RESEARCHERS have studied the region around the Valle del Diavolo, or Devil’s Valley, in Tuscany, Italy, since the end of the 18th century, fascinated by the fissures spewing steam and volcanic gases that turn it into an area reminiscent of Dante’s Inferno. The first geothermal power plant in the world was completed in nearby Larderello in 1913, and locals today consider their underground resource to be a “gift of nature”, says photographer Luigi Avantaggiato, who took these photos as part of his project The Cloud Factory.
Geothermal energy is the natural heat produced within the planet. It can escape as steam or fluid through cracks in Earth’s surface, to heat hot springs, for example – or to be exploited as a source of energy.
“All the [inhabitants] I have met have given me back incredible positive feelings, as if that form of energy were a divine, almost sacred gift,” says Avantaggiato. He believes the practices in these “small, autonomous energy communities” are “very important resources for guaranteeing a sustainable and environmentally friendly future”.
The images, taken around Monterotondo Marittimo, show (above): the contrast between vegetation and white, sulphurous rocks at the Biancane nature park; the Valle del Diavolo, with the Monterotondo 1 geothermal power plant and its extraction and injection well; geochemist Rosario Avino analysing the composition of volcanic gas at Biancane; and the inside of the Monterotondo 1 power plant’s cooling tower.
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