An Italian hospital uses trigeneration to reduce its energy consumption

Posted on 20 December 2018.

In December 2017 Parma’s university hospital opened a trigeneration plant - managed by Veolia - to improve its energy efficiency. Circular solutions hand in hand with reducing CO2 emissions.

The trigeneration plant produces almost the entire hospital’s electricity requirement.

Since the 2015 Paris Agreement, 195 countries have pledged to make the fight against climate change a priority. This ambition can only be achieved if huge efforts are made by both large emitters (factories, companies, local authorities, etc.) and private citizens to reduce CO2 emissions. One of the key issues is improving the energy performance of buildings, top energy consumers. In Italy, Parma’s university hospital has just taken a step in the right direction.
In 2012, the engineers working for SIRAM – a Veolia subsidiary - came up with the idea of installing a trigeneration plant right in the building. So what’s trigeneration? Everything starts with the hospital’s power station. This produces electricity from natural gas. In operation, it emits heat – known as waste heat. And that energy is usually lost. By installing a trigeneration plant it is possible to recover the heat that would otherwise be lost and use it to heat the building and produce chilled water for the air conditioning system.
In short, from a single primary energy source - natural gas - a trigeneration plant can produce electricity, heat and cold! Opened in 2017, the one in Parma’s hospital is already delivering promising results.


Requirements the size of a huge building

430,000 m2 and about 850,000 patients a year. A plant that would be capable of meeting this huge building’s needs had to be designed. And it was a challenge successfully met! The trigeneration plant is able to produce more than 40,641 MWh of electricity - covering almost the entire hospital's needs (81,2%). It also generates 51,262 MWh of thermal energy (i.e. 53,5% of its heating requirements) and 21,407 MWh of its cooling requirements (13,8%).
According to Marco Bongiorni, director of north-central business unit SIRAM in Italy, the installation promises a 18% reduction in the hospital’s annual CO2 emissions. As a point of comparison, it’s as if we had turned off the boilers in more than 1,000 homes! For the hospital, it’s an innovative solution that not only reduces its environmental impact but also means it saves money on its energy bill!

And what about France?

The principle of trigeneration is gradually gaining ground among businesses and cities. In 2015 Montpellier opened the very first trigeneration power plant in France.