Country Reports


SUPPORTING POLICIES FOR OCEAN ENERGY
 

NATIONAL STRATEGY
Italy prioritized and incentivized the deployment of renewable energies by adopting a set of rules and regulations, which transposed the EU 2009/28/CE Directive into the Italian national legislation. As anticipated, the principles and the objectives of such regulatory framework are summarized in the National Action Plan for Renewable Energies of 2010, followed in 2013 by the National Energy Strategy, which has recently been updated - NES 2017. The former also reports the relevant Italian legislation already in force at the time, and classifies legislative acts as to their compliance to specific indications of the transposed Directive.

 

MARKET INCENTIVES
The latest indications and regulatory measures for the operative implementation of the National Strategy and Plan were issued in D.M. 23/06/2016. The Decree updated the support scheme previously regulated by DM 6 July 2012. The latter reviewed the preceding framework based on Feed-in Tariffs and Green Certificates, for renewable plants (other than Photovoltaic) in operation starting from 1 January 2013.

The most recent Decree 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 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).

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 alternatively receive 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 the Italian Energy Service Operator (Gestore Servizi Energetici - GSE), 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. The direct access to incentive was in force up to the end of 2017, but no plant has benefited from this incentive:

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From 2013 to 2016, the total annual capacity (MW) eligible for access to registries, and therefore for the granting of incentives, amounted to 6 MW. To this day, only one project, with capacity of 99 kW, located in Tuscany, retains the right to access incentives, but it has not been realized yet. The Decree does not provide for Dutch Auctions in the case of 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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The Directive 2014/89/EU on Marine Spatial Planning is also relevant for the specific Blue Energy Sector, establishes a framework for the implementation of maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management by Member States, aimed at promoting the sustainable growth of maritime economies, the sustainable development of marine areas and the sustainable use of marine resources. The Directive has recently been transposed into the Italian legislation.


PUBLIC FUNDING PROGRAMMES
Italy relies on a public research programme aimed at maintaining and improving the national energy system, including the marine energy sector. Such programme, named Ricerca di Sistema (System Research), purses as its main objective the promotion, organization and management, of basic and industrial research, and of the related technological development, finally ensuring maximum fruition of results to all citizens and end users.

The Committee of Research Experts for the Electricity Sector (Comitato di Esperti di Ricerca per il Settore Elettrico - CERSE) plays a strategic role in orienting R&D activities towards the innovation of the electrical system, through funding under the EU principles that regulate State aid for Research and Development and Innovation. (Communication from the Commission 2014/C 198/01). The CERSE is composed of five members, appointed by the Minister of Economic Development, and is responsible for regulating public funding for research projects of general interest in the electricity sector.

The Ministry of Education, University and Research (Ministero dell’Istruzione, dell’Università e della Ricerca – MIUR) has launched two calls for proposals to grant funding for strategic research activities, including the Blue Energy sector. In 2017, the following Directorial Decree was issued:

  • Decree N. 1735/13 July 2017, a call for proposals targeted at projects focused on industrial research and experimental development in the 12 areas of specialization individuated by the Italian National Research Programme (Programma Nazionale per la Ricerca – PNR) 2015-2020. The strategic areas include Blue Growth, and Blue Energy is explicitly mentioned as a relevant sector.

 


RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT
 

RESEARCH COORDINATION
In the framework of the agreement between ENEA and the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE), under the Ricerca di Sistema - Ocean Energy Programme, ENEA has been long carrying out an intense coordination activity aimed at bringing together the major Italian actors in the ocean energy sector. The interrelation and standardization of the scientific and technological expertise of the Italian actors of the Ocean Energy sector were recognized as priority issues, and an unprecedented synergic effort has been set up for the technological innovation of marine energy plants, on which the recent National Research Action Plan 2015-2020 was able to draw for the constitution of the Blue Growth Technology Cluster.

In May 2017, ENEA hosted the meeting “Italian contribution to the SET Plan on Ocean Energy”, in accordance with the guidelines of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan). The meeting aimed at bringing together the Italian R&D activities in the Blue Energy sector, in order to design a common strategy for the acceleration of their development and for the deployment of innovative technologies in the transition to a low-carbon energy system.

 

SUPPORT TECHNOLOGIES
The positive international outlook for ocean energy deployment has induced researchers involved in subsidiary fields and potentially connected industrial players to approach this promising sector. They actively contribute to designing the building blocks of innovative ocean energy converters, either by developing ad hoc technologies or by optimizing existing ones, as well as to enlarge the existing database of environmental and product design constraints.



