According to official data, Italy’s wind energy market broke its previous record number of installations again in 2009. In fact, the installations should deliver power amounting to 1,114 MW, compared to 1,003 in 2008. This means that at the end of 2009 the total effective operating capacity derived from wind in Italy was 4,850 MW, an annual increase of 30% (see graph).
As for electricity production, the estimated production from wind energy is about 6.7 TWh/year, which is equal to more than 2.1% of gross electricity consumption.
According to the analysis done by Luciano Pirazzi of Enea the number of wind turbines in operation stands at 4,237 units; 652 of them were installed only this year (see graph). As we can see from the graph, the average power per wind turbine out of the total number of machines installed increased from 521 kW in 2000 to 1,144 kW at the end of 2009. The average power of each wind turbine installed in 2009 alone amounts to 1,715 kW (it was 648 kW in 2000).
Pirazzi explained to Qualenergia.it that “the Italian market has proven once more to be lively, even in difficult times like these, reconfirming the technical and financial feasibility of the wind energy sector in Italy”. “All of this – according to the expert of Enea, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment – happened in spite of the uncertainties of authorization procedures and the inadequacy of the information received from the mass media and of the educational training provided from Public Administrations, especially at regional and local level, as their own lack of awareness about energy matters in general and of renewable and wind energy issues in particular is quite worrying”.
Among manufacturers, Vestas is strengthening its leadership position, with its machines providing about 2,170 MW of power in Italy, equal to 44.7% of total capacity. They are followed by Gamesa turbines (about 901 MW) with a share of 18.6% and Enercon (about 680.7 MW) with a share of 14% (see graph). In 2009, Nordex wind generators were widely spread across Italy as well, with 166 MW installed. There are still very few, especially medium-to-large, Italian wind turbine manufacturers; in fact, only Leitwind has started to work in Italian and foreign markets so far, and with very interesting prospects (one factory in India for the Asian market).
As regards wind energy producers, there are several important private companies like International Power, IVPC, FRI-EL, Enel Green Power, EDENS, E-ON, which have been followed by various types of companies over time, like Veronagest, Erg-Renew, Greentech, Fortore Energia, Tozzi Sud, Moncada and many more.
Let us now see how wind energy development affects social life, employment and economy, a still little-known issue. “Few people know that in Italy this sector involves about 20,000 employees, including highly-skilled personnel”, says Luciano Pirazzi. “In addition – he states – linked industries, which include wind turbine components and development, design and production of wind farm systems, sometimes also run at international level, obviously benefiting employment and the economy; even though this last item is difficult to quantify, the industry already reports a total annual turnover of over one billion euros”.
The distribution of wind energy technology is obviously still concentrated in Southern Italy and the Italian Islands (image). As in photovoltaics, Apulia comes first of all the Italian Regions with 1,158 MW of total power installed, followed by Sicily (1.116 MW), Campania (809 MW) and Sardinia (585 MW). It is important to note the considerable wind power installed in Calabria in 2009: 212 MW.
2009 statistics are in line with the 2020 target for this sector, as explained by Italian energy associations Anev, Aper and Ises Italia in one of their notices. These data strengthen 2008 figures as well, and in fact Italy remains the third country in Europe and the sixth in the world for this sector, “although the regulatory framework in this matter has not yet been completed (“Autorizzazione Unica” – an authorization for the construction and operation of energy plants-, Allocation of obligations among Regions, Guidelines and adaptation of energy facilities)”.
The Government is urgently required to intervene as they would “facilitate the harnessing of the national estimated potential wind power of over 16,000 MW through greater efficiency, functionality and transparency”.