State of the art of Biogas in Italy
Currently there are 1.555 operating plants in Italy with a total installed capacity of 1.169,6 MWel and an average plant capacity of 752 kW for each plant (Table 1).
Table 1. Number, installed capacity and average installed capacity of all biogas plants in Italy*
|REGION||Total biogas plants||Total installed capacity (MW)||Average installed capacity (MW)||Average installed capacity (kW)|
|Friuli Venezia Giulia||71||48,3||0,68||680|
On the base of these numbers Italy confirms its privileged rank in Europe and in the world, representing the second biogas market in Europe after only Germany and the third in the world after Germany and China.
The most widespread type of plants in Italy is still used for agricultural purposes: 80% of the biomass sent to anaerobic digestion plants comes from agriculture (Table 2).
Table 2. Biogas plants in Italy*
|Type of plants||Number of plants|
|Municipal solid waste||461|
1 Annual report 2014 of CIC – Consorzio Italiano Compostatori
In 2014 only 100 new biogas plants were built in the agricultural sector. This reduction could be linked to the changes made to the Italian incentive scheme in 2013 (Decree of 6 July 2012, followed by that of 23 June 2016), which had an adverse effect on the number of new biogas projects. The main changes were: the restriction of electric power installed annually, the introduction of a ranking system (Registers), the payment of a lower all-inclusive tariff based on the installed capacity of the plants and the feedstock used, the introduction of bonuses for the enhancement of the thermal energy and the recovery-reduction of the nitrogen content in the digestate.
The Decree of 5 December 2013 established the subsidy scheme for biomethane introducing three types of subsidy for biomethane produced and: 1) injected into the natural gas grid, 2) used in transport, 3) used in high efficiency cogeneration plants.
The production of biomethane in Europe is spreading progressively in recent years, with a total number of plants equal to 367 and an upgrading capacity of 310.053 Nm3/h (EBA Report 2015). In Italy such technology struggles to spread: indeed today there are only 5 operating plants throughout the territory (with a total upgrading capacity of 500 Nm3/h). The reason for the delay compared to other European countries like Germany and Sweden is mainly the lack of clarity of specific legislative references regarding grid injection techniques.
In order to overcome these limits, during 2015 all institutions involved in the management of the complex supply chain of biomethane have worked on the development of the necessary implementing rules. At the end of this path, in 2015, GSE issued guidelines for operators who require access to incentives and certificates of release for consumption (CIC), while also providing the ability to make the qualification of the plants already in the planning stage. In 2016 GSE issued a new version of guidelines, governing how to calculate and release incentives in the case of biomethane injected into the natural gas grid. With this measure, the last elements necessary for investment planning, and which should allow the effective implementation in Italy of the first facilities of biomethane production, have been defined.
* Data are taken from Chapter 1 of the deliverable D2.2 “State of the art and best practices collection” written by CIB – Consorzio Italiano Biogas e Gassificazione.