Wind power in Italy

The regions which added the most new wind farm capacity were Sicily, Puglia and Calabria, followed by Campania and Sardinia. Some wind power developments are also taking place in central and northern Italy, in regions such as Liguria, Piedmont, Veneto, Emilia Romagna and Tuscany.

The Italian Wind Energy Association (ANEV) estimates that more than 6TWh of electricity were produced by wind energy in 2009, bearing in mind that around 700 MW of new capacity came online only in the second half of the year.

The most active wind farm developers and power producers were the Gruppo IVPC, Veronagest, Asja Ambiente, Edison Energie Speciali, Falk Renewables and Sorgenia. In terms of total installed capacity, IP Maestrale, Gruppo IVPC and Enel Green Power are now the leading wind farms owners in Italy.

The global financial crisis affected Italy’s wind energy sector, not in terms of production or employment, but in terms of tightening project finance. Consequently, some project funding has slowed down, and this is expected to continue through 2010.

In 1991, a feed-in tariff was introduced by the CIP6 regime, which provided for the payment of premium prices for renewable electricity.

The regime was implemented between 1992 and June 1995 and was abolished in 1997, as part of the government’s reorganisation of the electricity sector.

The 1999 Bersani decree provided for the gradual liberalisation of the Italian electricity market and encouraged generation from renewable sources by introducing priority grid access for renewable electricity, as well as a renewable energy quota system.

This requires power producers and importers to produce a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources. Green certificates are used to fulfil this obligation, starting from 2% and gradually increasing.

In January 2002, Italy implemented a new support mechanism for renewable energy sources based on Green Certificates, to replace the abolished CIP6 regime and to complement the quota system.

The 2008 Finance Act and the subsequent Ministerial Decree from December 2009 introduced an increase of the quota, which provides for an annual increase of 0.75% for the years 2007 to 2012. This translates into a quota of 5.3% in 2009, 6.05% in 2010 and 6.8% in 2011.

In addition, the following changes were implemented to the Green Certificate system:
• Duration: RE plants with a capacity of more than 1 MW and coming into operation after 31 December 2007 are entitled to receive Green Certificates for a period of 15 years instead of 12 years.

• Characteristics of Green Certificates: From 2008, Green Certificates have a value of 1 MWh. For calculating the number of Green Certificates, the net electricity output of each plant is multiplied with a parameter, depending on the technology. For onshore wind turbines, this parameter is 1.0; for offshore wind turbines it is 1.1.

• Value and price: Starting from 2008, Green Certificates issued by the national TSO (GSE) are sold at a price equal to the difference between a reference value, which is €180 per MWh for the first year, and the annual average price for electricity sale.

The reference price may be altered every three years by the GSE to ensure a remuneration that is adequate.Another innovation was introduced in 2009, which moved the obligation to source a certain amount of energy from renewable energy sources (or buy Green Certificates) from the producer to the distributor by 2012.

For renewable energy generators, this will mean that they will trade Green Certificates with distributors rather than producers. However, further implementation measures concerning the operational details of these changes are still outstanding.

Under the EU Renewable Energy Directive, Italy is required to increase its share of renewable energy to 17% of its final energy consumption, up from just 5.2% in 2005.

Obstacles for wind energy development

The Italian wind energy market continues to be hampered by ambiguities in the current policy design and a delay in the introduction of measures needed to develop the industry, such as guidelines and details on the regional breakdown of the country’s overall renewable energy quota.

In addition, the Italian electricity system suffers from inadequate grid infrastructure, which leads to frequent curtailment of wind power production to manage grid congestion. The grid problem concerns all projects in Campania, Apulia and Basilicata and some projects in Sardinia.

These problems occur systematically due to the low capacity of the grid, especially on old-fashioned 150kv lines that are incapable of dispatching all the power produced by the wind farms.

In 2009, some wind farms operated at 30% less than their normal capacity over the course of the year due to inadequate grids. In some cases, wind farms were limited by over 70%, and in other cases, some wind farms were shut down completely.

Italy’s grid issues need urgent attention, and the sector is waiting for a strong structural response to adapt the grid to accommodate both the current installed capacity and the planned wind energy capacity increase.

In addition, wind operators must be adequately compensated for such curtailment. In addition to grid issues, Italy also suffers from administrative constraints such as complex authorization procedures and high connection costs.

The Italian wind energy sector employs 15,000 people

The wind sector is beginning to gain importance in Italy as employment grows in various sectors that are directly and indirectly connected to clean energy technology development.

A study on employment in the sector, jointly conducted by the Italian Labour Union and ANEV, revealed that in 2008, 15,152 people were employed in the Italian wind energy sector, 4,430 of whom were employed directly.

Assuming that Italy reaches its goal of 16,200 MW by 2020, the total number of jobs would rise to 66,010, of which 19,000 would be direct employment.

Outlook for 2010ANEV estimates that at least another 1,100 MW of wind energy capacity will be added to the Italian portfolio in 2010, but there is hope that this number will be even higher as Italy’s economy improves. According to ANEV, 16,200 MW of wind energy could be installed by 2020, producing 27 TWh of electricity, and reaching approximately 50% of the 2020 objective.

Wind Power in Italy by region

Puglia-1,158.16 MW
Sicilia-1,115.82 MW
Campania-808.99 MW
Sardigna- 585.81 MW
Calabria-397.84 MW
Molise-241.52 MW
Basilicata-227.36 MW
Abruzzo-205.42 MW
Toscany- 44.75 MW
Liguria- 20.20 MW
Emilia Romagna- 16.30 MW
Piedmont- 12.50 MW
Total Italy- 4,850.00 MW