A large number of energy crop initiatives have been developed in Italy, like research programmes, demonstration projects and commercial applications, covering the complete energy crop chain of cultivation, harvesting, conversion and utilization.
This contribution gives an overview of energy crop cultivation in Italy and gives a summary of policy issues, recent developments, constraints, selected projects, research, demonstration and commercial activities regarding energy crops.
Italy is characterised by 80% energy imports, one of the highest percentages among industrialised countries.
This vulnerability in the energy sector has led to a policy directed at energy saving, development of domestic energy sources, diversification of energy sources and maintenance of international competitiveness of the energy sector. During the past years, attention for biomass issues has increased in Italy.
The European policy objective of 12% renewable energy sources in 2010, approval of the CO2 reduction guidelines and national awareness of the importance of renewables for energy independence have resulted in new laws and proposals facilitating energy crop production.
Recently, the Italian government has set new ambitious goals for the generation of energy from biomass at 8-10 Mtoe/year in 2012, and to achieve a total installed capacity of 4000 MWe of biomass fuelled plants within the National Programme for Renewable Energy from Biomass (V.Bartolelli, R.Di Benedetto, 1999).
This will significantly contribute to national energy independency and lead to substantial reduction in the reduction of greenhouse gases. A large number of energy crop initiatives have been developed, like research programmes, demonstration projects and commercial applications, covering the complete energy crop chain of cultivation, harvesting, conversion and utilization.