Electricity sector of Italy
Data
Installed capacity (2019)116.43 GW [1]
Share of renewable energy41.7% (2020)[2]
GHG emissions from electricity generation (2007)7.4 tons CO2 per capita
Average electricity use (2020)302,7 TWh[2]
Services
Share of private sector in generation100%
Competitive supply to large usersYes
Competitive supply to residential usersYes
Institutions
Responsibility for transmissionTerna
Responsibility for regulationAutorità di regolamentazione per energia, reti e ambiente (ARERA), former AEEGSI[3]
Responsibility for renewable energyGestore dei Servizi Energetici (GSE)

Italy's total electricity consumption was 302.75 terawatt-hour (TWh) in 2020, of which 270.55 TWh (89.3%) was produced domestically and the remaining 10.7% was imported.[4]

Italy has a high share of electricity in the total final energy consumption. The share of primary energy dedicated to electricity production is above 35%,[5] and grew steadily since the 1970s.

In 2014, 38.2% of the national electric energy consumption came from renewable sources (in 2005 this value was 15.4%), covering 16.2% of the total energy consumption of the country (5.3% in 2005).[6] Solar energy production alone accounted for almost 9% of the total electric production in the country in 2014, making Italy the country with the highest contribution from solar energy in the world.[6] Wind power, hydroelectricity, and geothermal power are also important sources of electricity in the country.

Italy abandoned nuclear power following the 1987 referendum in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, and nuclear power in Italy has never been greater than a few percent of total power generation.[7]

Overview

Italy electricity production by source
Italy electricity production by source
Italy renewable electricity production by source
Italy renewable electricity production by source

In 2018, gross electricity production in Italy reached 289.7 TWh, down 2.1% compared to 2017;[8] thermal power stations ensured 66.5% of production and renewable energies 33.5%: hydraulic 17.4%, solar 7.8%, wind 6.1% and geothermal 2.1% (note: this statistic includes biomass and waste in the thermal).[8] Net production was 279.8 TWh, including 2.3 TWh for pumping.[8]

Evolution of electricity production in Italy
Gross
production (TWh)
1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2017 2018 2019 2020 % 2020 var.
2020/1990
Fossil thermal 8.0 70.2 133.3 178.2 217.8 218.9 187.0 170.5 173.1 160.5 57.0 % -10 %
of which coal nd nd nd 35.8 30.5 44.4 35.1 31.0 21.3 13.1 4.6 % -63 %
of which oil nd nd nd 102.7 85.9 21.7 11.5 11.0 10.2 9.8 3.5 % -90 %
of which natural gas nd nd nd 39.7 101.4 152.7 140.3 128.5 141.7 137.6 48.9 % +247 %
Nuclear thermal 3.2 2.2
Hydraulic 46.1 41.3 47.5 35.1 50.9 54.4 38.0 50.5 48.2 48.6 17.3 % +38 %
minus pumping nd -1.4 -3.3 -4.8 -9.1 -4.5 nd nd nd nd nd
Geothermal 2.1 2.7 2.7 3.2 4.7 5.4 6.2 6.1 6.1 6.0 2.1 % +87 %
Biomasse 0.014 1.0 7.4 17.0 16.8 17.2 17.3 6.2 % x1238
Renewed waste 0.04 0.4 2.0 2.4 2.4 2.4 2.4 0.8 % +6,343 %
Wind 0.002 0.56 9.1 17.7 17.7 20.2 18.7 6.6 % ns
Photovoltaic 0.004 0.02 1.9 24.4 22.7 23.7 24.9 8.9 % ns
Total renewable energies 48.2 42.6 46.9 38.4 48.5 80.3 105.7 116.2 117.7 117.9 41.9 % +207 %
Waste not renewed 0.05 0.5 2.2 2.5 2.4 2.4 2.5 0.9 % +4,619 %
Other Sources 0 0.8 0.8 0.7 0.6 0.6 0.6 0.2 % ns
Gross production[note 1] 56.2 116.1 182.5 216.6 276.6 297.6 295.8 289.7 293.9 281.5 100 % +30 %
Own consumption 1.4 5.0 9.0 20.5 28.8 21.8 22.0 22.5 22.2 21.3 7.6 % -1 %
Net production 54.9 111.1 173.5 196.1 247.8 275.8 272.9 267.2 271.6 260.2 92.4 % +33 %
Sources: Terna for the 1960s to 1980s;[9] International Energy Agency[10] for 1990-2020.

