Italy’s Terna outlines US$21bn grid investment plan to support renewables integration

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Investments will help to integrate energy from projects in the south of Italy with consumption centres in the north. Image: European Energy.

Italy’s transmission system operator Terna will invest €18.1 billion (US$21.4 billion) in the next ten years to strengthen the country’s grid and support the integration of new clean energy projects.

To reach Italy’s energy transition objectives, which include a target of 51GW of installed solar PV by 2030, the construction of infrastructure at a level that hasn’t been seen in the country for decades will be required, the company said.

Investments will aim to integrate energy produced by solar and wind projects in the south with consumption centres in the north as well as enhance connections between the mainland and islands.

Terna, which will also look to strengthen interconnection with neighbouring countries, said its plan will make it possible to reduce carbon emissions by 5.6 million tonnes per year, almost double the figure of its previous plan.

“Thanks to the commitment of all our people, we will be able to develop an electricity system that is increasingly efficient, sustainable and ‘green’,” said CEO Stefano Donnarumma.

Among the infrastructure projects include the €3.7 billion Tyrrhenian Link, a 500kV high voltage direct current link that will connect Sardinia to Sicily and the latter to Italy’s mainland. As well as enabling the development of renewables, it will contribute to the phase-out of coal-fired power plants in Sardinia and allow for the retirement of thermoelectric plants in Sicily.

Additionally, the 380kV Bolano-Paradiso 2 connection between Sicily and Calabria will allow the exchange of electricity between the island and mainland to be increased to a total of 2GW, benefiting the development of clean energy developments planned for the south of the country.

As it aims to support Italy’s role in becoming a Mediterranean electricity hub, Terna is planning a 1GW connection line between the country and Switzerland costing more than €1.2 billion as well as a 200km undersea cable with Greece that is expected to double the current exchange capacity between the two countries and encourage greater integration of renewables.

With Italy needing to add more than 7GW of clean energy capacity per year to reach its targets under the European Green Deal, a coalition of trade associations including SolarPower Europe earlier this week called on the Italian government to simplify permitting rules to speed up solar deployment.

Other recent developments in the country’s PV sector have seen utility A2A partner with investment house Ardian to establish a renewables platform, while oil company Eni has created a joint venture with state lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti that will aim to deploy 1GW of clean energy by 2025.

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