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Energy efficiency in Italy - state of the art

By Maria Deledda

Energy efficiency has been on the radar throughout Europe in recent years and no more so than Italy, which was the first country in Europe to draw up regulations about the energy performance of buildings in 1973. Current improvements in energy efficiency in Italy have been driven by new technologies and a diversified incentive policy, which includes both mandatory measures provided to implement the European Directives and additional measures approved at national level.

These measures have proved especially effective for manufacturing sites, where energy efficiency can be realized simultaneously in buildings and production processes, and where energy savings can have a significant impact on competitiveness.

The most successful incentive has proven to be the “white certificates” scheme. Under this scheme, certain entities (mainly EsCos - energy saving companies) which implement energy efficient schemes into buildings can obtain the so-called white certificates from the State. These are then sold on a regulated market to companies which need to attain annual energy saving targets (such as suppliers of electricity/ gas with more than 50,000 customers).

This scheme has allowed significant returns on investments in past years, although it recently slowed down due to stricter and more complex rules.

However, other sectors also benefit from energy efficiency incentives, such as the residential sector (where energy efficiency works are supported by tax deductions on the cost of the works) and the public sector, thanks to the continuation of the Programme for the Energy-related Renovation of Buildings of the Central Public Administration.

Building regulations also incentivize energy efficiency. If certain targets are met in reducing energy consumption, a “volume bonus” is granted. This allows an increase in buildable volumes and exempts certain rules on minimum distances and maximum height of buildings. Such incentives are provided both at a national and municipal level.

Finally, another regulatory measure which has pushed investment has been the “industry 4.0” scheme, which was launched in 2017. The objective of the scheme is to boost investment in new technology, research, and development by providing various incentives including significant tax deductions for investment in innovation (which also includes investments on implementation of energy efficiency and Internet of Things).

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