The Great Recession at the end of 2008 reduced demand for electricity by 5.7% in 2009.[11] The strong growth of renewable energies (+47% since 2010) has made it possible to reduce fossil fuel-based production by 27% between 2010 and 2020; the drop in demand caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 is however partly responsible for this decline in fossil fuels.[11]

Evolution of installed power[12]
Gross
power (MW)
1960 1980 2000 2010 2015 2017 2018 Var. 2018
2000
Capacity factor
2018 (%)*
Classic thermal 4,556 30,654 56,431 78,341 68,597 64,045 64,021 +13.4 % 34.4 %
Nuclear thermal 1,471
Hydraulic 11,468 15,904 20,658 21,893 22,560 22,838 22,911 +10.9 % 25.2 %
Geothermal 287 440 627 772 821 813 813 +30 % 85.7 %
Wind + Photovoltaic 370 9,406 28,063 29,448 30,372 +8109 % 15.4 %
Total power 16,311 48,469 78,086 110,380 120,041 117,144 118,117 +51 % 28.1 %
* 2018 capacity factor: the calculation takes into account the staggering of commissioning.

Generating capacity in 2019 and production in 2020 was:

Electricity Generation
Power Source Generating Capacity (MW) (2019)[13] Production (TWh) (2020)[14]
Hydroelectric 22,541.1 46.2
Thermal 61,348.9 171,1
Wind 10,679.5 18.5
Solar PV 20,865.3 25.5
Total 116,434.8 283.1

In 2008 Italy consumed electricity in 6,054 kWh per capita, while the EU15 average was slightly higher 7,409 kWh per capita. In 2009 consumption was divided by power source: 13.5% import, 65.8% fossil electricity and 20.7% renewable electricity.[15]

Electricity per capita in Italy (kWh/ hab.)[15]
Use Production Import Imp. % Fossil Nuclear Other RE Biomass Wind Non-RE use** RE %***
2004 6,003 5,219 784 13.1% 3,919 0 1,001 299 4,703 21.7%
2005 6,029 5,189 841 13.9% 4,200 0 884 105 5,040 16.4%
2006 6,132 5,349 783 12.8% 4,377 0 849 123 5,160 15.8%
2008 6,054 5,384 671 11.1% 4,271 0 992 120 4,942 18.4%
2009 5,527 4,783 744 13.5% 3,636 0 912* 132 102* 4,381 20.7%
* Other RE includes waterpower, solar and geothermal electricity and wind power production until 2008
** Non RE use = use – production of renewable electricity
*** RE % = (production of RE / use) * 100% [note 2]

Power sources

For a detailed picture of the sources of electric power in Italy (including decommission nuclear plants and renewable energy projects), see the list of power stations in Italy.

Fossil fuels

Pie chart of Italy's fossil fuel electricity production by fuel type
Pie chart of Italy's fossil fuel electricity production by fuel type
Thermoelectric plant in Turbigo, Lombardy
Thermoelectric plant in Turbigo, Lombardy

Fossil fuel thermal power plants provide the majority of electricity production in Italy, with a total of 192.1 TWh in 2018, or 66.3% of the electricity produced in the country.[16] During the decade 1997-2007, natural gas power plants experienced strong growth, rising from 24 to 55% of total electricity production; since 2009 they have fallen sharply, falling to 33.5% in 2014, but still representing 53.4% ​​of thermal generation; from 2015 to 2017, they resumed their progression: +35% in two years, rising to 48.4% of total electricity production and 67.2% of thermal production in 2017 (66.9% in 2018);[16] the rest of this production is provided by coal (14.8%; down 42% from its peak in 2012 after experiencing a 24% rebound in 2011-12, as in the whole of Europe due to the drop in coal prices caused by the shale gas boom in the United States), gases derived from processes (1.3%), petroleum products (1.7%), other fuels (mainly biomass, as well as tar, refinery gas, recovered heat, etc.) representing 15.3%.[16]

