Renewable Energy Sources and Waste-to-Energy

This research-line relates with the conversion of a variety of renewable sources (solar, wind, geothermal, ocean, biomass) into clean energy carriers (electricity, heat, cold, hydrogen). Most of the research activity is focused on conceiving innovative, high performance and cost-effective solutions to exploit renewable energy, including advanced plant configurations, power cycles, working and heat carriers fluids, storage systems, hybrid plants, etc. Plant performance simulation is carried out by means of in-house developed software tools and/or commercial simulation programs, in design, transient and off-design conditions. Results are compared with data from real-scale plants or custom developed plants located in our labs. The final assessment of plant performance encompasses both technical and economical aspects of the considered solutions.

Concentrating Solar Power

The possibility of storing at low cost solar thermal energy makes CSP one of the key renewable technologies. The activity is mainly focused on modelling of conventional and advanced CSP systems. In particular:

Techno-economic analysis of Large and small scale CSP plants (solar towers, parabolic trough, Dish, Fresnel system) for electric energy generation.

Modelling of specific CSP subcomponents (e.g., Thermal Energy Storage, Solar Receiver, Solar Collector, Power Block)

Modelling of advanced systems for solar fuels production (thermochemical cycles, high temperature electrolysis)

Solar Photovoltaic

The activity on PV, boosted by the installation of the SolarTech lab, allows to simulate, model and test different types of devices:

Conventional PV systems

Hybrid PVT systems for cogeneration

Advanced concentrating PV with reflective and refractive optics

Analysis and simulation of smart grids with PV

Bioenergy and Waste-to-Energy

Most of the activities on biomass and waste recovery are carried out at LEAP & MatER Study Center

Modeling of integrated systems for power generation and district heating supply

Efficiency evaluation of conventional and advanced Waste-to-Energy (WtE) facilities

Innovative thermo-chemical processes (ex. gasification and pyrolysis) and synthetic fuels production

Biogas upgrading technologies and biomethane value chain development

Thermal characterization of industrial combustion chambers

Performances and emissions experimental assessment of small scale biomass fired boilers

Energetic use of Microalgae

Geothermal energy

This abundant and versatile renewable resource, continuously available 24 hours a day, can be exploited for several uses. This subject has been investigated for many years and the GECOS group has a deep knowledge of the whole spectrum of technologies to generate electrical energy from geothermal sources, with particular expertise in ORC technology.  The research activity involves:

Modelling and techno-economic analysis of high enthalpy and low enthalpy geothermal plants

Modelling and optimisation of geothermal plants for power, heat and cold production

Management of smart thermal networks

Cooperation with the main European stakeholders in the frame of geothermal energy


Hydroelectric power generation provides 67% of the world renewable electricity and ensure high flexibility to the grid through storage and pumping-storage plants. Our research activity includes:

Optimisation of the preliminary design stage of the plant through the development of custom SAS tools for automatic turbine sizing

Design and optimisation of Archimedean screw turbines and innovative plant layouts for low-head applications

Energy-potential assessment and plant design for irrigation and drinking-water networks

Drive train modelling and performance assessment of existing plants

Wind power

Global installed capacity from wind power is strongly increasing with a ratio of 15% per year. Our research activity focuses on the following topics:

Performance assessment of existing wind turbine generators including drive-train modelling and production forecast

Analysis and simulation of load-balancing energy systems

Ocean energy, hybrid plants and other renewable technologies

Techno-economic analysis of plants exploiting ocean thermal gradient (OTEC plants) and salinity gradient

Modelling and techno-economic analysis of hybrid plants, integrating different renewable sources (solar, geothermal, biomass, OTEC and possibly others), with special emphasis on plants based on ORC technology

For further information on solar technologies: Prof. Giampaolo Manzolini (
For further information on bioenergy technologies: Prof. Matteo Romano (
For further information on waste-to-energy: Prof. Stefano Consonni (
For further information on hydro, wind, geothermal, and other RES: Prof. Paolo Silva (

Recent publications

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Bernardoni, C; Binotti, M; Giostri, A

Techno-economic analysis of closed OTEC cycles for power generation Journal Article

Renewable Energy, 132 , pp. 1018–1033, 2019, ISSN: 0960-1481.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Binotti, M; Invernizzi, C M; Iora, P; Manzolini, G

Dinitrogen tetroxide and carbon dioxide mixtures as working fluids in solar tower plants Journal Article

Solar Energy, 181 , pp. 203–213, 2019.

Links | BibTeX

Gabrielli, P; Gazzani, M; Novati, N; Sutter, L; Simonetti, R; Molinaroli, L; Manzolini, G; Mazzotti, M

Combined water desalination and electricity generation through a humidification-dehumidification process integrated with photovoltaic-thermal modules: Design, performance analysis and techno-economic assessment Journal Article

Energy Conversion and Management: X, 1 , 2019.

Links | BibTeX


Crespi, F; Toscani, A; Zani, P; Sánchez, D; Manzolini, G

Effect of passing clouds on the dynamic performance of a CSP tower receiver with molten salt heat storage Journal Article

Applied Energy, 229 , pp. 224–235, 2018.

Links | BibTeX

Polimeni, S; Binotti, M; Moretti, L; Manzolini, G

Comparison of sodium and KCl-MgCltextlessinftextgreater2textless/inftextgreater as heat transfer fluids in CSP solar tower with sCOtextlessinftextgreater2textless/inftextgreater power cycles Journal Article

Solar Energy, 162 , pp. 510–524, 2018.

Links | BibTeX

Di Marcoberardino, G; Vitali, D; Spinelli, F; Binotti, M; Manzolini, G

Green hydrogen production from raw biogas: A techno-economic investigation of conventional processes using pressure swing adsorption unit Journal Article

Processes, 6 (3), 2018.

Links | BibTeX

Toscani, A; Crespi, F; Sánchez, D; Binotti, M; Manzolini, G

Assessment of different control strategies to manage cloud-induced transients in central receiver systems using molten salts Inproceedings

AIP Conference Proceedings, 2018.

Links | BibTeX

Dolara, A; Leva, S; Manzolini, G; Niccolai, A; Votta, L

Impact of Cell Microcracks Size and Spatial Distribution on Output Power of PV Modules Inproceedings

Proceedings - 2018 IEEE International Conference on Environment and Electrical Engineering and 2018 IEEE Industrial and Commercial Power Systems Europe, EEEIC/I and CPS Europe 2018, 2018.

Links | BibTeX

Picotti, G; Borghesani, P; Cholette, M E; Manzolini, G

Soiling of solar collectors – Modelling approaches for airborne dust and its interactions with surfaces Journal Article

Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 81 , pp. 2343–2357, 2018.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Picotti, G; Borghesani, P; Manzolini, G; Cholette, M E; Wang, R

Development and experimental validation of a physical model for the soiling of mirrors for CSP industry applications Journal Article

Solar Energy, 173 , pp. 1287–1305, 2018.

Links | BibTeX

71 entries « 1 of 8 »