CRA turns a former petroleum refinery plant in Trieste, Italy, into a waterfront battery park – the project testing innovative green energy solutions

Designed by Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA)

From the design firm:

This project connects former oil tanks to the Adriatic Sea to convert them into clean water batteries.

International design and innovation office CRA has unveiled a master plan for a former oil refinery in the city of Trieste, Italy, transforming it into a renewable energy park. 

Developed for the Port of Trieste, the design features tanks converted into ‘water batteries’ as part of a 365,000m² reclaimed seafront park. 

The project opens up an inaccessible area of the city’s vast industrial port infrastructure, facing the Adriatic Sea at its northernmost point.

Suggesting new ways to reuse former industrial facilities, the design employs renewable energy sources in an integrated way. 

At the core of the project are six former oil reservoirs – each of them at a height of 15m, totalling 110,000m² of capacity – that will be turned into water batteries.

When there is the need to store power, seawater is pumped up into the tanks and turned into potential energy. 

Conversely, when power is needed, the stored seawater is used to produce hydroelectric energy, pouring water back into the sea. 

The system functions as a small “pumped hydroelectric” plant. 

The solution is fully renewable as the energy needed to pump up seawater is provided by agrivoltaics – elevated photovoltaic panels scattered across a publicly accessible urban park.

“One of today’s major challenges is the transformation of the 20th-century industrial and energy legacy infrastructure we have in our cities,” says Carlo Ratti, founding partner of CRA and curator of the upcoming Biennale Architettura 2025. 

“Our project in Trieste manifests this ambition in a striking way – the same pipes that were polluting the environment can now power the green revolution.” 

The project was also inspired by the Port of Trieste’s ambition to reimagine the role of urban harbours as sites of shared innovation. 

“The future energy infrastructure should not be hidden from public view, as it happened in the past – rather, it should become part of urban experimentation, allowing a conversation to happen on our future development paths,” says Ratti.

The master plan reconnects the city of Trieste with the neighbouring municipality of Muggia. 

In addition to the energy facilities, it features green areas, urban farms, and an Innovation Park with a biotech research facility. 

The project stands as the most recent example of CRA’s commitment to decarbonising our cities and thinking about the future of energy.

Credit list

Water parkWater park
Water park design, Trieste, Italy
Port of Trieste

Designed by: Carlo Ratti Associati (CRA)

Story by: Trendsideas

21 Apr, 2024

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