SUPPORTING POLICIES FOR OCEAN ENERGY
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 been recently recognized by 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 groundbreaking 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.
The Ministerial Decree on renewable energy sources (DM 6 July 2012) reviews the support schemes (until the end of 2012 based on Feed-in Tariffs and Green Certificates) for grid connected renewable energy power plants (non PV). The Decree concerns plants put into operation since 1 January 2013 (with capacity ≥ 1 kW).
The 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 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).
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 > 1 MW can only receive the incentive (fixed tariff minus electricity hourly zonal price, plus premiums if foreseen). Power plants with a capacity ≤ 1 MW 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 30% 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.
*If the power plant is built by the Public Administration the maximum capacity eligible to direct access is doubled (120 kW).
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 indicated in the table below:
If the total installed capacity in a certain year is less than the capacity to be supported in that year according to the Decree, the residual capacity can obtain the incentives in the following year. In 2012 and in 2013, there were not requests to enrol to the register, while in 2014 a single initiative, with capacity of 99 kW, was admitted to the register.
The wave and tidal energy rebuilt power plants can only access directly to incentives and their capacity must not be higher than 60 kW. The Decree does not provide Dutch Auction for wave and tidal energy power plants.
In general, the tariffs for plants entering into operation from 2014 on will decrease by 2% (compared to the values provided by the Decree) in each of the subsequent years until 2015, except in case of failure to reach 80% of the yearly capacity quota provided for the register. In the case of wave and tidal energy power plants, the above mentioned curtailment will not apply because the total capacity provided by the Decree is still fully available.