Eni, BF sign agreement to evaluate energy-crop development on compromised land in Italy
Eni and BF have signed a collaboration agreement to evaluate the development of crops for energy use in Italy, recovering degraded, abandoned or polluted land, without competing with the food chain.
The first phase of the agreement will be to evaluate the sustainability and competitiveness of an agro-industrial chain to be jointly developed targeting recovery of marginal areas identified in the country through the development of sustainable agronomic practices.
Early next year a pilot phase will be launched by cultivating seeds such as safflower and brassica from which to extract the vegetable oil to be sent to Eni’s biorefineries, for subsequent transformation into biobased diesel fuel.
“Today we are strengthening our collaboration with BF on a great potential project for the country as it aims to regenerate marginal areas, such as contaminated or degraded ones, and at the same time promotes rural development and integration with the energy industry, which supports decarbonization of transport,” said Claudio Descalzi, CEO of Eni.
The agricultural production will work toward approval under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification scheme to guarantee the sustainability and traceability requirements of the products, in accordance with relevant European legislation.
According to Eni, the cultivation of the seeds can take place in farms directly owned by BF, as well as in consortia, cooperatives and professional organizations located on territories able to collaborate with BF and Eni.
In addition, farmers will be able to count on support of the partners to introduce innovative practices, from precision agriculture to carbon farming to reduce emissions and waste in the work phases.
The goal, according to Eni, is to create a new business model that, on one hand guarantees access to land for the farmers by creating economic opportunities and, on the other, introduces cutting-edge techniques and processes to reduce carbon emissions in the agriculture and transportation sectors.
Eni stated that this new agreement consolidates the collaboration between Eni and BF, partners in the Agri-Energy joint venture set up in January 2021 to develop improved seeds for biorefining.
“Agri-Energy research projects, such as the one in the ‘open-air laboratories’ of Arborea, in Sardinia, started in early 2022 to experiment with sustainable crops for energy production over an area of 15 hectares,” the company added.
The joint venture also promotes staff-training initiatives and support for international agronomic projects.
“The alliance between Eni and BF is consolidated with Progetto Italia, which demonstrates the essential role of agriculture in the diversification of energy sources,” said Federico Vecchioni, CEO of BF. “In addition to the research and development activities of the joint venture in our company in Sardinia, we are starting today to a new initiative that involves the study and subsequent production of the first 2,000 national hectares of land used for the cultivation of oilseeds. The project will enhance abandoned areas of the country, recovering and inserting them in a virtuous circuit, which, at the same time, will give Italian agricultural entrepreneurs new diversification opportunities for their activities.”
Ettore Prandini, president of the agricultural trade association Coldiretti, added, "Coldiretti strongly supports this initiative, which will help us bring abandoned land back to production in a circular-economy project. Agriculture wants to play a central role in the ecological-transition path and guarantee new energy sources for all citizens, once again reiterating the social value of our work. With Eni, BF and Consorzi Agrari d’Italia we will also work to disseminate digital technologies and precision agriculture that will help the project to be even more sustainable.”