Combined cycle (gas) units numbered 174 and totaled a power of 40,242 MW (including 58 purely electric units: 22,300 MW and 116 cogeneration units: 17,942 MW), and gas turbines 130 units ( 3,073MW); steam (coal) condensing units were 104 (12,637 MW).[17]

The fuels consumed for the production of electricity in 2018 were:[18]

Enel launched a call for projects for 23 old power plants being closed, representing 13,000 MW, out of a total of 54 power plants; the Tor del Sale combined cycle power plant in Piombino, near Livorno in Tuscany, will serve as a pilot site.[19]

In 2017, Enel plans to achieve its goal of zero CO2 emissions, initially set for 2050, 10 years in advance.[20] Enel Green Power installed 2,500 MW of renewable energy plants in 2017.[21] Enel had already closed 13,000 MW of old fossil thermal power plants in 2015.[22]

Hydroelectricity

Further information: Hydroelectricity in Italy

Italy is the world's 16th largest producer of hydroelectric power, with a total of 44,257 GWh produced in 2016.[23] Energy from hydro accounted for about 18% of the national production in 2010, with hydroelectric plants located mainly in the Alps and the Apennines.[24] In 1883, the engineer Lorenzo Vanossi designed and installed in Chiavenna the first electric generator in Italy powered by hydraulic power.[25] From the beginning of the 20th century to the 1950s, hydroelectric power accounted for the majority of generated power, but as energy needs increased approaching the 21st century that percentage dropped significantly.[26]

Entracque Power Plant in Entracque, Piedmont
Evolution of hydroelectric production in Italy[27]
Production (TWh) 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2015 2016 2017 2018
Hydraulic 46.1 41.3 47.5 35.1 50.9 54.4 47.0 44.3 38.0 50.5
minus pumping nd -1.4 -3.3 -4.8 -9.1 -4.5 -1.9 -2.5 -2.5 -2.3
= hydraulic net 46.1 39.9 44.2 30.3 41.8 49.9 45.1 41.8 35.5 48.2
Total gross electricity production[note 3] 56.2 116.1 182.5 211.8 267.5 297.6 283.0 289.8 295.8 289.7
% hydraulic net 82 % 34.4 % 24.2 % 14.3 % 15.6 % 16.8 % 15.9 % 14.4 % 12.0 % 16.6 %

Production by type of development evolved as follows:

Hydroelectric production by type of development[28]
Production (GWh) 2003 2010 2014 2015 2016 2017 2017/2003 % production 2017 % power 2017
run-of-river power plants 14,583 21,741 25,649 20,919 19,847 17,724 +22 % 49 % 29.8 %
sluice plants 12,323 15,911 18,535 13,214 12,591 10,067 -18 % 27.8 % 27 %
lake plants 9,763 13,466 14,362 11,404 9,994 8,408 -14 % 23.5 % 43.2 %
Total 36,670 51,117 58,545 45,537 42,432 36,199 -1.3 % 100 % 100 %

The number and power of plants by size is:

Number and capacity of power plants by size in 2017[29]
Size Number % Power (MW) %
power ≤ 1 MW 3,074 72 % 841 4.5 %
power from 1 to 10 MW 886 21 % 2,641 14 %
power > 10 MW 308 7 % 15,381 81.5 %
Total 4,268 100 % 18,863 100 %

Geothermal

Further information: Geothermal power in Italy

Geothermal power plant in Larderello, Tuscany
Geothermal power plant in Larderello, Tuscany

Italy was the first country in the world to exploit geothermal energy to produce electricity.[30] The high geothermal gradient that forms part of the peninsula makes it potentially exploitable also in other regions; research carried out in the 1960s and 1970s identified potential geothermal fields in Lazio and Tuscany, as well as in most volcanic islands.[30] Prince Piero Ginori Conti tested the first geothermal power generator on 4 July 1904 in Larderello, in the province of Pisa. It successfully lit four light bulbs.[31] In 2019, Italy held 6th place in the world for geothermal electricity production with 6.07 TWh, or 6.7% of global geothermal production.[10]

