Country Reports


SUPPORTING POLICIES FOR OCEAN ENERGY


NATIONAL STRATEGY
According to the Italian National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP), the Ocean Energy total contribution (in terms of installed capacity) expected to meet the binding 2020 European Renewable Energy Sources (RES) targets will be of 3 MW in 2020. For this reason, the Italian increasing interest in the exploitation of wave and tidal technology to produce clean and renewable energy can be recognized both in Government initiatives (e.g. one of the highest incentive for such sources worldwide) and in the research and development activities carried out by public and private players. Mainly universities and companies specialized in research and innovation are involved in R&D in this field. Thanks to those efforts, Italy is indeed at the forefront of research, development and demonstration at a prototypal level. Such leadership has recently been recognized by the Chilean Government’s economic development organization CORFO (Corporación de Fomento de la Producción); Enel Green Power (EGP) from Italy and DCNS from France have been selected to set up a ground breaking global centre of marine energy R&D excellence in Chile, named Marine Energy Research and Innovation Centre (MERIC). MERIC’s applied research and development work will focus on key sources of marine renewable energy, such as tidal power and wave power.


REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
The Ministerial Decree on renewable energy sources (DM 23 June 2016) updated the support scheme previously regulated by DM 6 July 2012. This Decree has, in turn, reviewed the preceding framework based on Feed-in Tariffs and Green Certificates for renewable plants (other than PV) in operation starting from 1 January 2013 (with capacity ≥ 1 kW).

DM 23/6/2016 (in continuity with DM 6/7/2012) identifies four different ways of access to incentives: direct access, bid auctions (Dutch Auctions), registries for new power plants, for fully reconstructed power plants, for reactivated, empowered and hybrid power plants and registries for rebuilding intervention. The Decree defines the criteria to access to the registries and the Dutch Auctions and establishes specific limits for the annual capacity eligible to incentives. These limits are set up differently for each kind of renewable energy source and for all the different ways of access to incentives (registries or bid auctions).


MARKET INCENTIVES
In general, the Decree grants a fixed tariff plus, in some cases, a specific premium, to provide incentives to net electricity fed into the grid. The fixed tariff is different according to each source, technology and capacity range considered. Power plants with a capacity > 500 kW can only receive the incentive (fixed tariff minus electricity hourly zonal price, plus premiums if foreseen). Power plants with a capacity ≤ 500 kW can receive, instead of the incentive, a Feed-in Tariff composed by the fixed tariff plus, in some cases, a specific premium. In the Dutch Auctions the maximum requested value of the tariff cannot be higher than a 2% discount of the reference value and the minimum value cannot be lower than a 40% discount of the reference value.

The incentives last for the average conventional plant life of each typology of power plant. All the support schemes are managed by GSE (the Italian Energy System Operator, the body in charge of managing all the incentives to renewable energy). New, fully reconstructed, reactivated or empowered wave and tidal energy power plants can access directly to incentives if their capacity is not greater than 60 kW, otherwise they must apply for access to registries.
 

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*If the power plant is built by the Public Administration, the maximum capacity eligible to direct access is doubled (120 kW).


In 2016, a single initiative, with capacity of 49,5 kW, entered into operation and requested direct access to incentives. For wave and tidal energy power plants, the total annual capacity (MW) eligible to access to registries from 2013 to 2015, and so to obtain the incentives, is 6 MW. However, no plants were admitted for incentives in 2016 registries. It should be reminded that a 99 kW project was admitted in 2014 registries (under DM 6/7/2012), and it still keeps the right to be realized and to access incentives, although it has not been built yet. The Decree does not provide Dutch Auctions for wave and tidal energy power plants. For new wave and tidal energy power plants, DM 23/6/2016 confirmed the previous tariff, as follows:
 

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KEY R&D INSTITUTIONS AND RELEVANT R&D PROJECTS
Key players involved in research regarding the exploitation of marine energy to produce energy are universities and research centres. Among these, the University of Naples “Federico II” is distinguished for its GEM project started in 2003. In fact, the public/private consortium SEAPOWER Scrl (www.seapowerscrl.com), formed by a private company and the University of Naples, thanks to the collaboration between ADAG applied research group of the Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Naples Federico II and Eng. Nicola Giorgio Morrone, developed one of the most attractive projects of the last period in the field of renewable energy production using marine sources, GEM: The Ocean’s Kite (http://www.seapowerscrl.com/ocean-and-river-system/gem).

The SEAPOWER public/private consortium is waiting for the final permit to set up and manage a real test field laboratory in the Strait of Messina, open to Italian and foreign companies for testing their tidal current devices. The laboratory will provide assistance in deploying the devices, data handling and certification for the prototypes installed and tested in the area available to the consortium. The consortium is waiting for the final permit to build the laboratory.

