Energy trails and Nature in Val Brembana
Enel’s mission is nature and the land. They aim to maximize the environmental, touristic, and recreational capacities of the areas around their electricity production, transmission, and distribution facilities. In this way Enel offers the general public a range of environments across the whole of Italy that, in terms of conservation status and the presence of flora and fauna, consitutes and extraordinary natural treasure.
The mission is articulated in projects aimed at raising awareness about the environment, studying the land, and the development of opportunities for recreation and sport. The intention of Nature and the Land is to develop projects in cooperation with institutions, regional administrations, local organizations, tourism agencies, and environmental associtions, as well as sports federations ad associations.
Energy and Health trails
Enel is present all over the territory, whether producing or as a provider of infrastructure and services.
Its network is an important instrument for communication that aids in consolidating the company’s roots in the territory and its relationship with local governments and communities.
The Nature and the Land program has identified a series of projects for the following areas: environment, sports and tourism, culture programs.
With the “Energy and Nature” trails in the upper part of Val Brembana, Enel, working in agreement with the towns of Carona and Branzi, has placed special emphasis on five circuits considered to be particulary beautiful that depart from the valley floor and connect the nine lakes found in the Parco delle Orobie. These are hiking trails that give visitors an opportunity to discover explore the characterisitics and the function of the hydroelectric plants located in these areas of natural beauty.
Signs are found along the trails illustrating, in addition to trail information, the unique features and technical data concerning the hydroelectric plants.
Among the many aspects of this beautiful region, the variety of plant life is particularly appealing. The Norway spruce of Cambrembo, the larches of Foppolo and Carona, the beeches in the boradleaf forests are all testimony to the richness of the forests of Bergamo’s valleys. Here and there you find beautiful wild orchids, including the very common spotted orchid and the lesser butterfly orchid, common near Foppolo. The mountain lilies also merit special attention: the martagon near the Calvi and Laghi Gemelli huts and the now rare white-petaled mountain lily near San Simone. Moreover, among the wild plants of the upper Val Brembana are countless species with aromatic and medicinal properties, sometimes of great pharmacological interest: alpine yarrow, arnica, angelica, chamomile, gentians, juniper, mint, dandelion, and many more.
Among the hoofed animals, one of the most common species in the mountains near Bergamo is the chamois. Roe deer too, though mot often seen as they stick to the thick underbrush, has certainly become more common in recent years. In the less trodden valleys of the Orobian Alps, marmot populations have made a remarkable comeback. Birds that can be seen include crows, choughs, several species of birds of prey, such as hawks, buzzards, and kites. The golden eagle, seen more and more these days, has lately taken to nesting in our mountains.
The Hydroelectric Plant in Carona
The Carona power plant, in operation since 1924, comprises two austere buildings with classicizing architectural elements. A the end of the 1980s the three original turbine/alternator groups, still visible, were substituted by a single group with a 48,000 kilowatt capacity.
The hydraulic sytem that powers the Carona plant includes nine lakes: Diavolo, Fregabolgia, Val di Frati, Sardegnana, Colombo, Gemelli, Marcio, Pian Casere, and Pian dei Becco. All together they are able to store about 22 milllion cubic meters of water.
Lake Sardegnana, with a useable capacity of 2.3 million cubic meters, is the reservoir that directly provides water to the Carona plant, which is fueled by a 1,500-meter pressurized pipeline able to move up to nine cubic meters of water per second over a drop of 600 meters.
The annual productive capacity of the plant is equal 83 million kilowatt hours, enough to provide power for about 35,000 families.
The Carona Power Plant
The hydraulic system in the upper Val Brembana covers eight lakes whose waters flow together in a ninth reservoir, called Lake Sardegnana, which, though a 1,500-meter-long pressurized pipeline, fuels the Carona plant. This pipeline can move nine cubic meters of water per second.
The system is able to accumulate 22 million cubic meters of water and enables the Carona power plant to produce 83 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to cover the needs of about 35,000 families.
At the end of the cycle the water used to make power is returned to the environment without having undergone any transformation. It retains all of its original properties.
The large reservoirs of the the upper Val Brembana have the effect of regulating and making uniform the water level of the River Brembo and its tributaries, which are by nature very variable, fluctuating between lows in the dry seasons and highs in the wet seasons. This regulating function is of vital importance in the event of extreme weather phenomena that might put buildings and towns along the rivers at risk.