Italy has, in 2017, 34 geothermal power plants, all located in Tuscany, with a total installed capacity of 813 MW, of which 407 MW in the province of Pisa, 204 MW in the province of Siena and 202 MW in the province of Grosseto;[32] 27 plants have less than 20 MW and 4 more than 40 MW;[32] from 2003 to 2017, the number of power plants has changed only slightly (34 in 2003, 31 from 2004 to 2008, 32 in 2009, 33 from 2010 to 2012, 34 since 2013), their power has increased by 707 MW at 813 MW (+15%) with a peak at 821 MW in 2014-2015, and their production from 5,341 GWh to 6,201 GWh (+16%) (6,289 GWh in 2016);[32] the availability of the geothermal source is constant, so that the capacity factor is high (record duration of use of 7,626 hours in 2017, or 87.1%; 7,720 MW hours in 2016, or 88.1%).[32]

Wind power

Further information: Wind power in Italy

Italy produced 18,702 GWh of wind electricity in 2020 (down 7.4%), i.e. 6.6% of the country's electricity production, and globally, it ranks 14th in 2020 with 1.2% of the world total.[33] In 2018, Italy was the 5th largest producer of wind electricity in Europe.[34] In 2017, wind power provided 17% of renewable electricity, 6.0% of the country's electricity production and 5.3% of its electricity consumption.[35]

Wind turbines in Frigento, Campania
Wind turbines in Frigento, Campania
Wind power generation in Italy[33]
Year Production (GWh) Increase Share elec. prod.
2000 563 0.2 %
2005 2,344 0.8 %
2006 2,971 +27 % 0.9 %
2007 4,034 +36 % 1.3 %
2008 4,861 +21 % 1.5 %
2009 6,543 +35 % 2.2 %
2010 9,126 +39 % 3.0 %
2011 9,856 +8 % 3.3 %
2012 13,407 +36 % 4.5 %
2013 14,897 +11 % 5.1 %
2014 15,178 +2 % 5.4 %
2015 14,844 -2 % 5.2 %
2016 17,689 +19.2 % 6.1 %
2017 17,742 +0.2 % 6.0 %
2018 17,716 -0.1 % 6.1 %
2019 20,202 +14.0 % 6.9 %
2020 18,702 -7.4 % 6.6 %

Wind farms are mainly located in the six southern regions: 90% of the number of sites, 90.5% of the installed capacity and 90.6% of the production in 2017:[35]

Region Number Installed
power
2017 (MW)
Production
2017 (GWh)
prod. share
wind 2017
Apulia 1,173 2,473 4,980 28.1 %
Sicily 863 1,811 2,803 15.8 %
Campania 593 1,390 2,620 14.8 %
Calabria 411 1,088 2,049 11.5 %
Basilicata 1,402 1,055 1,966 11.1 %
Sardinia 580 1,024 1,656 9.3 %
Total 5,579 9,766 17,742 100 %

Solar power

Further information: Solar power in Italy

Italy is a fairly large producer of solar thermal energy: at the end of 2017, Italy had 4.1 Mm2 (millions of m²) of collectors, whose heat production amounted in 2017 to 8,745 TJ ( around 209 ktoe), up 4.3% compared to 2016 and 34.4% since 2012;[36] the residential sector represents 74% of the total, and the tertiary sector 20%;[36] the most producing provinces are Lombardy (17.3%), Veneto (13.6%) and Piedmont (10.1%).[36] The International Energy Agency estimates Italian photovoltaic solar electricity production at 23,689 GWh in 2019, or 8.1% of total electricity production, ranking 6th in the world with 3.3% of world production, and 2nd in Europe.[37]

