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PITAGORAS Site Brescia

Country & City

  • Italy
  • Brescia


Contact Information

The city of Brescia in northern Italy is part of the PITAGORAS project, which aims to develop highly replicable, cost-effective and high energy-efficient large-scale energy generation systems that will allow the sustainable urban planning of very-low-energy city districts. The project’s concept for waste heat recovery system is demonstrated in a real-scale pilot plant.

During the winter period, the pilot plant produces district heat (10 MWh), which is delivered via the local district heating network. During the summer season, the pilot plant uses the waste heat to produce around 1.8 MWel of electricity through an Organic Rankine Cycle. The set temperature of heat into the district heating network is 107 °C.

Compared to reference systems, this amounts to a reduction of 39 057 MWh/yr of primary energy demand and a reduction of 7220 tonnes of CO2/yr thanks to the low primary energy (0 kWh of primary energy for every kWh of final energy) and the CO2 factor (0 g CO2/kWh).

Regulatory & Administrative

Regulatory & Administrative
Encountered barriers

The Italian Regulatory Authority for Electricity Gas and Water (AEEG) established the payment of surcharge costs for the self-generation systems (Decision AEEG 12 December 2013, 578/2013/REEL). This obligation created a barrier to the development of Organic Rankine Cycle applications to the recovery of waste heat from industrial processes. Indeed, this rule reduces the value of the electricity produced by a heat recovery system from an industrial process with Organic Rankine Cycle technology, prolonging investment payback times up to 100 % (Technical University of Milan, Energy & Strategy Group, Energy Efficiency Report 2013).

In order to transpose the Directive 2006/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on energy end-use efficiency and energy services into its national system, the Italian authorities introduced the concept of Efficient User Systems. According to the Italian Decree No 115 of 2008, the Efficient User Systems are defined as renewable or high-efficiency cogenerative plants. As such, the Efficient User Systems benefit from the reduction on tariffs for electricity transmission, distribution and dispatch, as well as from the discount of surcharge costs. Today waste heat recovery for power generation systems is not included in the definition of Efficient User Systems despite their multiple benefits, together with the non-utilisation of fossil fuels and reduction of carbon emissions through the recovery of excess heat, which is otherwise dispersed into the environment.

Because of their proved benefits, waste heat recovery systems should be assimilated to high-efficiency cogeneration plants or renewable systems and included in the definition of Efficient User Systems.

The economic obstacle is a key issue: investment payback times for the implementation of technologies related to waste heat recovery are longer than the 3 to 4 years, which is the usual timeframe considered acceptable by industrial players. For this reason, creating ad hoc incentive mechanisms or including them in existing supporting schemes could help in overcoming this barrier.

Technical University of Milan, Energy & Strategy Group, Energy Efficiency Report 2013

Directive 2006/32/EC of the EP and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on energy end-use efficiency and energy services

Best Practices

Best Practices



Communication and promotion of the environmental impacts and benefits in order to promote awareness and acceptance of the demonstrated interventions.


The successful implementation process of the project was a result of the joint programming of the developers with the relevant local authorities and public utilities company. The municipality joined the promotion of the smart cities approach, while the utilities company was involved in evaluating the project payback time. 


The implemented solutions include:

Energy systems integration

  • District heating and cooling
  • Polygeneration
  • Waste heat recovery
  • Waste-to-energy

The investment cost for the intervention was a total of EUR 12 million, with EUR 2.5 million as funding from the European Union. The revenues are EUR 400 000 for the electricity fed into the grid and EUR 500 000 for the delivered heating energy, resulting in a return on investment of 12 years.

SRT data