The european directive 2009/28/EC and renewable energy

European directive 2009/28/EC and the italian action plan

European Directive 2009/28/EC is an action plan common to all member states of the European Union to improve energy efficiency in energy consumption and to promote the use of renewable sources in transport, electricity, and space heating or cooling.

The main objectives of the European Directive are two:

  1. 20% improvement in overall energy efficiency from renewable sources by 2020
  2. 10% enhancement for energy from renewable sources in transport.

The Directive also stipulates that each member state must adopt its own National Renewable Energy Action Plan in which it must outline the targets for each sector and how it intends to achieve them, guaranteeing a 10 percent share of renewable energy for the transport sector, as mentioned in point 2.

Italy adopted its National Action Plan for Renewable Energy (NAP) in June 2010, and with Legislative Decree No. 28 dated 3/3/2011, it set out the modalities for implementing the measures in the NAP, consistent with the indications of European Directive 28 of 2009.

The main objectives of the Italian NAP are:

  1. The security of energy supplies, given that Italy is a country that imports most of its energy needs
  2. The reduction of environmentally toxic greenhouse gas emissions, such as CO2, CH4
  3. Improving the competitiveness of domestic industry: Italy must take advantage of ‘technological innovation to promote renewable energy in order to create long-term economic stability for Italian industries to invest in alternative energy sources

The sectors involved in the Action Plan cover:

  1. Heating, cooling, and thermal uses: represent a large part of national final consumption, which is greatly increased by the use of industrial boilers. The Italian NAP pursues the development of renewable sources for district heating networks and cogeneration plants, as well as the introduction of biogas into the Italian natural gas distribution network. It also promotes alternative energies for heat needs in buildings.
  2. Electricity: renewable sources, such as the sun and wind, do not guarantee constant energy production due to their peculiar characteristics of intermittency. Since electricity cannot be stored and must be converted immediately, a monitoring system is needed to control at all times how much energy should be produced and how it should be distributed.

In Italy, this system, called dispatching, is managed by Terna through a National Control Center, the heart of the Italian electricity system that runs 74723 km, or 293 power lines.

The NAP envisages the creation of efficient networks for storing, storing and dispatching the electricity produced (which cannot be fed into the grid) and the implementation of new power lines into the system through the development of wind farms in southern Italy and its two islands.

  1. Transportation: each European state has an obligation to ensure the 10 percent share of renewable energy to be invested in the transportation sector. The main mechanism for incentivizing the use of renewable energy in the transportation system is the placing on the market of a minimum percentage of biofuels, i.e., fuels made from biomass, such as bioethanol, biodiesel and biohydrogen.

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Renewable sources produce electricity without polluting the environment. They are naturally available resources capable of continuously regenerating themselves, spontaneously and in potentially inexhaustible quantities. Their environmental impact is negligible compared to the traditional energy sources of fossil and nuclear fuels, which, in contrast, are not renewable.

Fossil fuels are derived from organic matter settled in the earth’s subsurface, such as coal, natural gas and crude oil, while nuclear fuels are derived primarily from uranium. In both cases, these are exhaustible sources, many of which are also highly polluting.

The main forms of renewable energy are:

  • Solar energy: this is the Earth’s primary form of energy and is converted into electricity by solar panels and photovoltaic systems, exploiting the electromagnetic effect. Heat is also derived from solar energy, which is the thermal energy used to heat fluids.

Unlike all others, solar energy systems have the ability to operate year-round since the Sun is always present. In addition, storage systems allow solar energy to be stored to make up for shortages at night.

Photovoltaic systems have been used for some time in Italy and can be installed on the roofs of apartment buildings or private homes, significantly saving costs on utility bills.

  • Wind energy: is the mechanical energy generated by the mass of air moved by the wind. Using wind blades and turbines, the kinetic energy of the wind is captured and converted into electricity. Wind power plants achieve maximum efficiency when placed near seas and oceans.
  • Biomass energy: this is a very versatile energy derived from any type of organic matter, such as household organic waste, unused wood, farm manure and agricultural crop residues. Depending on the type and composition of biomass, conversion to energy is done by different processes: for example, woody biomass is transformed by thermal processes (combustion), while biochemical conversion processes (fermentation) are followed for wet biomass.

It is mainly used in the transportation sector (biofuels to fuel vehicles) and by manufacturing industries.

  • Geothermal energy: is energy that harnesses the Earth’s heat generated by nuclear decay processes of radioactive elements (uranium, thorium and potassium) within the Earth’s core, mantle and crust. Geothermal power plants transform this heat into electricity. Geothermal energy production is continuous, as it does not depend on outside temperatures or weather conditions. It is not always easy, however, to tap into reservoirs, which can reach great depths.
  • Hydraulic energy: is the energy produced by the motions of water. Using turbines and harnessing the force of gravity, the kinetic energy produced by rivers and tides is converted into electricity. Hydropower is potentially infinite as long as the water cycle exists.

Hydropower plants are often installed in mountains or dams are built near reservoirs. In this way, gravitational potential is maximized.

  • Marine energy: this is the energy generated by ocean currents, that is, by huge masses of water, to produce electricity. Ocean energy is captured by the movement of blades and turbines, as is the case with wind energy.

The oceans are also capable of producing thermal energy from the heating of water caused by solar radiation.

The promotion of renewable energy is critically important to the energy transition process. In addition to reducing emissions of polluting gases and environmentally harmful radioactive waste, alternative sources of energy bring political-economic benefits because they free countries from dependence on oil, which is localized only in certain geographical areas of the Planet. Energy self-sufficiency through

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