ENVIRONMENTAL MODELLING
Prior to planning a renewable energy project it is essential to determine where sufficient resources exist, that guarantee adequate return on investment levels. For this reason, it is essential that reliable and updated maps, data and forecast systems are coupled to the engineering of devices, allowing optimal facility siting and a better understanding of site characteristics. As the size and complexity of the installations under study increase, the tools adopted to project or measure the resource become more and more critical and need to integrate a variety of modelling and monitoring techniques.

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Mean Energy flux over the Mediterranean for years 2001-2010

 

ENEA performs ocean wave modelling activities aiming to both quantify ocean energy availability in the Mediterranean Sea and provide the information necessary to optimize the operational set-up of wave energy converters. A wave forecast system was developed by ENEA in collaboration with Enel Green Power, and validated, and has been operatively running since June 2013 (https://giotto.casaccia.enea.it/waves/).

Forecasts cover the entire Mediterranean basin, while nested higher resolution projections are provided for ten sub-basins along the Italian coasts. A sample projection for the western coast of Sardinia is shown on the figure on the right. When coupled to real-time measurements, the forecasting system can further support the operation of wave energy generation devices, predict actual electric power generation and give the alert in case of severe sea conditions.

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DEVICE OPTIMIZATION
There are a number of Italian research institutions and enterprises involved in the development of devices for ocean energy conversion, design ad hoc numerical model for their most promising concepts:

  • The Politecnico di Torino routinely performs numerical experiments in order to explore a large number of possible configurations for the devices that are being developed, from the first stages of the design process. Both in-house and commercial software tools allow the simulation of array pattern arrangements of devices, assessing the performance and productivity of wave farms as a function of location, mutual hydrodynamic interaction and electric connection. Numerical tests also enable to estimate maintenance requirements and optimal operating conditions.
     
  • The University of Bologna and Politecnico di Milano conduct numerical experiments to optimize the scaling and performance of wave power devices to be deployed off the Italian coast and in the Mediterranean environment. Their tests have demonstrated that several Italian locations and a large part of the Mediterranean coastline could be successfully exploited for marine energy production if properly downscaled devices are employed. They also develop non-linear models of the combined hydro-mechanic and electromagnetic behaviour of WECs, as well as of the hydrodynamic interactions of point absorber arrays (wave farms) in real wave fields.
     
  • The Università Sapienza in Rome has recently developed an integrated open source tool, aiming at modelling the behaviour of floating wave energy converters under the ENEA-RSE-MISE agreement.
     
  • CNR-INSEAN carries out research activities for the development and validation of advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models to simulate the operation of wave and tidal energy devices. Results are validated against experimental.

 

EXPERIMENTAL INFRASTRUCTURES

CNR-INSEAN offers research infrastructures that include world-class towing tanks and flume tanks, thus providing a relevant testing environment for wave, tidal, and offshore wind energy systems. The facilities provided are among the largest worldwide and consist of: a 460x13.5x6.5 m calm water tank, a 240x9x3.5 m wave tank and a 12x3.6x2.3 m depressurised circulating water channel.

These infrastructures are used to test large scale models of concepts with TRL up to 5 and allow the simulation of real operating conditions at sea, accounting for the combined effects of winds, currents and waves. The facilities are equipped with advanced measuring systems in order to provide the complete characterization of device performance and response to simulated operating conditions, including extreme events. Testing activity is supported by in-house laboratories for the design, manufacturing and maintenance of test models and of the related equipment. A moving laboratory to support field site measurements is being developed to support on-site characterization and prototype operation activities.

The CNR facilities have been included in the leading internationally distributed infrastructure MARINERG-I (a Horizon 2020 Project covering years 2017-2019), designed to accelerate the research development and deployment of offshore renewable energy. CNR has been invited to represent Italy in the Consortium and to promote a network of national stakeholders with expertise, capabilities and interests in marine renewables technologies.

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CNR-INSEAN tank

TECHNOLOGY DEMONSTRATION
 

OPEN SEA TEST SITES

The Natural Ocean Engineering Laboratory (NOEL) of UNIRC provides a unique testing infrastructure in the marine environment, where field tests can take advantage of the dedicated sensors and data acquisition centre, and be carried out with the support and assistance of specialized personnel

(www.noel.unirc.it).

