The real numbers of Acea's gigantic deal on the Rome incinerator: the Greens' complaint


The real numbers of Acea's gigantic deal on the Rome incinerator: the Greens' complaint

“The CEO of Acea rightly said that the Santa Palomba incinerator will not cost 7.5 billion euros. But no one has ever argued this. Those 7.5 billion instead represent the overall value of the revenues over the duration of the public notice, i.e. a concession for 33 years and 5 months”, Ferdinando Bonessio, Capitoline councilor of the Green Alliance and Left.

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The Santa Palomba waste-to-energy plant according to the Acea project

The CEO of Acea , Fabrizio Palermo , declared that the investment for the new waste-to-energy plant in Rome is around one billion euros . “A 7.5 billion investment for the Rome waste-to-energy plant? It seems to me to be a very overestimated figure, we are talking about drastically different figures. The order of magnitude is different, significantly lower”, Palermo's words. But things are not exactly like this: the 7.5 billion euros, in fact, are linked to the overall turnover linked to the new plant in Rome.

“I don't want to think that the CEO didn't understand and therefore I believe, perhaps, that the question was asked in an incompletely correct way. And so Palermo answered something that was certainly correct, but incomplete and misleading. In the meantime , let's start by saying that it is an incinerator . Because there is no industrial plant called 'waste-to-energy plant'. It is a neologism invented to sugarcoat this bitter pill”, explained Ferdinando Bonessio , Capitoline councilor of the Green-Left Alliance to the microphones of .

So how are things Bonessio? What are those 7.5 billion euros?

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The Acea CEO rightly said that the Santa Palomba industrial waste incineration plant will not cost 7.5 billion euros. But no one has ever argued this. Those 7.5 billion instead represent the overall value of the revenues over the duration of the public notice, i.e. a concession for 33 years and 5 months.

How do you get to that 7.5 billion?

The Municipality of Rome has the obligation to deliver 600 thousand tons of undifferentiated waste per year to that plant for the next 33 years. To reach those 7.5 billion, the rate of 185 euros for each ton of waste delivered must be multiplied by 33 years. Furthermore, that figure includes, in addition to waste, the sale of electricity and thermal energy produced by the incinerator.

In short, a gigantic turnover for Acea…

Among other things, armored, with a practically non-existent business risk. Let's summarize: the waste commissioner for the Jubilee Roberto Gualtieri has published an expression of interest, communicating that Rome wants to equip a plant with some particular characteristics. The team made up of Acea, Hitachi and Suez made a proposal, deemed to be of public interest. A proposal from a private individual on public land, because the Santa Palomba land is owned by Ama. The final project became the basis for the public tender procedure (tender call), which is foreseen by the procurement code. In theory, third parties could participate in the public notice and therefore snatch this project from Acea, but it is highly unlikely.


The proposer, i.e. the one who received recognition of public interest first, has a right of pre-emption. If Acea were to lose, the law provides that Acea can, by exercising its right of first refusal, match the offer deemed best, or that Acea be reimbursed for all design costs. The public notice is highly armored and the business risk is truly minimal, practically non-existent. As I said before, the client, i.e. the Municipality, has undertaken to deliver waste to the incinerator for 30 years and five months: this is the time calculated to return on the investment. Furthermore, there is a clause which states that Rome must deliver 600 thousand tons of waste per year and if Rome delivers less, it would have to pay.

So if Rome Capital was unable to dispose of those 600 thousand tons of waste per year, what would happen?

Let's say that Rome grows in separate waste collection… This wouldn't change anything, it would still have to send those 600 thousand tons. So, paradoxically, it could be forced to buy waste from other regions to reach that quantity. From the point of view of environmental sustainability and from the point of view of health protection it would be a defeat, at least in our opinion of the Green and Left Alliance. Not only that, there is also the aspect of caloric value: Rome has undertaken to dispose of waste with a certain caloric value. In practice, if waste was brought in without a certain percentage of plastic, paper and wood, the plant would obtain a lower calorific value by burning it. They would produce less energy, less thermal heat. Therefore, if Rome brought waste with less calorific value, it would have to solve this problem by contributing economically. Lastly, it must be considered that such a long-term 'contract' would condition future choices, making it practically impossible to follow the new technologies that continually appear in the waste treatment sector: the next two generations of Roman citizens would have a traced road not editable.

What about emissions? Gualtieri promised that there will be a carbon dioxide capture plant…

It seems almost certain that the European Union will introduce a tax on those who produce and emit CO2 into the atmosphere. Therefore, there will certainly be an increase in taxes and contributions that Roma Capitale will bear. Furthermore, according to our calculations, this mechanism will allow us to capture less than 10 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted. Furthermore, the construction of the ancillary systems, as they are defined, for the collection of Co2 and the recovery of ash will be the responsibility of the Municipality of Rome, approximately 40 million disbursed by the Capitol.

The waste-to-energy plant, says Gualtieri, will bring benefits to the Romans as regards the Tari. Is that so?

Where would Roma Capitale's obligation to maintain the economic and financial balance of this facility fall? It would inevitably fall on the Tari that the Romans pay.


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