Italian white certificates: the new rules

Italian white certificates guidelines

As thoroughly illustrated in my papers presented at ECEEE and IEPPEC 2018 conferences, the Italian white certificates scheme (WhC) has been facing in the last years serious issues, related to the lack of certificates to cover the scheme’s target, skyrocketing market prices, frauds with simplified (standard) energy saving assessment procedures, etc. In order to deal with such issues the Ministry of economic development issued decree D.M. 10 maggio 2018 to modify the WhC guidelines introduced in 2017. The presentation held at Ponti 2018 event in Bolzano briefly describes the main changes.

The Italian WhC scheme has been working since 2005, delivering more than 26 million tons of oil equivalent cumulated by the end of 2017. Despite its longevity and success in terms of savings results, many issues have arisen in the last years, due to a mix of factors: stricter and more complex rules, reduction of low hanging fruits, especially in the industrial sector, frauds, market rules and cost recovery mechanism. In my recent papers presented at ECEEE and IEPPEC conferences such issues are illustrated in details, together with the main rules, and the need of amendments is highlighted.

To try to overcome such problems, important modifications have been introduced by D.M. 10 maggio 2018. The main changes are:

  • no more additionality integrated in the scheme for projects linked to improvements of existing facilities. WhC lifetime reduction (from 10 to 7 years and from 7 to 5);
  • new eligible projects;
  • introduction of eight new standardised solutions (led for internal and public lighting, electric motors, compressed air generation, smart bill, naval propulsion systems, hybrid and electric vehicles fleets);
  • improved flexibility for DSOs (two years to recover the 40% target flexibility instead of one, as it was previously of the 2017 guidelines);
  • 250 euro DSOs’ reimbursement cap;
  • possibility to issue temporary non-energy saving related certificates by GSE in case of lack of certificates to cover the minimum target;
  • new definition of cumulativeness, with the possibility to take both white certificates and super or iper ammortamento (with a 50% reduction of the number of certificates).

So, the first points deal with the supply, trying to increase the number of available certificates, whereas the other ones increase the flexibility for distributors (the obliged parties) and introduce measures to cap the market prices and deal with the lack of certificates to cover the minimum targets (i.e. the targets as reduced by flexibility measures). 

It will take time to verify the effects on the supply side and understand if they will be enough, but the new rules should ensure some stability in the meantime. WhC operators will indeed face good WhC price and less rejection issues. The new rules, on the other hand, won’t be sufficient to overcome all the issue: the differences between supply and demand on the WhC market is too large and even if the new rules will be successful in promoting new projects, they will generate certificates from 2019-2020 on, leaving a dangerous period to deal with. So new developments have to be expected in the next months.