Italy Renewables Problem Continues; Wind Energy Auction Highly Undersubscribed

Highlights :

  • In the fresh round of auctions of the renewables energy, including the offshore wind energy, only one third of the projects were auctioned.
  • Industry blames the cumbersome bureaucratic procedures that causes delays unto five years for new projects the be launched.
Italy Renewables Problem Continues; Wind Energy Auction Highly Undersubscribed CIP to develop projects in India

The conundrum of Italy’s renewable sector continues unabatedly as it’s evident from the results of its latest renewables auction published. The Italian government had about 3,300 MW of renewable energy on offer. This also included the non-awarded capacity from the previous auction which also witnessed under-subscription. The travesty continued this time too and the government was able to award a mere 975 MW of utility scale projects. Out of the total 392 MW were onshore wind energy.

The key reason for the failure is that the permitting system of the government disallows proper auction of the projects. Due to the delays caused by the government in permitting the new projects, a massive backlog of non-awarded renewables capacity is piling up in Italy.

This is despite the fact that Italy’s National Energy and Climate Plan promises to create 19.3 GW of wind energy by 2030; although most of which is onshore. The ambitious target requires Italy to build about 1 GW new wind farms each year till 2030. If one looks at the new EU renewables target – which is 40% of energy by 2030 – then Italy will have to raise the bar even higher.

WindEurope CEO, Giles Dickson, had immediately lambasted the lethargic permitting system of the bad auction, “Italy is Europe’s prime example for how bad permitting leads to low renewables build-out. Neither the EU’s renewables target for 2030 nor Italy’s national targets for wind energy count for anything if there aren’t enough permitted projects that can bid in to the auctions. The latest undersubscribed auction shows once again that Italy urgently needs to fix its permitting arrangements. No other European country has more problems permitting new wind energy farms than Italy.”

“At its current rate Italy is not building enough new wind farms to meet its European energy and climate commitments. After another undersubscribed auction the backlog of non-awarded wind energy capacity just keeps piling up”, adds Dickson.

As per the industry, the permitting situation in Italy makes it extremely difficult to get the approval of the public authorities to build new renewables. The bureaucratic procedures have kept a large number of renewables projects entangled. The industry opines that the authorities take about five years on an average to give permission for an onshore wind farm; all thanks to the structural bottlenecks. This is despite the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive requiring member states to grant permits for greenfield wind energy projects in less than two years and for the repowering projects this should take no longer than one year.

Other EU member states are also struggling to meet the deadlines. This has forced the European Commission to come up with a ‘permitting guidance’ this summer. Important structural reforms to the permitting procedures required in almost every country include: more staff in the permitting authorities, a clarification of responsibilities between different authorities, more digital permitting procedures and an overall improvement in spatial planning.

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