The Italian wind-power sector could come to a standstill in the next two years unless urgent action is taken, the National Association for Wind Energy (ANEV) has warned.
ANEV Director Oreste Vigorito urged the government to intervene, stressing that the current system was unworkable.
“The wind energy sector is at risk of paralysis within a couple of years,” said Vigorito.
“The problem is that projects that are authorized are not always feasible, while feasible projects are frequently not authorized.
“At the moment, just 30% of wind-power projects are carried through to completion”.
Vigorito said red tape was strangling development in some areas of the country, while inertia and lack of interest on the part of local authorities was to blame elsewhere.
However, he also criticized the government for failing to implement clear and consistent nationwide legislation on wind power, which is currently regulated by norms that are radically different from one region to the next.
“This would provide operators with a measure of certainty,” he explained. “At the moment, the lack of clarity means they are forced to argue it out in regional courts.
“It also means they are unable to implement development plans and that costs remain high, both in terms of constructing plants and eventual energy bills”.
At present wind towers dotted around Italy’s central and southern regions generate some 2,000 megawatts of electricity a year, about 0.5% of the total national production.
A powerful anti-wind power lobby spearheaded by the National Committee for the Landscape, has sought to block the development of wind parks, mainly on aesthetic grounds.
Other objections are that wind stations require new roads and electricity lines, which further disturb the countryside. They also lower the value of land, make it useless for tourist purposes and regularly mangle birds.
Normally installed in groups of 15-20, wind turbines can be up to 75 metres high, with rotating blades some 15 metres long.
Nevertheless, “attractive plants which blend into the environment are perfectly possible,” according to Vigorito.
Luciano Pirazzi of the environment and technologies agency ENEA, concurred.
“There is a tendency in Italy to demonise wind power but in fact it can be a competitive source of energy. There are ways to improve the visual impact of wind parks, by the layout or by using colours that blend into nature,” he said.
Vigorito urged the government to give clear backing to wind power, stressing this was the only way Italy would be able to meet the European Union goal of producing a quarter of all energy from renewable sources by 2011.