Survey of Energy Resources 2007
Geothermal Country Notes
Italy is one of the world's leading countries in terms of geothermal resources. The high-temperature steam-dominated reservoirs lie in a belt running through the western part of the country from Tuscany to Campania (near Naples). Commercial power generation from geothermal resources began in Italy in 1913 with a 250 kW unit. Subsequently the main emphasis has been on the production of power rather than on direct use of the heat.
Following the limited development of resources during the first half of the 20th century, it was the second half of that century that saw rapid growth. By end-2004, total Italian installed geothermal capacity stood at 790.5 MWe, comprising operational units in the areas of Larderello, Travale-Radicondoli and Mount Amiata. The Italian WEC Member Committee reports that capacity at end-2005 was 810 MWe.
Geothermal plants are eligible for various kinds of government support, including national mandatory quotas and tradable green certificates, renewable energy certificates, guarantees of origin and dispatching priority.
Power generation potential is almost fully tapped, so major efforts are being made in deep drilling and in keeping output at 5 500-6 000 GWh/yr through re-injection and well stimulation.
In 2004 an exploration study began in the areas of Larderello-Radicondoli-Montieri. This includes the drilling of eleven wells to depths of 3 000-
4 000 m. However, opposition from various local communities has hindered progress. Nevertheless it is foreseen that another 100 MWe of capacity could be installed by 2010.
In addition to Italy's geothermally-powered electricity generation, the country also utilises its resources for direct purposes. Of the 600 MWt of installed capacity at end-2004, 58 MWt are used for industrial space heating, 74 MWt for district heating, 94 MWt for greenhouse heating, 92 MWt for fish farms, 10 MWt for industrial process heat, 159 MWt for bathing and swimming and 120 MWt for ground-source heat pumps.
It was estimated that in 2005 some 6 000 heat pumps were in operation, with an installation rate of some 500 per annum. In the north of the country the heat pump market is destined to grow. A plan was announced in 2005 for 5 x 50 MWt district heating schemes to be installed in Milan, each serving 30 000 inhabitants.