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Is the wind changing for offshore wind development in Italy?

Offshore wind
By SEC Newgate team
16 November 2023
Energy, Transport & Infrastructure

By Ludovico Grandi (SEC Newgate Italia)

Offshore wind farms are riding the crest of the wave in the debate surrounding the development of renewables in Italy, but the push for this type of technology does not seem to be followed as enthusiastically by the Meloni Government.

Large investments in Italy have to undergo a lengthy authorisation process. According to the EIA Observatory of ANIE (the association grouping companies operating in the electrical renewable energy sector), as of 30 June 2023, 1,372 procedures had been filed for the authorisation of renewable energy plants, corresponding to a capacity of 68,220 MW, but only 5.2 per cent were authorised.

For several months now, the government has indicated three measures aiming to create favourable conditions for investment in offshore wind: the Energy Decree Law, the Sea Plan and the Plan of Suitable Areas.

Regarding the former, in recent news the draft of the decree-law arrived at the Chamber of Deputies, where it will now be voted on. The draft of this decree envisages two strategic ports to construct/build/maintain wind farms, but only one port in the south of Italy, the area with the highest number of authorisation requests.

The 'Plan for the Sea' is developed around sixteen guidelines, covering maritime spaces, trade routes, ports, energy from the sea, the ecological transition of the sea industry, fishing and aquaculture, shipbuilding, the shipping industry, maritime labour, conservation of ecosystems and marine protected areas, the underwater dimension and geological resources of the seabed, the smaller islands system, tourism and sea sports, climate change, European and international cooperation and security.

What strongly emerges is the need to link these themes in a harmonious way, with a unitary and all-encompassing vision aimed at enhancing the "sea resource".

Still no news, however, regarding the most critical of the three measures: the Plan of Suitable Areas. This scheme has in fact been announced on several occasions by Environment Minister Pichetto Fratin, but still has to pass the Council of Ministers' scrutiny.

Speaking in Rimini at the beginning of November, the Minister reiterated that “on the large offshore wind farm […] a procedure to identify large areas beyond 12 miles, where there is a lot of wind, in agreement with other Mediterranean countries to establish the scope of so-called marine zones”.

Pichetto Fratin's statements, however, raised some concerns in the industry, with the Renewable Sources and Energy Efficiency Coordination (FREE) proposing five corrections to the decree, including the revision of suitable areas that which, as identified in the decree, would not be sufficient to guarantee the achievement of the NECP targets.