This paper investigates the feasibility of a solar cogeneration system, as a solution to reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in a tissue mill, located in the industrial district of Lucca (North Italy). Although the paper sector has a high theoretical potential for the use of solar energy, the implementation of a solar thermal plant may not be economically sustainable, due to the expensive investment of such a system and to the uncertainty of future benefits. These issues are even more relevant in a moderate climate, where the high variability of the direct normal irradiance can prevent the technical feasibility of the plant. To demonstrate the possible use of solar energy in paper mills, a concentrating solar power plant with thermal storage, based on parabolic trough technology, has been chosen as a feasible solution for combined heat and power generation and its technical and economical performances have been evaluated through an extensive simulation analysis. The results obtained prove the feasibility of the proposed system and assure a good economic profitability. Results also show how the possibility of benefiting from economic incentives for renewable electric power generation is fundamental to reduce the payback period and to assure the profitability of the investment.

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