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Italian quarry achieves 45% saving in monthly energy costs

Granulati Basaltici installed 2MW of ground-mounted solar systems near their operational facilities in Sicily in a bid to counter escalating energy bills and to meet their stringent ESG targets as a heavy industry
Granulati Basaltici installed 2MW of ground-mounted solar systems near their operational facilities in Sicily in a bid to counter escalating energy bills and to meet their stringent ESG targets as a heavy industry

2MW solar park cuts Granulati Basaltici’s monthly energy bill from €50,000 to €27,000 

GRANULATI Basaltici Srl, a Gruppo Ferrara company, are one of Italy’s leading specialists in the extraction and production of basalt aggregates – serving as the primary ballast supplier to Central and Southern Italy for RFI (Rete Ferroviaria Italiana – that manages the infrastructure for the Italian National Railway).

The company’s quarrying operations demands substantial amounts of energy, which at peak hours often reaches up to 1.7MW – resulting in monthly energy bills of around €50,000.

In a bid to counter escalating energy bills and to meet its stringent ESG targets as a heavy industry, Granulati Basaltici installed 2MW of ground-mounted solar systems near their operational facilities in Sicily.

 

Powered by SolarEdge’s three phase Synergy inverters and power optimizers, the solar plant has cut monthly energy expenses by 45% from around €50,000 per month to €27,000 – equating to annual savings of approximately €275,000 with an estimated ROI of just five years.

Crucially, since shifting to self-consumption with solar, Granulati Basaltici have been able to shield themselves from recent increases in grid electricity prices of between 125–140% – equivalent to €112,500 per month.

The solar plant has also allowed Granulati Basaltici to significantly improve the sustainability of their operations, reducing CO2 emissions by more than three million kilograms to date. This was a key goal for the company's management, particularly with ESG deadlines established by the European Union ramping up.

In addition, the move to solar has also helped Granulati Basaltici appeal to partners increasingly focused on the sustainability of the entire supply chain, in what has traditionally been an inherently heavy polluting market.

Francesco Ferrara, legal representative for Granulati Basaltici, commented: ‘Even though we expect the closure of our basalt quarry by 2035 due to resource depletion, there is already a plan that involves the creation of new solar installations on the site.

‘Having seen the transformative impact solar energy has had on our business in tackling escalating electricity prices, it will not only be more cost effective for us in the shorter term, but once the quarry is exhausted, it will ensure the land will have a second life as an extensive and highly productive solar farm.’

The 2MW solar farm – comprising four 500kW photovoltaic (PV) systems – was installed by CIESSE (C.S. Group), a leading solar specialist in Sicily. Using an innovative design layout to further maximize Granulati Basaltici’s use of solar power, CIESSE designed the PV systems based on the actual fluctuation of the company's daily energy consumption – where peak energy consumption is in the morning, followed by a gradual decrease over lunch and in the late afternoon.

The solar plant at Granulati Basaltici is powered by SolarEdge’s three-phase Synergy inverters and power optimizers and has enabled it to cut monthly energy expenses by 45%
The solar plant at Granulati Basaltici is powered by SolarEdge’s three-phase Synergy inverters and power optimizers and has enabled it to cut monthly energy expenses by 45%

Rather than being positioned in a south-facing singular orientation, in each solar array the panels are positioned at different angles to capture maximum sunlight throughout the day based on the sun’s position – thereby increasing the amount of solar power available during specific daylight hours.

Alessio Catalano, chief executive officer of CIESSE, explained: ‘This flexibility when designing a PV system is not possible with regular string inverter technology, since all solar panels in the string must be positioned with the same angle and tilt.

‘SolarEdge’s power optimizers enable each panel to work individually, giving us the versatility in planning the installation to take full advantage of the sun at different hours of the day, and produce more energy from the system. As reducing Granulati Basaltici’s significant energy bill through self-consumption was a primary goal, having these capabilities was critical to the company.’

Power optimizers are small innovative devices that sit behind individual solar panels, allowing them to achieve peak energy generation even in the presence of shade. Unlike traditional string inverter technologies, should power efficiency be down on a specific panel, this one panel issue is isolated and does not affect the rest of the solar array – ensuring Granulati Basaltici achieve maximum power production, which was key to their investment.

Having a power optimizer on individual panels also allows real-time monitoring at a panel level, allowing Granulati Basaltici to closely track system performance, while enabling remote troubleshooting by the installer to help ensure uninterrupted operation.

Christian Carraro, general manager for South Europe with SolarEdge, concluded: ‘The success story of Granulati Basaltici exemplifies the growing transformation in heavy industries towards solar energy. With heavy industry comes high energy usage, and with electricity prices volatile, moving to self-consumption with solar gives companies the power to become more grid independent and reduce their energy bills.

‘When you combine this with global pressures to increase ESG targets, this is why SolarEdge technology is on the rooftops of more than 50% of Fortune 100 companies.’

 

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