Environment & Sustainability

RES-E in Italy: where are we?

A report released few days ago by the Italian Ministry of Economic Development shows, together with Terna statistical data, the slow but persistent increasing share of renewables in the power mix of the peninsula

RES-E in Italy: where are we?

On July 20th the Italian Ministry of Economic Development (Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico – MiSE) has published the report on the national energy state in 2017, showing, among other things, the slow but continuous growth pace of renewables for electricity generation – RES-E in Italy. These data depicts the progressive evolution of the national power system, especially when coupled with the statistical data on the national power system, published every year by the Italian TSO, Terna.

Where are we now?

What is happening now in terms of RES-E in Italy is nothing compared to what was happening just few years ago. But this is totally natural and pretty welcome: we are no more in a boom era mainly fuelled with high incentives guaranteed to anyone who was installing a renewable electricity generation technology.  The physiological decrease in the growth rate of RES-E in Italy following lower and based on capacity quotas and competitive procedures incentives was something that the power system and market needed in order to properly cope with the structural changes that they are facing. What is important to highlight tough, is that the growth of RES-E in Italy never really stopped during the last ten years, as can be seen in the two following pictures.

Gross RES-E generation and share on electricity gross final consumption (GFC) in Italy

Gross RES-E installed capacity and share on total electricity generation capacity in Italy

The yearly total generation is highly dependent on the hydro source, which, as the recent history teaches us, can result in more than 20 TWh of difference in the total generation between two years: in 2014 it was equal to 58.5 TWh, while in 2017 is was around 36.1 TWh, due to different precipitation conditions. For this reason the EU Renewable Energy Directive requires the Member States to normalise the electricity generated from hydro and also wind power, in order to have a yearly generation that take into account the historical weather conditions of the country.  Considering the normalised generation the share of renewable on electricity gross final consumptions (GFC) has always increased or at least remained stable.

The RES-E total capacity has been increasing every year, and all the different sources steadily contributed to the increase, with the only exception of geothermal, which has more geographical constraints and where ENEL has already exploited most of the more interesting sites  in the most promising region (Tuscany).  The increasing weight of RES-E in Italy over the total generation capacity has been due on one side to the mentioned steady increase in the RES-E capacity, but also to the decommissioning of old fossil fuelled plants (oil, coal and also natural gas).

Where are we going?

The national power system is slowly changing, and those continuous “little” changes are cumulating, and energy companies, together with other industries, policy makers and energy authorities are supporting them and adapting to them. With our day by day choices and decisions we are little by little approaching the he very final goal of a complete decarbonisation, although the recent pace was probably too slow.

The 2017 Italy’s National Energy Strategy, published by the MiSE on November 10th 2017, has set a target share of RES-E on electricity GFC equal to 55%. To achieve that goal (normalised) RES-E growth rate should be at least equal to 1.7% every year from 2018 to 2030, which is much higher that the almost flat growth we had in the past few years.

The Italian power market needs some good reason to go faster, and this reason should mainly come from a well-structured and forward looking energy policy.

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