Italy needs to set out explicit measures to support wind energy in the next decade – including on repowering of existing assets – if it is serious about meeting its climate targets.
On 4-5 June WindEurope participated in the E-Talia Summit in Milan, where the focus was on the development of Italian solar and wind energy and discussed the state of affairs in Italy’s draft National Energy and Climate Plan.
Italy already has 10 GW of onshore wind capacity installed, and only one offshore wind farm in Mediterranean waters, which is currently under construction. The country has the resources to significantly increase its share of wind energy – both on- and offshore – and the National Energy and Climate Plan is an obvious means of preparing the map for the future of Italian wind energy.
In its draft National Energy and Climate Plan, submitted to the European Commission in January 2019, Italy has already pledged to reach 17.5 GW of onshore wind capacity and 900 MW of offshore wind by 2030. However, as our assessment shows, this draft offers no indication of how these targets will be reached. The plan lacks substantial details on all topics directly relevant to the wind power industry, such as support to renewable energy production, renewable corporate Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), electrification, investments in Research & Innovation.
This will not be sufficient to meet the key challenges facing the Italian wind sector. One major challenge is repowering. More than half of Italy’s currently installed onshore wind fleet will reach the end of its operational life between today and 2030. At present, there is uncertainty as to the future of those wind turbines. Some of the current wind parks are located in areas where – due to changes in regulation over recent years – further installations are no longer possible. This is despite the fact that these areas have excellent wind speed and potential.
Moreover, Italy adopted a law in 2014 – the so-called Spalmaincentivi Volontario – that now prevents many repowering projects from accessing revenue stabilisation mechanisms. The law effectively obstructs repowering, contrary to the provisions in the new Renewable Energy Directive that asks EU Member States to facilitate repowering.
Italy’s current draft National Energy and Climate Plan does not clarify what measures and policies will be implemented to comply with these provisions of the new Renewable Energy Directive. In particular on how to simplify and reduce the authorisation processes for installing new and repowered turbines.
The recent EU elections show that there is widespread public support for a cleaner and more sustainable European economy. Italy has the potential to play a strong role in this. But if Italy fails to plan, it plans to fail.