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Wind Directions Country Focus: A closer look at Italy

30.10.2012

In 2012, Wind Directions will take a look at a selection of wind energy markets across Europe and beyond.


By Megan Swieca

Italy is in fourth position in Europe’s wind energy league, but recently its focus on wind energy has slipped.

When Italy cut the value of its green certifycates by 22% in March 2011 it was a red flag for the country’s green growth development. The country’s binding renewable energy target for 2020 is 17%, but it will just come short of achieving it. Nevertheless, this percentage is a great increase from 2005 when it was a mere 5.2%.

Currently, Italy is the fourth largest wind energy market in Europe, but this ranking might be at risk. At the end of 2011, Italy’s wind energy capacity was about 6,747MW. This is almost one thousand MW greater than the year
before, yet, the percentage of growth remained about the same.

Italy is now in the process of reviewing its renewable energy support scheme. The government is opting to get rid of green certificates and put in place a combination feed-in tariff and auction system. In the last 10 years, 10 different national rules and three regulations have changed the incentive system of green certificates, including the 22% cut in 2011 mentioned earlier.

The continual changes have created uncertainty in the market, holding back investments in Italian wind energy. The new support scheme was initially due to be defined by September 2011, but it wasn’t finalised until July 2012. This situation is indicative of the Italian government whose priorities are reducing expenditure and not developing a market which would create jobs and economic growth.

In addition to the legislative changes, the grid in Italy needs upgrading. There has been significant growth recently in renewables which is a positive sign however, some growth has been stunted due to congestion on the grid. Italian authorities are looking at upgrades and the construction of new lines to resolve these issues.

On a more positive note, the congestion in the south of Italy spurred action by Italy’s largest utility company Enel.

In 2011 Italy began to adopt smart grids – one of the first places in the world to do so. Smart grids aim to help with electricity flow and fluctuation of power through computers and other new technologies. Italian authorities
say these grids will be prioritised for any future upgrades.

Beyond governmental policy, public acceptance of wind energy in Italy is not great, even though Italian voters did vote against Berlusconi’s nuclear plan last year.

Even with the various hurdles Italy is facing, the National Renewable Energy Action Plan projects that 26.4% of Italy’s electricity consumption will be met by renewable energies, with wind power covering 5% and 0.5% of that coming from offshore, in order to meet the fast approaching 2020 targets.

Italy – Wind Energy Facts

CURRENT CAPACITY . . 6.7 GW
2020 FORECAST: . . In all, the Italian NREAP forecasts a cumulative installed wind capacity of 12,680 MW by 2020 - of which 680 offshore – producing some 20 TWh of electricity.
2020 WIND ENERGY TARGET . .17%

 

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