Sunday, December 16, 2012

Italy - One of renewable energy leaders

Current situation with renewable energy in EU is looking exceptionally good, and Italy is no exception, in fact the Apennine peninsula country has in the last couple of years become one of the European clean energy leaders. According to the official government figures Italy is well on the track to meet its EU target of generating 26 percent of energy from renewable energy sources by 2020 since currently renewable energy satisfies more than 20% of Italy's energy demand.

The country's renewable energy capacity increased significantly in 2011 to the total amount of 41,352MW at the end of the year. Hydroelectricity is still the most important renewable energy source though the wind power is looking better than ever, and wind power is currently the second largest renewable energy source in the country (in 2009 alone Italy's wind energy capacity has increased by nearly 40 percent). At the end of 2009 Italy's total wind power capacity was around 4,850 MW. Most new wind farms were installed in Sicily, Puglia and Calabria.

According to the Italian Wind Energy Association (ANEV) around 6TWh of electricity were produced by wind energy in 2009. At the end of 2011, the country passed 6000 MW mark in installed wind power capacity, and is currently sixth largest wind energy producer in the world. Though wind power development is looking exceptionally good there are still some things that need to be improved, for instance Italy still suffers from inadequate grid infrastructure because the current capacity of grid is too low, and Italy's old-fashioned 150kV lines are incapable to dispatch all the power produced by the wind farms which has lead to some wind farms operating at 30% less than their normal capacity.

Solar power is also looking good, and this is mostly the result of generous incentives for solar power that have attracted many solar companies in Italy. Thanks to these favorable incentives Italy has now become a world's second largest photovoltaic market, behind the Germany. At current pace Italy is adding around 150 MW of solar capacity per month, around three times more than US, and Italy has even managed to surpass the US in total installed solar capacity in the first quarter of this year. California, the leading US state in installed solar power capacity, is currently adding around 20 MW of solar capacity per month, and for comparison Italy is three-fourths the size of California. By the end of 2010 Italy's total solar power capacity accounted for more than 2500 MW while at the end of 2011, total installed solar power capacity in Italy was 12,750 MW, which is quite an accomplishment, and Italy has certainly become one of the global solar energy leaders and of the largest photovoltaic markets in the world.

Italy also has volcanically active areas, like Larderello in Tuscany in central Italy. Those places are perfect for geothermal power production. Geothermal power accounts for about 1.7% of the total electric energy production in Italy and is about 7% of the total renewable energy produced in 2010. The total energy from geothermal sources was 5,376 GWh in 2010. Italy is the fifth country by geothermal installed capacity.

As said before, renewable energy is not only looking really good in Italy but also in entire EU, and vast majority of EU states are on track to meet their renewable energy targets, which should in the end result in 20 percent of European energy coming from renewable energy by 2020.

Renewable electricity accounted for the 24.5% of all electric energy produced in Italy in 2011. Italy is today one of the most significant renewable energy markets in the world, even despite the recession that is still taking heavy toll in the country.

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