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Italy plans big investments in renewable energy

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italy_mainIndustrial Info Resources is reporting that Italy’s Observatory of Renewable Energy will invest nearly $60 billion between 2009 and 2020 in the country’s renewable energy sector.

Italy has set a target for the direct use of renewable fuels such as biofuels, wind and solar at 17 percent by 2020. That compares to only 5.2 percent in 2005.

It has a long way to go because it has the highest dependence on energy imports among the G8 group of nations: About 86 percent of its energy needs are met through imports.

The country traditionally has relied on hydroelectric power from dams located in the Alps, but in recent years the power generated from these sources has been equaled or surpassed by power imports from other countries. Natural gas supplies in Italy have declined, last year contributing 12 percent of the country’s total power demand, with its oil fields making up 7 percent of total demand.

Italy has the potential for several promising sources of renewable energy, notably geothermal–in which Italy is already a leader within Europe–hydroelectric, wind, solar and biomass, IIR says.

The Observatory says that wind will be the biggest winner in terms of investments, with an estimated 43 percent of investments being directed to windfarms. The Italian oil companies association, Unione Petrolifera, forecasts that wind farms could be capable of generating up to 20.5 terawatt-hours of power by 2020. Unione Petrolifera also forecasts that geothermal power, generated using steam produced from hot rocks located several kilometers underground, will reach around 7.5 TWh by 2020.

Last year, biomass-fed plants supplied almost 4 TWh of electricity. This sector is expected to receive 23 percent of the total forecast investment of $58 billion, which could supplying up to 11 TWh of power by 2020. Of the remaining renewable sources of energy, the Observatory estimates that photovoltaic and thermodynamic energy supplies will receive around 17 percent of the total investment, while hydroelectricity schemes will get 12 percent of the total investment, according to the IIR report.

Plans also are underway to add to Italy’s solar power generation. Enel SpA, based in Rome, plans to have a new solar thermal plant with a capacity of 5 MW in operation by the end of the year.

In January, Netherlands-based Econcern NV announced plans to build a 42-MW solar power plant in Puglia, located in southern Italy. The project, named Project Trullo, is expected to add 15 percent to Italy’s currently installed solar power generation capacity of 280 MW. Econcern anticipates that Italy’s installed capacity for solar power generation will grow to as much as 5,000 MW by 2020.

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Written by William DiBenedetto

12 June, 2009 at 12:22 pm

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