Umbra Cuscinetti S.p.A., parent company of Umbra Group (www.umbragroup.com), is an Italian manufacturing company leader in the production of ballscrews, bearings, rotary generators and Electro-Mechanical Actuators (EMAs) for aeronautical, industrial and energy applications. Through a conscious technology transfer strategy and based on the EMAs architecture, Umbra has been developing an Electro-Mechanical Generator (EMG) for converting linear motion into electricity. Such technology is required by a wide range of ocean energy systems and is a step change innovation in the Power Take-Off (PTO) application. The EMG is based on the integration of a ballscrew, which converts linear motion into rotary motion, and a permanent magnet generator, which converts rotary motion into electricity. This compact and robust design results in a reliable and efficient product that is currently under development for different power ratings (from 2 kW to 250 kW) and working environments (EMG completely submerged in marine water, acting above the sea surface or acting in a protected environment). The EMG is entirely designed, manufactured and assembled inside the facilities of Umbra and relies on existing tools/processes and an established supply chain.

The development of the REWEC energy conversion technology is underway at University Mediterranea from Reggio Calabria. The first full scale prototype of a U-Oscillating Water Column (U-OWC), whose industrial name is REWEC3 (Resonant Wave Converter, type3), is currently under construction in the Port of Civitavecchia (Rome).

Among research centres, CNR (Italian National Research Council) and ENEA (National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development) are involved in several projects and collaborative programmes to support the development and demonstration of key technologies. Some of these projects are mentioned in the following sections.

In 2016, Umbra has been involved in a number of projects related to ocean energy:

  • International project “ReBaS – Recirculating BallScrew generator” - Wave Energy Scotland call for Innovative PTO solutions, Stage 2 (2015-2016): In this project, Umbra has designed and manufactured a 12 kW (rated power) EMG prototype for wave energy applications together with a point-pivoted Wave Energy Converter (WEC) buoy. The PTO prototype undertook both performance and extended dry tests at Umbra’s facilities, and wave tank tests at the University of Naples “Federico II”, where it was connected to the WEC. During these activities, the EMG measured average efficiency was in the range 70%-87% for all the tested conditions and resulted to be independent of the wave peak frequency and spectrum shape. Furthermore, the EMG survived load ratios up to 15 and performed more than 2 million cycles without showing signs of wear or damage. The project was developed in collaboration with SeaPower Scarl and Hebrides Marine Services Ltd., collecting knowledge Umbra acquired in the design of EMG and WECs through previous national and regional funded projects. Now, Umbra Group is preparing an application for transition to Stage 3, which foresees sea trials of a 90 kW WEC.

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  • Regional project “WE-BACK” - Legislative Decree 598/94 Umbria Region (2015-2017): In this project, Umbra is undertaking further R&D activity on the EMG. In particular, activities concerning the development of critical components, design methods for high loads and number of cycles, solutions for resistance in marine environment. A list of the projects that Politecnico di Torino (POLITO) has managed/currently manages along with a brief description
    regarding the objectives of each project is given below:
     
  • National project “GENERA” - H2020 – PON MISE National Operative Plan of the Italian Ministry for Economic Development (2017-2019): Within this project, Umbra Group will conduct feasibility studies concerning the application of the EMG for wave energy, tidal energy and energy recovery from vibration damping. Concerning wave energy, the installation of a 60 kW EMG prototype coupled with a point-pivoted buoy along the Italian coast of Campania is also planned. One of the main goals of the project is to develop appropriate hardware and software solutions for an advanced and efficient control of the EMG power generation. The project is in collaboration with SeaPower Scarl and Electro Motor Solutions Srl.

Besides these above-mentioned R&D projects, the Enel Green Power (EGP) group is supporting other relevant initiative, as following:

  • SEAWARD (H2020 LCE-15-2016) - SEtting up An optimal WEC Array configuration for Real environment Demonstration: the SEAWARD project aims to demonstrate the commercial attractiveness of Inertial Sea Energy Converters (ISWEC) through the design, manufacturing and demonstration of an array of 5 machines in the Canary Islands.
     
  • SUBLIME (CEF Transport 2016 - Connecting Europe Facilities) - SUstainable port moBiLity through the Implementation of WaveSax Marine Energy technology in European ports (SUBLIME): the Global project consists of the development of the “ecological MoS terminals” by implementing the innovative WaveSax technology for the production of energy from renewable sources (marine waves), within the harbour.

