Solar companies in Italy have been invited to take part in a 200 billion lire (US$95 million) project to build a solar plant to generate electricity.ROME, Italy, IT, 2001-08-27 [SolarAccess.com] Solar companies in Italy have been invited to take part in a 200 billion lire (US$95 million) project to build a solar plant to generate electricity. The Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy & the Environment (ENEA) is looking for technological partners to assist in designing and building a demonstration solar plant of 4 MWe capacity. This facility would provide operational experience that could lead to the construction of an industrial plant comprised of several 40 MW modules. The plant will use parabolic troughs, which the agency says is superior to other concentration technologies of parabolic dishes and solar towers. “In comparison with other plants actually working or near to operation, the prototype proposed by ENEA presents some characteristics that put it at the top of the parabolic trough technology,” says the bidding document. The plant will use “innovative solutions” to reduce production, installation and maintenance costs, as well as improve thermal efficiency. The working fluid to be used in the circuit to transport the solar heat will be a salt mix that is common to fertilizers, sodium and potassium nitrates, and stable to temperatures of 600°C. Similar solar thermal plants use flammable and expensive mineral oils at working temperatures of 290 to 390°C. ENEA’s research program includes the development of solar thermal plants for the production of electricity and the definition of a research program on the use of hydrogen in high efficiency fuel cells. Formal indications of interest in participating in the demo project are due by September 15.