European Offshore 2020: Italy - Switching tariffs onshore

With no big push for offshore, the Italian wind industry is looking to shift some of the allocated support to onshore, writes Heather O'Brian, but offshore developer Effeventi has not given up yet.

With zero capacity currently installed, and no projects set to come online in the near term, Italy looks unlikely to achieve its target of 680MW for offshore wind by 2020. Italian wind energy association Anev and renewable energy association Assorinnovabili are lobbying the government to shift a portion of the feed-in tariffs currently earmarked for offshore wind on to onshore projects, a sure sign that most industry participants also view the target as beyond reach.

"It's possible there will be something operating offshore in 2020, but I absolutely don't think it's possible to get to 680MW," says Alessandro Totaro, who is responsible for wind energy at Assorinnovabili. He notes that Italy's offshore wind resources cannot compete with northern Europe, while sea depths off much of the Italian coastline are excessive for conventional offshore wind farms. Aside from technical issues, largely already incorporated in Italy's modest target, a complex bureaucratic process and the opposition of many Italian regional governments to offshore wind farms have also contributed to slow development.

While no Italian offshore projects have even been completely authorised, a handful are at a relatively advanced stage. Among these, one 30MW project near the Taranto port in the Apulia region was earlier this year assigned an offshore FIT. Even though the incentive was available for up to 650MW offshore, that project has been the only one to even bid for the offshore FIT in two auctions to date, leading trade associations to push for these funds to be made available onshore.

Luca Wagner, general manager of offshore Italian wind developer Effeventi, which has a 168MW project off the coast of Molise, nonetheless believes a few hundred megawatts of offshore wind capacity could be up and running in 2020. "We've just been asked to change our layout for the umpteenth time, but we have no intention of giving up," he said.

Current offshore capacity: Zero

NREAP 2020 aim: 680MW

Realistic forecast: Up to 200MW

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