Renewable Energy In Italy: What You Should Know

April 19, 2021
renewable energy in Italy|Wind turbine in Italy|solar energy|solar panels by Eni

Some countries stand out in the renewable energy conversation in Europe, and Italy is one of the top players. For 2018 and 2020, Italy beat its renewable energy targets. The total energy produced by hydroelectric, solar, wind, bioenergy and geothermal power in Italy for 2018 reached 17.8% of final gross consumption, surpassing the 17% target set for 2020.

There was a 7.7% of consumption in the transport sector for individual sectors, 33.9% in electricity production and 19.2% in heat consumption from renewable energy sources within Italy in 2018. With that amount of electricity consumption, Italy greatly exceeded the National Action Plan's target on renewable energy sources, also known as the PAN, for the years 2018 (24.6%) and 2020 (26.4%).

Italy is ranked among the top ten in Europe as part of the list of countries leading electricity production from renewable energy sources. The national impact on the European Union's total is about 10.7%. The ambitious target for 2030 set by Italy's National Energy and Climate Plan accounts for 30% consumption of renewable energy sources. So this makes it necessary for Italy to promote and install its renewable energy plans in the future.

Italy’s Renewable Energy Journey, How Far They’ve Come.

The fastest-growing source of renewable energy in Italy is photovoltaic solar energy (PV).

  • As of 2021, 40.91% of the country's electricity comes from renewables, compared to 27.68% in 2011.
  • In 2020, Italy emitted a cumulative average of 0.19kg of CO2 per kWh of energy. This figure marked growth in decarbonisation from 2010, when it emitted an average of 0.22kg of CO2 per kWh of energy.
  • Between 2011 and 2021, the share of electricity production from fossil fuels decreased significantly from 72.32% to 59.09%.
  • In 2011, electricity produced from hydropower was 15.29%; from solar was 3.60%; from wind was 3.29%; from other renewables such as biomass and incinerated waste was 5.50%. A decade later, much has changed in these shares. In 2021, electricity produced from hydropower was 15.77%; from solar was 8.64%; from wind was 7.40%; from other renewables was 9.10%.
  • Between 2010 and 2020, energy consumption from renewables soared from 9.94% to 17.72%.
solar energy

Policies Promoting The Growth Of Renewable Energy In Italy

After beating its own 17% set target for renewables shares six years ahead of schedule, Italy has created policies and guidelines to streamline the renewable energy sector for maximum profit. It is working under the EU Energy Roadmap 2050 to decrease greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent from 1990 levels using its National Energy Strategy 10-year road map.

The National Energy Strategy seeks to increase competitiveness, sustainability and security in the Italian national energy sector through schemes and incentives specifically tailored to the Italian market. The schemes or policies responsible for renewable energy – electricity in Italy are controlled by Gestore dei Servizi Energetic (GSE – the Manager of Electricity Services). 

Some of the policies are:

  • Electricity generated from renewable energy sources is promoted through VAT- and real estate tax deductions.
  • Prosumers can sell electricity generated from renewable energy sources fed into the grid at the free market or to the GSE at a guaranteed minimum price colloquially termed "ritiro dedicato."
  • Net-metering, also known as "scambio sul posto", provides a convenient compensation to prosumers for the electricity fed into the grid.
  • Priority access must be given to renewable energy plants by grid operators.
  • Priority dispatch of electricity from renewable sources is also an obligation.
  • Grid operators can expand the grid if necessary and requested by plant operators.

As for renewable energy in the heating sector, there are a few policies available as well:

  • District heating and cooling networks are managed at local levels.
  • The development of the installations needed for renewable energy sources in heating (RES-H) is supported by price-based mechanisms.
  • A tax regulation mechanism is in place to promote using renewable energy sources for heating.

Other general policies that concern renewable energy sources in Italy include:

  • Certificates of installed energy plants are obligatory.
  • All new or refurbished buildings must integrate RES, with an extra 10% of the obligation level for public buildings.

Building upon the above, the Italian government has recently added robust incentives to help strengthen the nation's renewable energy market:

  • Deployment of 3.37GW of new solar capacity in 2022. 
  • Allocation of €1.7 billion to support renewable energy production companies.
  • Provision of electricity subsidies to owners of PV systems with a capacity of over 20kW.
  • Issuance of €267 million to help small and medium-sized enterprises afford solar PV installations.
  • Between the outbreak of Covid-19 and now, the Italian government has committed about €48.20 billion to support the growth of renewable energy compared to €4.28 billion in support of fossil fuel energy.
  • Italy's transport sector is responsible for the second most greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions behind electricity and heating. The government is actively investing in electric vehicles (EVs) to curb this. In March, the government announced that they would provide a subsidy of €6,000 to purchase an EV.

Ongoing Renewable Energy Projects In Italy.

Italy's first offshore wind farm is currently under construction. The plant comprises ten wind turbines with a total capacity of 30MW. Together these turbines are expected to produce 58GWh of energy that is capable of supplying the energy needs of 60,000 people. What's more? The plant is designed to prevent the emission of 730Mt of CO2 over 25 years.

Moreover, Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi or ENI for short, is building a 4.5 MW photovoltaic plant in Trecate to power its production site. In addition, ENI New Energy, a subsidiary of ENI, acquired three wind projects with a total capacity of 35 MW in the Puglia region of Italy. These wind plants are expected to produce approximately 81 GWh annually, avoiding around 33,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.


Furthermore, six onshore wind farms with a combined capacity of 418MW are currently being built in Apulia, Sardinia, and Basilicata regions. These projects, when launched, are predicted to help the country reach its 2030 goal of producing 55% of its electricity from renewables.

solar panels by Eni

Experts’ Projections

When it comes to electricity generation, the National Plan for Energy and Climate (PNIEC) expects power generated by renewables to increase by 65% by 2030 compared to its current total.

Renewables are also scheduled to cover more than 55% of national electricity consumption, estimated at 337 TWh in 2030.

The plan is to concentrate on two renewables, wind energy and photovoltaic energy. Both renewables reach more than twice the amount of installed power in 2030 than what is currently attainable. This means the increase in total installed power from renewables would go up to 75%.

Following experts' careful analyses of the country's RE growth over the years, the market is expected to achieve a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.1% between this year and 2027. 

Conclusion

Italy is not pausing in its race to become the only contender for renewable energy innovations in Europe. On the contrary, it has beaten its set targets twice in a row and continues to set higher standards for its sustainability. 

Hive Power is optimistic about the tremendous progress that can be made in Italy's renewable energy journey by including AI-powered smart grid technologies to promote more innovative solutions.

While the government's investment in EVs is in action, they can speed up the realisation of a decentralised grid system with an intentional turn towards EV smart charging. Through this, electric grids are better sustained. And with durable, effective grids, decarbonisation is made easy.

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