Other R&D European funded projects:

  • SINGULAR (FP7-ENERGY-2012) - Smart and Sustainable Insular Electricity Grids Under Large-Scale Renewable Integration - A large share of the recent renewable energy sources (RES) installed capacity has already taken place in insular electricity grids, since these regions are preferable due to their high RES potential. However, the increasing share of RES in the generation mix of insular power systems presents a big challenge in the efficient management of the insular distribution networks, mainly due to the limited predictability and the high variability of renewable generation, features that make RES plants non-dispatchable, in conjunction with the relevant small size of these networks.

    The Smart Grid Initiative, integrating advanced sensing technologies, intelligent control methods and bi-directional communications into the contemporary electricity grid, provides excellent opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and better integration of distributed generation, including RES, such as wind and photovoltaic systems, coexisting with centralized generation units within an active network. POLITO is studying the possible integration of wave energy production in various applications to grid connected renewable energy generation.
     
  • MaRINET (2011–2015; http://www.fp7-marinet.eu/) coordinated by Cork University College (Ireland), gathered 28 among leading European Institutions with recognised expertise and testing capabilities for ocean energy systems. A key action within MaRINET has been the Trans-national Access (TNA) mechanisms, with hundreds of programmes receiving grants for device testing in one of the 48 facilities made available by project partners. Italy contributed to this project with three partners (CNR-INSEAN, University of Firenze and University of Tuscia), that hosted several TNA programmes. Italy was also among the countries with the largest number of TNA programme applications during the project.


TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATION 


OPERATIONAL PROJECTS


GEM project
GEM, the Ocean’s kite, has been patented and the concept consists of a submerged floating body linked to the seabed by means of a tether. The main hull houses electrical equipment and auxiliary systems. Two turbines are installed outside the floating body and are exposed to the external currents. Due to a relatively safe and easy self-orienting behaviour, GEM, The Ocean’s Kite, is a good candidate to solve some problems involved with oscillating and reversing streams, typical of tidal current. An additional advantage of its configuration is related to the possibility of avoiding the use of expensive submarine foundations on the seabed, because these are replaced with a flexible cable connected to a single mooring point. Releasing the anchorage cable allows the system to pop-up for easy maintenance. A special diffuser (shroud) has been designed to double the output power keeping the blade length small.

After several numerical investigations, a series of experimental tests on two different scaled models has been carried out in the towing tank of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Naples. The models tested were completely instrumented so that a dynamic behaviour and the off-nominal working conditions were investigated. The real scale prototype system of 100 kW, with 5 knots of water current speed, has been built and has been deployed nearby Venice in a very slow speed current of about 3 knots downscaling the power to 20 kW. This prototype has been built by a consortium of Venetian companies thanks also to a financial contribution of Veneto Regional Authority. The real field tests have demonstrated the fully correspondence of the system behaviour with respect to what had already been measured on the 1:5 model during the test campaign in the naval towing tank. A full scale prototype of 200 kW at 2.5 m/s water current speed is being designed and will be deployed in the Strait of Messina to definitively assess all the performances of the system.
 

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THE KOBOLD TURBINE
The “Kobold Turbine” has been developed since 1998 by ADAG Group of the Department of Industrial Engineering, University of Naples “Federico II”, in collaboration with “Ponte di Archimede international Spa”, a company that works in the field of research and development into alternative and renewable energy sources, specialising in the environmental aspects of this work. The Kobold consists of a submerged vertical-axis turbine for exploitation of marine currents, installed in the Strait of Messina, 150 metres off the coast of Ganzirri since 2002. The realization of the Enermar prototype has been financed by Ponte di Archimede Company, together with a 50% fund paid by the Sicilian Region Administration (Regione Siciliana), in the framework of European Union Structural Funds. This project has been disseminated among the developing countries in which the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) operates and the first three countries that expressed interest were the People’s Republic of China, the Philippines, and Indonesia.

A joint-venture was created, under the auspices of UNIDO, between “Ponte di Archimede” and the Indonesian Walinusa Energy Corporation.

A prototype is being built and will placed on the Lomboc Island (the island immediately at east of Bali), where it could feed energy to a small village. The Indonesian plant will have blades length 7 m (chord 0,4 m), and diameter 5 m (intercepted area 35 m2). The power could be about 120-150 kW. The Ponte di Archimede company has now transferred its assets to the Horcynus Orca Foundation with the aim to leverage on the experiences gained with Kobold and the local workforce in the area to create a centre of excellence in the marine energy space.