Photovoltaic power station in Mazzarrà Sant'Andrea, Sicily
Photovoltaic power station in Mazzarrà Sant'Andrea, Sicily
Photovoltaic electricity production in Italy[37]
Year Production (GWh) Increase Share elec. prod.
2008 193 0.06 %
2009 676 +250 % 0.2 %
2010 1,906 +182 % 0.6 %
2011 10,796 +466 % 3.6 %
2012 18,862 +74.7 % 6.3 %
2013 21,589 +14.5 % 7.4 %
2014 22,306 +3.3 % 8.0 %
2015 22,942 +2.9 % 8.1 %
2016 22,104 -3.7 % 7.6 %
2017 24,378 +10.3 % 8.2 %
2018 22,654 -7.1 % 7.8 %
2019 23,689 +4.6 % 8.1 %

Photovoltaic installations are installed both in the north and in the south, although the yield is better in the south;[38] there is a maximum settlement density on the Adriatic coast, from the Marche to Apulia:[38]

Map of solar radiation in Italy.
Map of solar radiation in Italy.
Region Number
end of 2018
Installed
power
2018 (MWc)
Production
2018 (GWh)
prod. share
PV 2018
Installed
power
per inhabitant
2018 (Wc)[39]
Apulia 48,366 2,652 3,438 15.2 % 655
Lombardy 125,250 2,303 2,252 9.9 % 229
Emilia-Romagna 85,156 2,031 2,187 9.7 % 456
Veneto 114,264 1,913 1,990 8.8 % 390
Sicily 52,701 1,400 1,788 7.9 % 279
Piedmont 57,362 1,605 1,695 7.5 % 367
Lazio 54,296 1,353 1,619 7.1 % 229
Marche 27,752 1,081 1,237 5.5 % 706
Total 822,301 20,108 22,654 100 % 325

Photovoltaic installations are divided between the four main sectors of activity:

Photovoltaic electricity production sites by sector in 2018[40]
Sector Number Power
(MWc)
Production
(GWh)
Prod. share
total solar cells
Self-consumption
(GWh)
Self-consumed
share
Industrial 33,456 9,812 11,567 15.2 % 2,239 19.4 %
Residential 670,124 3,206 3,403 9.9 % 1,060 31.1 %
Tertiary 90,197 4,501 4,754 9.7 % 1,371 28.8 %
Agriculture 28,524 2,588 2,929 8.8 % 466 15.9 %
Total 822,301 20,108 22,654 100 % 5,137 22.7 %[41]

Biomass

In 2019, Italy ranked 8th in the world for electricity production from biomass with 17.2 TWh, or 3.2% of world production.[10]

Biomass power plant in Costa di Rovigo, Veneto
Biomass power plant in Costa di Rovigo, Veneto
Bioenergy power generation units in Italy[42]
Source 2010 2015 2017 variation
2017/10
number MW number MW number MW number MW
Solid biomass 142 1,243 369 1,612 468 1,667 +230 % +34 %
urban waste 71 798 69 953 65 936 -8 % +17 %
others 71 445 300 659 403 731 +468 % +64 %
Biogas 451 508 1,924 1,406 2,116 1,444 +369 % +184 %
of waste 228 341 380 399 409 411 +79 % +21 %
of sludge 47 15 78 44 78 45 +66 % +200 %
animal waste 95 41 493 217 602 235 +534 % +473 %
agricultural and forestry waste 81 110 973 746 1027 753 +1168 % +585 %
Bioliquids 97 601 525 1,038 500 1,024 +415 % +70 %
vegetal oils 86 510 436 892 403 869 +369 % +70 %
others 11 91 89 146 97 154 +782 % +69 %
Total bioenergy 669 2,352 2,647 4,056 2,913 4,135 +335 % +76 %

From 2003 to 2017, the power of bioenergy units increased at the rate of 10% per year, but this growth slowed down from 2013 (+2.5% only in five years);[43] the average size of units fell sharply: 1.4 MW in 2017 compared to 4.3 MW in 2005 and 4.8 MW in 2009.[43]

