Policy needs action to attract investors

ITALY: Italy is aiming to attract a new wave of investments in renewable energy, particularly wind and solar, to meet the ambitious objectives of its recently approved national energy strategy.

Policy aims need to be backed up by concrete action to attract investors to Italy's wind market (pic: E.on)
Policy aims need to be backed up by concrete action to attract investors to Italy's wind market (pic: E.on)

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The Strategia Energetica Nazionale, known by the acronym SEN, calls for renewable energy reaching 28% of energy consumption in 2030, compared with 17.5% in 2015.

Electricity from renewable sources is seen to account for 55% that year, up from 33.5% in 2015. The SEN calls for wind production rising to 40TWh in 2030, more than double the 15TWh of 2015.

"For wind and other sources to meet the objectives, it will be necessary to progress much more quickly than has been the case in the last few years," said Alessandro Marangoni, CEO of consultancy Althesys.  

Italy’s energy plan highlights both the importance of repowering wind farms and the need to simplify the authorisation process for these projects to meet green energy goals.

It also addresses financing, with competitive auctions for fixed tariffs seen remaining in place to 2020, and power purchase agreements (PPAs) with corporate counterparties taking over after that.

The document acknowledges that a market framework for PPAs is lacking and sees a potential role for public guarantees and support in the early days.

According to Marangoni, investors are now seeking concrete measures to support the plan’s objectives, such as legislation on upcoming auctions and specific measures to streamline authorisations. "We need to move from strategy to execution; it’s clear that ambitious objectives aren’t sufficient for investors."

Meanwhile, the SEN has clearly got the industry’s attention. Italian power giant Enel, which has grown its renewable energy portfolio mainly in emerging markets and North America in recent years, has

indicated it could be among investors participating in a new wave of renewable projects in its home country should adequate policies be put in place.

Yet, with Italian national elections slated for this spring, there are clearly execution risks. And a recent study from wind energy association Anev has warned that without policy action, installed wind capacity could actually slip back to about 7GW in 2030 from roughly 9.4GW at mid-2017 as old wind farms come offline.

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