The Italian district heating has developed very recently. Since 1972, it has kept an upward trend, but the share covered for satisfying the residential heat demand is still low with 3%. At the end of 2015, 303 cities are fed by district heating systems, serving around 3% of the residential heat sector. The highest share of total sales (67%) was also within the residential sector.
The primary energy sources used in district heating systems during 2015 is quite diversified. In relation to recent years, the fossil sources increased slightly in comparison to the recovery from waste-to-energy, which had a substantial increase. Natural gas increased during 2015 and is still the main energy source. The recovery from waste-to-energy increased to 13,6%, confirming their role of second “fuel” used in district heating systems. Focusing on renewable sources, bio-energies (in particular biomass) play the main role, which represent nowadays the third fuel in district heating systems with 8,3% of input.
As displayed on the graph, the leading energy used in Italy for heating is natural gas, mainly for individual boilers. In the Alps and the Apennines mountains, biomass plants (whether used in district heating or individually) are becoming increasingly widespread. 77% was generated from direct renewables and recycled heat. Regarding district cooling systems, there are very few in Italy and there is no development expected even in the coming years.
CHP plays an important role in Italy’s national energy systems, with more that half of national electricity production from CHP in 2015. In addition, 68% of the district heating supply in 2015 was generated through CHP. However, the majority of CHP demand is from industry.
The Italian Government policy states that district heating should be supported, but national enforcement tools do not significantly support the development of district heating networks. The market during the last year was stagnating, with a few very small exceptions.