 
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The NOEL at Reggio Calabria


OPERATIONAL PROJECTS
In Italy there is an increasing interest in the exploitation of wave and tidal energy converters. In particular, wave energy converters (WECs) integrated into conventional breakwaters have gained more and more interest among the port managers, as they offer the opportunity of energy self-sufficiency for the infrastructures in conjunction with a limited increase in costs and with ease of maintenance.


WAVE CONVERTERS

REWEC3
The Università Mediterranea di Reggio Calabria has been developing the REsonant Wave Energy Converter (REWEC3 – at present TRL 7), which is a particular type of Oscillating Water Column (OWC) incorporated into a traditional vertical breakwater of monolithic reinforced concrete structure type. This activity is being carried out in cooperation with Wavenergy.it, an academic Spin-Off of the Mediterranea University. This device is composed of a chamber containing a water column in its lower part and an air pocket in its upper part. The air pocket is connected to the atmosphere via a small duct hosting a self-rectifying turbine. In addition, a REWEC3 also includes a small vertical U-shaped duct for connecting the water column to the open sea. The first full scale prototype is under construction in the port of Civitavecchia (Rome, Italy), as the Port Authority of Civitavecchia has recently decided to upgrade its infrastructure and adopted the REWEC3 technology for the realization of 17 new caisson breakwaters. Each REWEC3 caisson is 33.94 m long and includes 6-8 independent absorbing chambers. The total length of REWEC3 caissons is 578 m. A first Wells turbine of 20 kW, without any optimization, has been installed, while the total installed power will be 2.5 MW.

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Scheme of a REWEC3


OBREC (Overtopping Breakwater for Energy Conversion)
The Università degli studi della Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli” has developed a device denominated OBREC (Overtopping Breakwater for Energy Conversion), embedded into a breakwater and based on the wave overtopping process. The device consists of a rubble mound breakwater with a frontal reservoir designed to capture the wave overtopping a sloping ramp in order to convert wave energy into potential energy. Water stored in the reservoir produces energy by flowing through low head hydraulic turbines. A small scale (1:30) prototype of the OBREC was tested at Aalborg University (Denmark) during two experimental test campaigns in 2012 and 2014. A full scale, 6 m long prototype was installed in the port of Naples in 2015, along the San Vincenzo rubble mound breakwater, where sea depth is about 25 m and available wave power is estimated to be around 2.5 kW/m. The overall performance of the device is being monitored.

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Breakwater equipped with the OBREC prototype in the port of Naples


SWEC (Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter)
The Politecnico di Torino developed ISWEC (Inertial Sea Wave Energy Converter, TRL 7), a point absorber wave converter suitable for mild climate seas such as the Mediterranean. It is based on the gyroscopic technology already used in marine applications for roll stabilization, except that the direction of energy transfer is reversed, with the gyroscopic torque induced by the incoming waves being exploited by the electrical PTO. Research activities have started 10 years ago and led to the development of the technology industrialized by Wave for Energy, a spin-off of the Politecnico di Torino. In August 2016, the first full scale ISWEC prototype, with a nominal power of 100 kW, was moored 800 m from the coast of Pantelleria.
 

PEWEC (Pendulum Wave Energy Converter)
The Politecnico di Torino, in collaboration with ENEA, has also developed the point-absorber denominated PEWEC (Pendulum Wave Energy Converter, TRL 5). PEWEC is a passive system based on a pendulum positioned inside a hull, whose oscillation is converted into electrical energy via a Power Take-Off (PTO).

A 1:12 prototype has been tested in the towing tank managed at CNR-INSEAN in Rome. Among the converters developed by 40SouthEnergy, the H24-50 kW was the first machine to reach commercial stage. The H24-50 kW is a small device, with a guiding member which sits on the sea floor or on a small support structure (depending on water depth and on tidal range), and a moving member above it, which moves under the action of waves or tides. H24 was first deployed off the coast of Marina di Pisa, Italy, and is operated and managed by Enel Green Power.


 

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The PEWEC prototype at INSEAN
 

WAVESAX
RSE (Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico - Research on the Energy System) S.P.A. developed WAVESAX (TRL 5/6), an innovative wave converter within the OWC category.

This device has been conceived for its integration in coastal structures (e.g. harbours and ports). It consists of a vertical pipe in which water moves upward and downward, following the wave motion. Inside the pipe, a hydraulic bi-directional turbine is positioned. Laboratory test studies have been performed on a scale model (1:20) in the ocean wave basin of the HMRC - Hydraulic Marine Research Centre (Cork, Ireland).

