Geothermal energy has the potential to contribute to Italy’s geothermal transition goals, but legislative support is needed, which is why this press release from the Italian Geothermal Union and the Italian District Heating Association
The Italian Geothermal Union (UGI) and the Italian District Heating Association (AIRU), with the support of the European Geothermal Energy Council (EGEC), issued a joint press release (entitled “The extraordinary potential of geothermal energy for the energy transition”) indicating the challenges of the development of geothermal energy in Italy and calling for legislative action to support the sector. They also propose the formation of a technical table to assess the contribution of geothermal energy to the achievement of the country’s energy transition objectives.
Italy offers excellent opportunities to use geothermal energy for electricity production. National and international operators have already expressed their interest in developing geothermal prospects, particularly in regions close to the Tyrrhenian Sea. There are also areas where geothermal energy can provide district heating for building complexes, cities and industries.
The joint statement identifies three major challenges for geothermal development in Italy:
- High initial costs for exploration, drilling and potential assessment
- Complex procedures and excessively long delays (approximately 4 to 8 years) to obtain permits and concessions
- Low investment in research and innovation and lack of support measures for the sector and its job creation potential
Currently, a dozen projects are awaiting authorization or in the process of authorisation. These projects have the potential to produce electricity at a capacity of 700 GWh/year, which is already a tenth of the 2030 renewable energy target for Italy.
With these obstacles in mind, the three organizations making the joint statement call for concrete legislative actions, including:
- The creation of a single national government authority that will take care of the governance and coordination of the sector; definition of the guidelines and the strategic development plan; Project evaluation; and issuance of permits and concessions
- Rationalization and standardization of procedures in accordance with the provisions of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR)
- Support for the high-level geothermal industrial chain that exports Italian technology all over the world
- Provision of incentives that will help make the sector self-sufficient, similar to what exists in other countries
- Investment and incentives for geothermal projects intended for the production of electricity and for closed-loop systems according to the characteristics of the resource
- Investment in district heating projects and infrastructure
- Funding of research centers
- Financing of strategic projects aimed at extracting lithium and rare metals from geothermal fluids
- Funding of studies on the geothermal potential of supercritical fluids
- The inclusion of geothermal heat pump technologies in efforts to meet building energy efficiency goals