Italy’s Future Starts with “Renewable Cities”

Published on Monday, 12 June 2017

Data, stories and best practices from parts of Italy that have chosen clean energy. The Renewable Cities Report 2017, compiled by Legambiente with contributions from Enel Green Power and in collaboration with GSE

Renewables are a part of Italian excellence. That’s what we find in the Renewable Cities Report 2017, compiled by Legambiente with contributions from Enel Green Power and in collaboration with GSE, to give a picture – data in hand – of the health status of and market trends in renewables on the Italian peninsula.

The dossier, presented in Rome on 8 June, shows the success of clean sources in Italy and the changes that are occurring in the country, through numbers, stories and 200 best practices. Generation distributed from renewables is growing, along with energy innovation, thanks to the new figure of citizen prosumers (energy producer-consumers) and to the spread of energy communities. 

“The quickly approaching future lies in the development of renewable generation integrated with smart grids and storage systems.”

– Antonio Cammisecra, CEO of Enel Green Power

10 years of growth

The Italian market is one of the most mature markets on the international level. Despite this, in 2016, though at a lower rate than the past, 396 MW of photovoltaic, 282 MW of wind, 140 of geothermal, 513 of bio-energy and 346 of hydroelectric were installed. 

“In ten years, production from clean energy in Italy has more than doubled, going from 51.9 TWh to 106 TWh, and the number of plants has gone from a few hundred to more than a million, between electric and thermal.”

In 2016, renewable sources overall contributed to 34.3% of total energy consumption, decreased due to a drop in hydroelectric production (-8.9%).

The Renewable Cities Report 2017 reveals that the contribution made by so-called “new renewable sources” (biomass, photovoltaic, wind, geothermal, mini-hydroelectric) continues to grow: in the last year, they covered 22.7% of electricity production compared to overall consumption, confirming a trend of constant growth since the 2.6% of 2006.

“In the last two years, without incentives, 180,000 solar photovoltaic plants were built, equal to 25% of all those installed in Italy, for a total of 1,310 MW installed.”

100% Renewable Towns

In Italy, there are now 7,978 municipalities – in 2005 there were 356 – that have renewable technology for energy production in their territory. Of these, 3,021 produce more energy than their residents consume, and 40 are “100% renewable” – meaning they rely on clean energy alone to meet all the electricity and heating needs, lowering the expenses of citizens and businesses.

“The Renewable Cities Report shows the success of areas that believe in and bet on renewables. Now is the time to accelerate, not to be content with these results.”

– Edoardo Zanchini, Vice President of Legambiente

There are 7,978 cities with a solar plant in their territory; 904 “wind” cities, of which 293 can be considered autonomous from an electricity point of view, thanks to wind energy. There are 1,489 cities with mini-hydroelectric, 590 with geothermal, and 4,114 with bio-energy.

“The results of this study highlight how the growth of renewables is continuing around the world, a process that is moving forward in Italy as well. If we look at the territory, we see just how many cities and companies involved in innovative models there are”, emphasised Antonio Cammisecra, CEO of Enel Green Power.

Clean energy is good for the country

The growth of renewables translates into significant advantages. Legambiente’s Report highlights the reduction of thermoelectric plant production and of fossil fuel imports from abroad, with a correlated reduction of the cost of energy on the electricity market.

In ten years of renewables in Italy, there has been a 30% drop in oil, 20% in gas and 25% in coal. CO2 emissions fell sharply as well, with advantages for the planet’s climate. 

“Thanks to the development and spread of green technologies, Italy is saving economically and gaining in terms of well-being and protection of the environment.”

“The experiences discussed and awarded today demonstrate that Italy is on the cutting edge in the world. Today, with reduced plant costs and innovations underway for storage systems, smart grids and electrical cars, Italy can choose to focus on an energy model that has the territory and self-production from clean sources at its core”, said Edoardo Zanchini, Vice President of Legambiente.