Italy to import renewable energy to hit 2020 target

MILAN Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:58pm EDT

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy would need to boost imports of renewable energy to meet a 17 percent target in its total energy use set by the European Union for 2020, Italian energy market operator GME said on Tuesday.

Italy will have to import 4 million tons of oil equivalent (toe) of green energy, including 2.9 million toe of befouls imported or produced in Italy from imported materials, GME said in a newsletter on Tuesday, citing Italy's plan sent to Brussels in February.

The document, which defines how Italy plans to reach its 2020 renewables target, said green electricity imports would have to amount to 1.1 million toe, which is equivalent to 13.7 billion kilowatt hours of electricity output.

"The information which we sent to Brussels ... points out at a difficulty to reach the 17 percent target by using only national output from renewable sources," Luciano Barra, a senior energy department official at Italy's Economic Development Ministry, told the GME newsletter.

Italy should boost energy efficiency measures, he said.

Renewables account for 7 percent of total energy use in Italy. Energy sector operators have urged the government to introduce new incentives to increase green energy output and usage and bring Italy closer to the 2020 target.

Italy would need to invest in building power interconnections with Albania, Montenegro, Switzerland and Tunisia to boost renewable power imports, Barra said.

Green energy imports are expected to arrive through new interconnections in 2014 and increase by 2018 to help Italy cover 25 percent of its power demand from renewable sources under the EU target, Barra said.

About 50 percent of renewable power will be imported to Italy through new links to be built by national power grid operator Terna with Montenegro and Tunisia and the rest by new merchant lines, Barra said.

Terna is on track to build a 1,000 megawatt interconnection with Montenegro and a 1,000 MW link with Tunisia in time for 2020, Luigi de Francisci, director of Terna's regulatory affairs department, told the newsletter.

(Reporting by Svetlana Kovalyova; Editing by Amanda Cooper)