CCS demonstration plant in the Sulcis Iglesiente area of Sardinia.[10] Thirty million euros have been allocated to build up a research centre for "clean energy" in Sardinia.[11] The agreement was between Enea, Sotacarbo, and the Italian government, and includes funding for research into CCS and coal gasification. Design of the power station would begin in 2017.[12]

With no developments since February 2014, plans for the plant appear to be deferred or abandoned.

Project Details

  • Sponsor: Enea
  • Parent company:
  • Location: Nuraxi Figus, Gonnessa, Sulcis-Iglesiente, Carbonia-Iglesias, Sardinia, Italy
  • Coordinates: 39.223768, 8.431664 (approximate)
  • Status: Cancelled (no developments for over four years)
  • Gross Capacity: 350 MW
  • Type: CCS
  • Projected in service:
  • Coal Type: Sub-bituminous
  • Coal Source: Nuraxi Figus coal mine
  • Source of financing:

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