Local stakeholders Italian market for stationary fuel cells remains a very difficult one. Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration technologies have a potential to deliver significant energy savings and emissions reductions in Italy, while helping to integrate renewable energy into the energy mix – especially due to the success of photovoltaic panels and windmills on the Italian landscape.
Fostering innovative manufacturing in Italy would also be associated with wider economic benefits, including the creation of green jobs.
In order for these benefits to reach Italian consumers and the overall economy, a supportive and stable policy framework is key to enable the market entry of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration technologies.
Policy recommendations for the large-scale uptake of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration in Italy include the following:
- High level recognition of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration benefits is necessary in order unlock the market potential for these technologies. Taking an integrated approach to the energy system (across heating, cooling, electricity production, distribution and consumption) would enable policymakers to identify and reward the full decarbonisation and energy efficiency benefits of fuel cells.
- Counting on Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration as one of the key technologies to decarbonise and improve the energy efficiency of buildings, through the building codes, white certificates scheme or Conto Termico, would ensure a higher recognition of the technology and thus provide a more predictable environment for investors.
- Adapting existing funding instruments would represent a further push for Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration technologies in Italy. It is important that Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration is included in the tool box of technologies eligible for incentives, based on its high efficiency and decarbonisation potential (i.e. Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration is labelled as A++ under the labelling scheme for space heaters). Support mechanisms like Conto Termico, should therefore also specify micro-Cogeneration technologies as eligible in addition to the improvement of building envelope efficiency and the replacement of inefficient heating appliances with condensing boilers, biomass based boilers, heat pumps and hybrid systems.
- Removing administrative and regulatory barriers would facilitate the market entry of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration, making it easier and less costly for small energy consumers to choose innovative, energy efficiency technologies. Lengthy bureaucratic procedures for the installation and authorisation process could be significantly improved in Italy (e.g. the complex “officina elettrica” authorisation process). Moreover, the connection to the electricity grid of Fuel Cell micro-Cogeneration in Italy takes 2-3 months, which can be addressed by following the “install and inform” recommended procedure in Article 15.5 of the Energy Efficiency Directive. In addition, the applications for tax credits or white certificates should be simplified in order that small installations below 50 kWe can benefit from these incentives.
 According to this authorisation procedure, in Italy everyone who can generate electricity is subject to the same administrative procedure as an “officina elettrica”, a big power plant. Nevertheless, private consumers installing micro-Cogeneration units in their homes cannot afford to go through the lengthy and burdensome administrative procedures as a power plant.
 The “install and inform” procedure is just a recommendation, so it is not binding for Member States and some of them are not complying with it. It would imply the compilation of a simple administrative form aimed at informing the national regulator about a new installation, in order for them to keep evidence of the self-generated electricity.