Image: 5.35kWp of Yingli panels installed by Alta Quota Impianti, L’Aquila.
It’s no surprise that Italians love clean energy. Italy is known by a number of names, from the ‘Land of the Sun’ to ‘Green Country,’ but our country is not famous for vast carbon resources buried underground. To meet energy demands, many cities are looking confidently to the sky: sun, wind, and water. Rather than rushing headlong into the race for imported carbon fuels or nuclear resources, why not draw energy from the natural wealth that makes Italy the “Bel Paese”?
In Italy today, there are over 600,000 power plants – big and small – that utilize renewable sources for thermal and electric energy. There are 7,970 cities in Italy that have at least one renewable energy power plant, representing 98% of all cities in the country. About 2,400 of those cities produce electricity almost exclusively from renewable sources, and 27 of those cities are net-energy-exporters, producing more clean energy than their residents consume.
Legambiente provides a map of renewable energy sources in Italy through an annual report called ‘Comuni Rinnovabili’, which illustrates the development and deployment of green technologies in Italy. The project’s goal is to collect and analyze energy data to identify the most virtuous strategies for the large-scale deployment of clean energy technology, and to highlight the important contributions of these technologies securing Italy’s national energy balance. The report demonstrates the great strides Italy has already made and identifies opportunities to develop an even more effective energy mix.
The “greenest” city in Italy is perhaps Prato allo Stelvio (BZ), a small town at the foot of the Alps that generates energy from 18 different renewable energy power plants including photovoltaics, hydro, wind and biomass. These small, distributed systems meet the demands of 1,600 electrical loads and 580 thermal loads, and provide power for 250 telecommunications devices.
Green towns such as Prato allo Stelvio demonstrate what’s possible. We have already achieved results in Italy that some said were impossible only a few decades ago, which begs the question: what will we achieve in the next two decades?
Fabio Patti is the Managing Director of Yingli Solar in Italy.