National Energy Grid
Full Size Map National Electricity Transmission Grid of Italy(27 kb)
Italy has electric generation capacity of 69 million kilowatts. In 2001, the country generated 203.4 billion kilowatt hours (bkwh) and consumed 289.1 bkwh. Generation is mostly from thermal sources (78%) - oil, gas, and coal. The mix of thermal power is shifting away from oil and toward natural gas, such that natural gas should be the dominant fuel source for electricity generation by the end of the decade. Non-hydro renewable electricity generation (mostly solar and geothermal) almost doubled in the 1990s, and over 2% of Italian electricity is now produced from renewable sources.
Italy's extensive electricity network is linked to its neighbors. Electricity imports come mostly from France, Switzerland and a small percentage from Slovenia. In the summer of 2002, Italy and Greece completed the construction of a new 163-kilometer (102-mile), 400-kilovolt underwater cable to link Italy and Greece. The cable will allow Greece to transfer electricity to the EU, as well as serve as a back-up source for Italy.
Italy is richly endowed with renewable energy sources that could be captured and utilized. Due to the high levels of sunshine that reach Italy's land surface, the Italian government has made solar energy technologies its top priority. According to a European Union study, Italy funds one quarter of all photovoltaic research occurring in the EU. Along with these efforts, the Italian government has implemented the " 10,000 Photovoltaic Roofs" program, hoping to install these facilities by 2003.
Italy also is studying the potential of biomass and wind energy. The focus of the National Program on Renewable Energy from Biomass is to examine genetic varieties of plants that will maximize the energy obtained from combustion. Funding for research in harvesting wind energy is small compared with programs examining solar and biomass. Italy's major wind energy programs focus on the feasibility of constructing wind farms in Apulia and Sicily, both in the South where wind resources are greatest.
Italy also is one of the largest producers of geothermal energy in the world, behind the United States, the Philippines, Mexico and Japan. In 1997, Italy had an installed geothermal capacity of 550 MW.
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