Innovative energy models for the competitiveness of agricultural businesses and the enhancement and protection of the Ligurian territory
FINANCING BODY: Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 Measure 16.01 - “Aid for the establishment and operation of EIP operational groups”, 1st phase - Agricultural Sector (implementation of the Regional Executive Decision No. 1338/2016).
DURATION: 15th May 2017 - 31st July 2017
IRF ROLE: Partner
Scope and objectives
The M.ER.LI.N. Project is concerned with developing strategies and solutions for low energy and low water consumption and the use of renewable sources, and has addressed initially, in its first phase, companies in the provinces of Imperia and Savona, an area with the greatest concentration of potential beneficiary companies.
Agricultural enterprises have gradually eliminated or drastically decreased energy use, especially in relation to protected crops, due to the high costs of traditional technologies (e.g. oil burners, air conditioning, sodium lamps, traditional circulation pumps, obsolete water systems, rarely oriented to reusing water).
This has led to a shift in production towards less energy-intensive crops, which, however, do not guarantee equal or greater profitability, and are actually potentially more exposed to competition from other countries.
At the same time, on the technology front, there has been a significant increase in available energy efficiency and self-production solutions with extremely favourable conditions for agricultural businesses.
However, these solutions are often proposed to agricultural business via door-to-door sales hampered by a certain level of distrust or incomprehension regarding the complexities of the solutions and of public incentivization tools (e.g. thermal feed-in tariffs, white certificates).
The project aims to be a facilitator in closing the information and knowledge gap between agricultural enterprises and suppliers of technological solutions and services in the context of existing energy saving and renewable energy self-production opportunities.
The first phase aimed to establish the partnership, objectives and strategies to be elaborated in the second-phase preparation of the operational project.
The intention was to focus on the development, presentation, illustration and dissemination of packages of technological, financial and organizational solutions to companies in the area, suited to various specific cultivation needs and local conditions. This approach included various activities involving the partners in the following activities:
Preparatory studies to analyse the crop and energy needs of the agricultural enterprises involved in the initial phase;
Feasibility studies envisaging the analysis, on the basis of company and IRF inputs, of energy alternatives that can be adopted, considering necessary investment budgets, any public contributions, and the impacts of the investments on the operating costs of the two businesses;
Activation of information strategies aimed at potential project stakeholders, with specific meetings, dedicated visits and dissemination activities through local media, such as the local press, news sites, trade associations, websites, social networks, etc.;
Territorial promotional activities presenting the project and its purposes through testimonials analysing specific cases and agricultural entrepreneurs, leading to the creation of a database of companies, needs and expectations, so as to be able to better orient the design of the various protocols to meet the actual needs of companies;
Project activities, leading to:
Preparation of the final phase of the project, taking into account experiences, data and feedback acquired during its preliminary phase;
Identification of entities, companies, institutions and associations useful for the Working Group, to which membership should be proposed;
Preparation of a communications system for the final project phase to extend the initiative to the other Ligurian provinces, and to neighbouring provinces in the Piedmont Region;
Preparation of a web-based data management system and operating procedures that are easy to access and consult.
Results and impacts
The initiative aims to identify the best technological solutions and economic and financial implementation strategy for the various crop types, in order for these to be translated into real business protocols, based on analyses of economics, marginal costs and expected return on investment times, and made available to agricultural companies, institutions and trade associations that, in their various capacities, guide the crop choices of agricultural companies in improving their competitiveness.
This initiative is also expected to bring other results, such as:
The agricultural rehabilitation of the most inland and remote parts of the regional territory: through access to low cost energy, large, cooler and more remote rural areas, and crops more typically cultivated along the coastal strip;
Redevelopment of obsolete structures: the positioning of thermal power plants and technological systems should privilege the re-use of abandoned or underused greenhouses and buildings, in order to guarantee rational use of the territory;
Creation of demand for certified biomass: the use of incentive tools provided through the National Action Plan (PAN) requires operators to use a woody biomass certified to UNI EN 14961 or the ISO 17225-1 Biomass Plus standard. This may be a decisive stimulus for forestry operators, with resources provided by the Regional Development Plan, to begin the development of a regional supply chain that can obtain certifications for the most modern and sophisticated biomass plants.
AGRESCO SRL, Savona, Italy
IRF - Regional Institute for Floriculture, Sanremo, Italy
University of Genoa - Department of Computer Science, Bioengineering, Robotics and Systems Engineering (DIBRIS)
University of Genoa - Department of Mechanical, Energy, Management and Transport Engineering (DIME)
Azienda Agricola Antonio Bruzzone, Albenga, Italy
Azienda Agricola P.B.Flor di Barbero M.T. e Paliotto F.
Margherita Beruto (IRF Coordinator and Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Federico Di Battista (Field Test Technician, email@example.com)
Elena Delfini (Technical-administrative Staff, firstname.lastname@example.org)