Biomass power plant in Guarda Veneta, Veneto
Biomass power plant in Guarda Veneta, Veneto
Electricity production in bioenergy in Italy[44]
GWh 2010 2015 2017 variation
2017/10
Solid biomass 4,308 6,290 6,615 +54 %
urban waste 2,048 2,428 2,422 +18 %
others 2,260 3,862 4,193 +86 %
Biogas 2,054 8,212 8,299 +304 %
of waste 1,415 1,527 1,426 +1 %
of sludge 28 128 136 +386 %
animal waste 221 1,067 1,194 +440 %
agricultural and forestry waste 390 5,490 5,543 +1321 %
Bioliquids 3,078 4,894 4,464 +45 %
vegetal oils 2,682 4,190 3,700 +38 %
others 397 704 763 +92 %
Total bioenergy 9,440 19,396 19,378 +105 %

Imported electricity

Ragusa's substation of Malta–Sicily interconnector

Italian international grid connections comprise several lines connecting the national grid with Europe: 4 with France, 12 with Switzerland, 1 with Austria, 2 with Slovenia, 1 with Greece, 1 with Corsica.[45] In addition, a new subsea HCDC power line was installed in 2015 between Sicily and Malta. Electricity imports amounted to about 40 TWh in 2008. This was the second highest import in the world, after Brazil.[46] Most electricity imports into Italy come from Switzerland and France. Import accounts for around 10% of total consumption.[47]

Italy's international electricity exchanges
GWh Imports Exports Balance
Country 2015 2016 2017 2018 2015 2016 2017 2018 2015 2016 2017 2018
France 16,316 13,987 13,717 15,386 810 1,038 1,058 806 15,506 12,949 12,659 14,580
Switzerland 26,180 20,977 21,592 22,540 824 1,322 1,265 1,139 25,356 19,655 20,327 21,401
Austria 1,538 1,443 1,332 1,417 40 68 120 24 1,498 1,375 1,212 1,393
Slovenia 6,223 6,468 5,894 6,739 81 171 151 60 5,743 6,297 6,142 6,679
Greece 592 306 325 1,078 1,672 2,030 1,638 611 -1,080 -1,724 -1,313 467
Malta 0 0 35 11 1,044 1,525 902 632 -1,044 -1,525 -867 -621
Total 50,849 43,181 42,895 47,170 4,471 6,154 5,134 3,271 46,378 37,026 37,761 43,899
Source: Terna, statistics 2018[8]
foreign trade balance: negative if exporter

Nuclear power

Main article: Nuclear power in Italy

Enrico Fermi Nuclear Power Plant in Trino, Piedmont, which shutdowned in 1990.[48]
Enrico Fermi Nuclear Power Plant in Trino, Piedmont, which shutdowned in 1990.[48]

Nuclear power in Italy is a controversial topic. Italy started to produce nuclear energy in the early 1960s, but all plants were closed by 1990 following the Italian nuclear power referendum. Much concern has arisen because Italy is in a seismically active area, placing it at greater risk for a nuclear accident.[49]

Four nuclear power plants have been active in Italy:[48]

Name Place Power (MWe)[48] Type[48] Start of operation[48] Shutdown[48]
Caorso Caorso 860 BWR 1978 1990
Enrico Fermi Trino 260 PWR 1964 1990
Garigliano Sessa Aurunca 150 BWR 1964 1982
Latina Latina 153 GCR (Magnox) 1963 1987

An attempt to change the decision was made in 2008 by the government (see also nuclear power debate), which called the nuclear power phase-out a "terrible mistake, the cost of which totalled over €50 billion".[50] Minister of Economic Development Claudio Scajola proposed to build as many as 10 new reactors, with the goal of increasing the nuclear share of Italy's electricity supply to about 25% by 2030.[51] Former Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi and President of France Nicolas Sarkozy made an agreement to construct four nuclear power plants in Italy in February 2009.[52]

The actual construction of nuclear power is unlikely due to the lack of public support and environmental and construction concerns.[53] However, following the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents, the Italian government put a one-year moratorium on plans to revive nuclear power.[54] On 11–12 June 2011, Italian voters passed a referendum to cancel plans for new reactors. Over 94% of the electorate voted in favor of the construction ban, with 55% of the eligible voters participating, making the vote binding.[55]

