The installation of small wind turbines is growing rapidly in Italy since the introduction of feed-in tariffs, according to a report by the Department of Engineering at Milan’s Polytechnical University (Politecnico di Milano Dipartimento di Ingegneria Gestionale).

Since the introduction of feed-in tariffs for small wind turbines in 2008, installations have grown exponentially says the University’s Wind Energy Report.

In absolute terms, installed capacity of small wind turbines in Italy, like that in Great Britain, remain a fraction of that of commercial-scale turbines. By the end of 2011 cumulative capacity of small wind in Italy was 13 MW, or 2% of the 6,700 MW of wind generating capacity in the country.

Yet installed capacity of small wind doubled from 2008 to 2009 and again in 2010 and 2011. Up to 10 MW may be installed in 2012, says the report.

More than 90% of the turbines are less 80 kW in size. The majority of the capacity, 70%, is installed in the southern provinces, 25% in the central region, and only 5% in the mountainous north.

In 2011, Italy installed more than twice as much small wind generating capacity as the US relative to its population. The same will likely be the case in 2012.

Feed-in tariffs have proven effective for rapidly developing new small wind generating capacity. In North America, only Nova Scotia and Vermont have effective feed-in tariffs for small wind. Most of the US uses a mix of state and federal subsidies in combination with net-metering.

Italian feed-in tariffs for small wind are quite lucrative, effectively double that of total payments for commercial wind under Italy’s Green Certificate (Certificati Verdi) system. Yet, Italian small wind tariffs are comparable to those in Britain and other countries.

New tariffs go into effect at the end of the year. Italy will differentiate small wind into two size tranches: <20 kW, and 20 kW to 200 kW. While the tariffs have been cut modestly, the contract term has been extended from 15 years to 20 years.

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Extending the term of the contract offers a substantial financial benefit, assuming that the turbines can stay in operation that long. There are fleets of wind turbines in California more than 25 years old. However, the turbines in California are all professionally maintained.

Small wind in Italy is now nearly 50% more expensive than the most expensive solar PV per kilowatt-hour of generation.

According to the University’s Wind Energy Report, 3% of the Italy’s land area has average wind speeds of greater than 6 m/s or good to excellent wind, 37% has average wind speeds from 4 m/s to 6 m/s or sites with good wind. The report quotes the Italian wind energy association (Associazone Natzionale Energia dal Vento), that Italy has the potential for 1,000 MW of small wind capable of generating 1.5-2 TWh per year. For comparison, solar PV generated more than 10 TWh in 2011.

Lead image: Small wind turbines via Shutterstock

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About kingstonrenewableenergy

Kingston Renewable Energy (KRE), Hydropower products, wind energy, renewable energy products, We manufacture, supply and install. Richard Kingston KRE is the home of Fluxy, a beautiful Irish made wind turbine designed to last several life-times, and a host of other Hydro products branded under KRE hydro. KRE HYDRO- KRE are currently installing a range of Hydro products including high head low flow systems and low head high flow. These are pelton and Turgo types for high head, crossflow Banki turbines for medium to low head and Powerpal for Ultra low head. We also plan to introduce a custom timber/steel/aluminium waterwheel service for those of you who are lucky enough to have disused mills on their land and who would like to restore them to their former glory (and make a healthy profit in the process). All hydro installations are custom designed. This is necessary because everybody's land and water resource is different and to benefit from the highest efficiency and lowest payback time the hydro system must be customized according to what flow, penstock length required, and what head is available. Hydropower is currently by far the most cost effective renewable resource in Ireland under the existing Feed in tariff structure and export rate of 9c per unit (wholesale rate for bigger systems is €0.087/kWh). It is surprising how much energy is to be harvested from even a small stream and we are offering 4 to 7 year payback times on average and high profits thereafter. KRE FLUXY- It has been a long journey from when I originally set out to buy a wind turbine to power my own house in 2007 and discovered that the existing machines on offer in the market failed to meet my desires as a customer; that is, to possess an aesthetically designed machine with a low embodied carbon footprint and a long design lifespan. This led to my resolve to make this a possibility as I knew there were other like minded folks out there who had the same needs when buying into renewable energy. I have always been a keen environmental activist and had a strong understanding of engineering and material sciences which enabled me to see failings in the high tech electronically controlled machines commonly available today. These weaknesses come from over complicating the wind system with servo motors, sensors, gear trains, relays and logic circuits; fine for large utility scale turbines which are constantly monitored and have continual maintenance on site but not for a small wind turbine in the back yard to run the house. I could see that wind turbines needed to be brought back to a less complicated yet modern design that would withstand time and the turbulent and violent winds we see in Ireland and fulfilling the old engineers adage of ‘KISS’ or ‘keep it simple stupid’. With less component parts, there are less things to go wrong. My vision was to create a machine that offered the benefits of being an economic investment, a positive for the environment and also to be a design piece that our customers are proud to have flying in their grounds. And so, I present you with the fully mechanical Kingston Renewable Energy Fluxy wind turbine. Please feel free to contact us at any time if you have any questions or think you may have a good wind site. We will happily do a site assessment come rain or shine. Stay posted for the monthly blogs from our inspirational team here at KRE. Check out our latest installments in our crusade to get higher feed-in tariffs in Ireland so that we can compete with the rest of Europe in the micro-generation stakes. The Hydro section of our website will be updated shortly to show our newest installations and showcase our products. Yours sincerely, Richard Kingston

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