A second 1:5 scale prototype has been tested at the ECN Hydrodynamic and Ocean Engineering Tank (Nantes, France), in order to study different rotor configurations under regular and irregular wave conditions, while the facilities provided by CNR-INSEAN permitted the assessment of device performance for different turbine configurations and control strategies.

 
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The WAVESAX 1:5 scale prototype

GEL system
Seapower s.c.r.l. (a consortium between private companies and the Department of Engineering of the University of Naples “Federico II”), in collaboration with Umbra Group, developed the GEL system (TRL 5), a wave energy converter designed to be installed near the coast or in shallow waters. The device consists of a floating body linked to a fixed frame that is left free to oscillate around a horizontal axis under the action of waves. The permanent magnet electric generator, integrated in the Power Take-Off (PTO) actuator/generator, allows the transformation of linear motion induced by waves into rotary motion of the generator rotor. A 1:5 scale and a full scale prototype have been tested in the wave tank located at the Department of Industrial Engineering (DII) of the University of Naples “Federico II”. It has reached TRL 5 and it is ready for testing in real sea conditions.


TIDAL TURBINES

KOBOLD turbine
The Aircaft Design & Aero flight Dynamics Group (ADAG) of the Università di Napoli “Federico II”, in cooperation with SEAPOWER Scrl, has long been designing systems for the extraction of energy from marine currents. They have developed and patented the KOBOLD turbine (TRL 7), a rotor mounted on a vertical shaft, which produces mechanical energy by exploiting marine currents.

A platform equipped with a Kobold turbine of the diameter of 6 m with three blades with a span of 5 m, built by the Ponte di Archimede Company, was installed in the Strait of Messina in the year 2000 and is still in operation. The nominal power output is 30 kW and the device is connected to the distribution grid.

 
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The Kobold installation

 

GEM device
ADAG and Seapower, in cooperation with Ing. Morrone, have also designed GEM, the Ocean’s Kite (TRL 7), an ocean current energy conversion system that consists of a submerged body with two horizontal axis hydro turbines. It is tethered to the seabed and free to self-orienting to the current. After the experimental phase in towing tank, a first full scale prototype has been deployed in Venice lagoon. The nominal power of the device is 100 kW with 5 knots of current speed; in the Venetian lagoon, where the maximum flow current speed is around 3 knots the power that can be produced is about 20 kW.

A full scale prototype of 300 kW will be installed in the Strait of Messina.

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The GEM device

 


RELEVANT NATIONAL EVENTS
 

Recently, the EU Interreg-MED Programme has launched the horizontal project InnoBlueGrowth - “Horizontal Communication & Capitalization project for Innovation in Blue Growth at Mediterranean level” - with the aim to implement concrete actions (i.e. a communication strategy, community building initiatives and capitalization events), to build cohesive stakeholders communities sharing common interests and issues and to enlarge the spectrum of potentially connected industries. The project is coordinated by the National Interuniversity Consortium for Marine Sciences (CoNISMa, Italy). The “Launch of Blue Growth Community in Med Area” took place in Rome, 6-7 April 2017.

Italy is actively participating in the modular InnoBlueGrowth projects PELAGOS and MAESTRALE:

  • PELAGOS project (https://pelagos.interreg-med.eu/) is specifically dedicated to ocean energy and offshore wind energy and aims to define a management and coordination system connecting the different components of the Quadruple Helix, schematizing the linkages and the potential conflicts between knowledge production and knowledge use in the field of Blue Energy. It will connect the different stages of the production process, from the R&D activities to their operative implementation, to the creation of new interfaces with potential customers and the public opinion. To this end, a permanent Cluster of national hubs is being established. The Italian hub Demonstration Event took place at ENEA premises in Rome on 29 September 2017, and was followed by a B2B Event in Monfalcone (GO), 29 November 2017, and by a Capacity Building Event on entrepreneurship and technology transfer in Rosolina (RO), 13 December 2017
     
  • MAESTRALE project (https://maestrale.interreg-med.eu/) has started to lay the foundations for a strategy for the deployment of maritime energy in the Mediterranean area. Based on a survey of existing and innovative technologies, barriers and potentials in participating countries, MAESTRALE aims to broaden the sharing of knowledge among scientists, policy makers, entrepreneurs and citizens and encourage effective measures and investments for Blue Growth. MAESTRALE’s first Transnational Meeting took place in Rome, 4 -6 April 2017. The Horizontal Project InnoBlueGrowth, in its turn, organized the transnational event “Innovation for the development of marine energies in the Mediterranean”, Naples, 27-28 November 2017, where the first results of MAESTRALE and PELAGOS were presented.