Renewable energy targets

Main article: Renewable energy in Italy

Solar panels in Piombino, Tuscany. Italy is one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy.[6]
Solar panels in Piombino, Tuscany. Italy is one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy.[6]

Italy has a 17 percent target in its total energy use set by the European Union for 2020 and is close to meeting its goal having reached 16.2% of renewable energy consumption in 2014.[6] Italy's target for the total renewable electricity is 100 TWh in 2020, included 20 TWh wind, 42 TWh hydro, 19 TWh biomass, 12 TWh solar, and 7 TWh geothermal power.[56] The share of renewable electricity was 38.2% of national energy consumption in 2014 (in 2005 this value was 15.4%), covering 16.2% of the total energy consumption of the country (5.3% in 2005).[6]

All of the 8,047 Italian municipalities (comune) have deployed some source of renewable energy, with hydroelectric power being the leading renewable energy source in terms of production.

The wind energy target, 5.3% of the total electricity use, is the 6th lowest in the European Union,[note 4] whose average target in wind is 14% in 2020. EWEA’s analysis of the Italy's plans reflect disappointment since the action plan suggests an annual slow-down of the wind power generation capacity rate and the rates of authorization for new plants.[56]

Since 2001, all the producers and importers of electricity in Italy are forced to produce a quota of electricity from renewable sources or to buy green certificates from a different company with a surplus in renewable energy production.[57]

Cost of electricity

Italy has one of Europe's highest final electricity prices. In particular, unlike all other countries, price per kWh tends to be lower for lower consumption levels. This policy aims at encouraging energy saving.[58][59] Higher final prices are also a consequence of the extensive use of natural gas, which is more expensive than other fossil fuels, and the expenses from renewable energy incentives, which is expected to reach a total cost of more than €10 billion in 2012.[60]

Consumption

According to the International Energy Agency, the breakdown by sector of final electricity consumption in Italy has evolved as follows:

Final electricity consumption in Italy by sector (TWh)
Sector 1990 % 2000 % 2010 % 2015 2019 % 2019 var.
2019/1990
Industry 110.9 51.7 141.8 52.0 127.9 42.7 112.7 110.1 40.1 % +5 %
Transportation 6.7 3.1 8.5 3.1 10.7 3.6 10.9 10.4 3.8 % +54 %
Residential 52.7 24.6 61.1 22.4 69.5 23.2 66.2 67.1 24.4 % +27 %
Tertiary 40.0 18.6 56.6 20.7 85.6 28.6 92.1 81.2 29.6 % +103 %
Agriculture 4.2 2.0 4.9 1.8 5.6 1.9 5.5 5.9 2.2 % +40 %
Total 214.6 100 273.0 100 299.3 100 287.5 274.7 100 % +28 %
Source of data: International Energy Agency[10]

Transportation and distribution

Electricity pylons in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Emilia-Romagna
Electricity pylons in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Emilia-Romagna

The transmission of high voltage electricity in Italy is provided by Terna. The transmission network has 63,500 km of HV lines, 22 interconnection lines with foreign countries, 445 transformer stations.[61]

Evolution of the length of HV networks[12]
Length (km) 1960 1980 2000 2010 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
120-150 kV 23,395 36,268 44,046 45,758 46,575 48,895 48,832 48,801 48,766
220 kV 9,889 14,470 11,980 11,284 10,935 11,066 11,043 10,876 11,011
380 kV 4,813 9,782 10,713 10,996 11,015 11,211 11,202 11,308
Total length 33,284 55,551 65,808 67,755 68,506 70,976 71,086 70,879 71,085

History

A view of Milan in 1910. The chimney of the Santa Radegonda plant near the Duomo is clearly visible. The plant, built in 1883, was the first power plant in continental Europe.[62]
A view of Milan in 1910. The chimney of the Santa Radegonda plant near the Duomo is clearly visible. The plant, built in 1883, was the first power plant in continental Europe.[62]