Lago di Sardegnana
The dam at Lake Sardegnana, completed in 1930, is thirty-six meters high and is located at an elevation of 1,738 meters above sea level. The construction of the barricade increased the volume of the pre-existing lake to 2,300,000 cubic meters and the surface area to 115,000 square meters.
Two canals converge in this lake, below two natural waterfalls, bringing together the waters of six higher reservoirs. The western canal channels the waters of lakes Marcio, Pian del Becco, and Pian Casere, while the eastern canal collects the issue of lakes Diavolo, Fregabolgia, and Val di Frati.
The waters of two oter artificial lakes, Laghi Gemelli and Colombo, also converge in Lake Sardegnana after making power in the power plant of the same name on the left shore of the reservoir.
The Lake Colombo Dam, built between 1924 and 1928, raised the level of the pre-existing natural lake to 2,057 meters above sea level, creating a reservoir with a volume of 2,880,000 cubic meters. The waters of Lake Colombo, with those of the Laghi Gemelli, after powering the small Sardegnana plant, flow into the lake of the same name.
Lago del Diavolo
The Lake Diavolo Dam, built between 1929 and 1932, is twenty-five meters high. It raised the level of the pre-existing natural lake to 2,142.5 meters above sea level, thereby creating a reservoir with a volume of 2,560,000 cubic meters.
The lake’s waters, with those of lakes Fregabolgia and Val di Frati, flow together through an eastern tunnel in the basin of Lake Sardegnana.
The Laghi Gemelli Dam, built between 1925 and 1932, is 198 meters long and has a volume of 7,000,000 cubic meters, the largest basin of the hydraulic system in the upper Val Brembana.
The lake’s waters, with those of Lake Colombo, power the Sardegnana plant before flowing into the reservoir of the same name.
The quiet and crystalline waters of the lakes guard the legend of two young lovers, Santo, a shepherd from Val Taleggio, and Inca, a girl from Branzi. Their love was so strongly disapproved of by their families that one night, just before a terrible storm broke out, the decide to flee towards Val Seriana across the mountains that separate it from Val Brembana. Next morning, their parents climbed to the bowl of Branzi and found the lifeless bodies of the two lovers at the bottoms of the two lakes, then still separate. The waters are said to guard the forever.
The Lake Fregabolgia Dam, built at the beginning of the 1950s, is over 190 meters long and 51 meters high. Its construction resulted in the creation of a reservoir with a capacity of 4,600,000 cubic meters.
The lake, at an elevation of 1,957 meters above sea level, is the second largest resrvoir in the upper Val Brembana, after the Laghi Gemelli reservoir.
The lake’s waters, with those of lakes Diavolo and Val di Frati, pour through an eastern tunnel into Lake Sardegnana.
The Lake Marcio Dam, built between 1922 and 1925, is about 17 meters high. It reservoir, which was originally a peat bog, is situated at 1,842 meters above sea level and has a capactiy of 850,000 cubic meters.
The waters enter the Sardegnana reservoir through an western tunnel.
At an elevation of 1,873 meters above sea level the Lake Pian del Becco Dam, the smallest of the nine dams in the upper Val Brembana hydraulic system, was built at the same tome as the Marcio Dam (1922-25). The lake that was created as a result of the construction of the 14.5-meter-high dam has a volume of 225,000 cubic meters.
The waters pass through the western tunnel and enter the Sardegnana reservoir.
Lago Val dei Frati
The Val di Frati Dam is 18.5 meters high and has a capacity of 250,000 cubic meters.
The waters collected in its reservoir are transported, with those of lakes Fragabolgia and Diavolo, though the eastern tunnel to Lake Serdegnana.
Lago Pian Casere
The Lake Pian Casere Dama built between 1941 and 1946, is forty meters high. The reservoir, set in a hollow of the valley of the Borleggia River, has a maximum level of 1,816 meters above sea level, a volume of 2,470,000 cubic meters, and a surface area of 120.000 square meters.
The waters of Pian Casere, with those of Marci and Pian del Becco, enter Lake Sardegnan through the western tunnel.
The dam bears the name of the pasture that has since been drowned by its waters. It was home to several dairy farms whose farmers – known locally as Bergamì – produced butter and cheeses. Today you still pass dairy farms along the trails where these traditions are still carried on.