40SOUTH PROJECT
Enel Green Power (EGP) has bought the H24 wave energy device from the Italian company 40South Energy. H24 represents the first EGP’s wave energy harvesting device as the company lays the groundwork for the development of a new technological line with ‘huge potential’. The 50 kW H24 machine was deployed as part of Marina di Pisa project off Tuscany, Italy. It consists of a guiding part located on the sea floor, or on a support structure, and of a moving part above it, which moves according to waves. H24 device can behave as both a tidal and wave energy generating unit, but for this particular project it will harness the energy of the waves to produce electricity.


ISWEC PROJECT
Sea waves are one of the most interesting and well distributed renewable energy sources in the world. At the current state of the art, all the existing sea wave energy conversion systems are designed to operate offshore, mainly in the oceans where the waves’ height is definitely high. In the Mediterranean Sea, waves are generally low, except under particular meteorological conditions. Thus, it is necessary to develop devices that can exploit other properties of the waves instead of their height, like wave slopes. The mechanical conversion system, called ISWEC, that will be used for the development of the project has been analysed by Politecnico di Torino and results show that the system possesses good potential for energy conversion. ISWEC device is composed mainly of a floating body with a slack mooring to the
seabed. The waves tilt the buoy with a rocking motion that is transmitted to the gyroscopic system inside the buoy. The gyroscopic system is composed of a spinning flywheel carried on a platform.

Trials at various levels have been carried out: in the first phase, a set of “dry tests” has been done on a controlled position mobile platform; in the second phase, a series of tests have been performed in the INSEAN wave tank, with suitably generated and controlled waves. Finally, the system has been placed and tested on Pantelleria Island for the real sea tests. Further tests will be carried out in order to develop and tune optimized control algorithms. In August 2015, the first ISWEC 1:1 scale device has been moored 800 m from the coast of Pantelleria Island in a water depth of 35 m.


REWEC PROJECT
Among the wave energy converters, the Oscillating Water Column (OWC) system is the most widespread: such system consists of an air chamber with a seawater inlet and an air discharger. If seawater moves as a result of the vertical motion of external waves, then the seawater within the OWC moves as well. This movement within the system generates air pressure, which produces power to turn the turbine in the air discharge port. In this light, EGP is evaluating a particular onshore OWC system to test together with a Reggio Calabria University Spin-off, Wavenergy in Central Italy; the system is called REWEC (Resonant Wave Energy Converter), already built in Civitavecchia Port.



PLANNED DEPLOYMENTS
Umbra aims to deploy two temporary installations of a point-pivoted WEC buoy within two R&D projects: in 2017, the components will be prepared and 2018 will see the deployment in the Mediterranean sea of a 60 kW unit and of a 90 kW device on Orkney Islands. In early 2016, Umbra has started collaboration with the French start-up EEL Energy (http://www.eel-energy.fr/en). This company has been developing an original tidal energy device that consists in a flexible membrane which, actuated by tidal currents, oscillates longitudinally with respect to the current direction. The oscillations are damped by several EMGs placed on the membrane backbone.

A small scale device prototype, featuring six 2 kW EMGs, has already undertaken two laboratory test campaigns at IFREMER (http://wwz.ifremer.fr/institut_eng/) that have shown very promising results; further test campaigns are scheduled for 2017. Umbra and EEL Energy are now preparing a second prototype version that will undergo sea trials in 2017- 2018. A first test in real environment is planned for October at SEENEOH (http://seeneoh.com/), in Bordeaux. The final goal is to deploy a 1 MW prototype by 2019-2020, thanks to the support of 3.7 million received from the French Programme d’Investissement d’Avenir (PIA - Future Investment Programme) and future European Union (EU) funding.

After the deployment of the first ISWEC device, W4E is planning to install a second Gyro, doubling the amount of energy from the sea.
 

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OTHER RELEVANT NATIONAL ACTIVITIES

FP7-ENERGY-2012: SINGULAR: Smart and Sustainable Insular Electricity Grids Under Large-Scale Renewable Integration.

A large share of the recent renewable energy sources (RES) installed capacity has already taken place in insular electricity grids, since these regions are preferable due to their high RES potential. However, the increasing share of RES in the generation mix of insular power systems presents a big challenge in the efficient management of the insular distribution networks, mainly due to the limited predictability and the high variability of renewable generation, features that make RES plants non-dispatchable, in conjunction with the relevant small size of these networks. The Smart Grid Initiative, integrating advanced sensing technologies, intelligent control methods and bi-directional communications into the contemporary electricity grid, provides excellent opportunities for energy efficiency improvements and better integration of distributed generation, including RES, such as wind and photovoltaic systems, coexisting with centralized generation units within an active network.

POLITO is studying the possible integration of wave energy production in various applications to grid connected renewable energy generation.