Early years

The first electric power plants in Italy were carbon-fueled and were built during the end of the 19th century near city centers. Plants had to be close to the place of consumption due to the use of direct current and low voltage electricity, which limits greatly the possible transmission distance. The first power plant was built in 1883 in Milan, near Scala Theater, to power the illumination of the building.[62] The plant, called Santa Radegonda, was the first power plant in continental Europe.[62] Some of its components are on display in the Museo Nazionale Scienza e Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci in Milan.[63]

Following the development of high-voltage transmission on long distances, Italy began to utilize hydroelectric power. Several hydroelectric plants have been built on the Alps and the Apennines since the beginning of the 20th century.[64] The first geothermal power station in the world was built in Larderello in 1904.[65] Renewable sources met almost all of the country's electricity demand until the 1960s, when population growth caused an increase in electricity demand.

Nationalization

The electricity sector in Italy was private until it was nationalized in 1962 with the creation of a state-controlled entity named Enel, with a monopoly on production, transmission and local distribution of electric energy in the country. The new entity incorporated all the previous private companies operating in Italy since the end of the 19th century.[66]

The nationalization followed a general tendency in Europe after World War II: France and Great Britain nationalized their sectors in 1946 and 1957 respectively. This was seen as the only solution for an efficient and reliable electricity supply given the natural monopoly nature of this sector.[67]

Electric energy production and sources in Italy 1883–2012[68]
Absolute production
Electricity production in Italy from 1883 to 2015, distributed by source. (for final electric energy production)

The new entity, which absorbed more than 1,000 previously private companies,[69] faced a rapid growth of electricity demand during the subsequent decade.[70] This demand was largely met with fossil-fuel powered plants. This trend changed partly after the 1970s oil crisis, which induced Enel to rethink its energy strategy.[71] More investments were devoted to nuclear energy.[71] However, nuclear energy was abandoned in 1987 following a popular referendum.

Privatization

The belief of a more efficient sector with a public monopolistic company progressively reversed since the 1980s. Enel was made into a joint-stock company in 1992, however still fully owned by the Ministry of Economy.[72]

The liberation of the electricity sector from government control started in the late 1990s following European Union directives. Directive 96/92/CE of 1996 followed the tendency towards privatization. It was based on the adoption of different regulations for production and transmission: production and trading should be free and managed by private companies, while transmission and distribution, being natural monopolies, should be regulated by the state.[73]

This first directive suggested a progressive liberalization of the electricity market and the "unbundling", namely the clear separation of monopolistic activities from free-market activities in the companies involved in the electricity sector. This separation was effected by clearly separating budgets for different businesses.[73]

The European directive was followed by the Italian legislative decree 79/1999 ("Decreto Bersani") of 1999. The decree created a path towards a complete liberalization of the market through gradual steps. Not only the European directive was followed, but the transition to the free market was planned to be faster, with more than 40% of electricity planned to be traded on the free market by 2002 and with a corporate separation of activities.[74] Some of Enel's core activities were passed onto other companies.[74]

The network was transferred to a new company, Terna, responsible for the management of the system. Enel maintained a 50% stake in Terna's share capital until 15 April 2005 when, as a result of the sale of 13.86% of the share capital held through an accelerated bookbuilding procedure, reduced a 36.142% stake in Terna's share capital.[75][76] Control was definitively transferred by Enel as a result of the sale to Cassa Depositi e Prestiti on 15 September 2005 of 29.99% of Terna's share capital.[77]

In order to improve competition and to develop a free market for production, Enel was also forced to sell 15,000 MW of capacity to competitors before 2003. Following this, three new production companies were created: Endesa Italia, Edipower and Tirreno Power.[78] A new European directive, 2003/54/CE of 2003, and a subsequent Italian decree, requested free electricity trading for all commercial clients from July 2004 and, eventually, a complete opening of the market for private customers from July 2007.[79]

See also

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Notes

  1. ^ Net of pumping.
  2. ^ The European Union calculates the share of renewable energy sources in gross electrical consumption.
  3. ^ Net of pumping
  4. ^ This ranking places Italy ahead of only Luxembourg (3.6%), Hungary (3.1%), Slovakia (1.8%), the Czech Republic (1.8%), and Slovenia (1.3%) in terms of targets for wind power use as a percentage of total national electrical power use.