In November the Italian Government presented the National Energy Strategy (SEN) 2017, a ten-year plan outlining the vision for the country’s energy transition and setting out ambitious objectives for energy efficiency, energy security, sustainability and competitiveness. Fuel cell micro-cogeneration fits well in the Government’s new strategy.
Micro-cogeneration technologies in general, and Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration in particular, can greatly contribute to the Government’s efforts to achieve carbon reduction, enhance energy efficiency, and improve competitiveness. This technology can be considered as a “transition-enabler”, thanks to the central role attributed to natural gas in the SEN.
Industry awareness is continually growing: the technology has attracted the attention of multi-utilities, gas infrastructure companies, and numerous installers. Regional initiatives, such as Crisalide, or international projects such as ene.field have demonstrated technological as well as market readiness. More than 60 units are already installed in Italy, while around 80 have been sold and will be installed within the next two-three months.
In spite of this great potential, there are a number of significant barriers preventing mass roll-out of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration in Italy. First, the regulatory environment does not yet provide the right level of incentives. With some regional exceptions, the category is not included within incentive schemes for energy efficiency. Moreover, in apartment buildings, it is not possible to install a Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration unit at the service of all tenants, as only common areas of a multi-occupant building (e.g. elevators) can currently be supplied.
Second, the procedures to obtain the “Highly Efficient Cogeneration” (CAR) certificate, required to gain access to incentive schemes, are cumbersome and expensive.
Finally, there is low awareness about the potential of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration within both category associations and among policy-makers.
PACE partners therefore would like to draw attention to a set of key initiatives that could greatly contribute to the deployment of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration in Italy, thereby leading to better management of energy resources, more security of supply, and a better environment for all:
- Include high-efficiency Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration in the 65% tax deduction scheme (EcoBonus), already applicable to other technologies;
- Implement an “auto-declaration” for manufacturers to obtain the “Highly efficient Cogeneration” certificate (similar to the BAFA list in Germany).
- Widen the range of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration to include units from 1 kW to 20 kW electrical output for “officina elettrica” authorisation, as was done in the past for solar panels.
- Allow the distribution of electricity to tenants within apartment buildings.