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How does the Italian industry undertake energy efficiency and what is the relationship between energy efficiency and the industrial sector?

Last year, the demand for energy services for businesses was driven by the Industry 4.0 Plan, which laid the foundations for the growth of the turnover of energy efficiency in Italy.

These are investments of approximately 7.1 billion euros, of which one third are destined for the industrial sector. What should the Italian industry expect from energy efficiency in the coming years?


To date, the most widely adopted solutions have concerned efficient combustion systems and cogeneration, with investments ranging from 443 to 459 million euros. These solutions are now decreasing compared to previous years, while investments in energy efficiency record significant growth. This is probably due to the positive effects of the Industry 4.0 Plan.

Regulations for industrial energy efficiency

Another innovative investment solution is that of Energy Management Systems, among which IoT solutions prevail, they are worth 129 million euros, as well as industrial interventions involving the use of hardware and software technologies related to digital energy.

Certainly, the main barriers to investing in energy efficiency are the regulatory uncertainty and excessive return on investment. In addition, companies interested in investments have decreased, while those that do not expect particular changes are increasing.

Those who want to invest in energy efficiency prefer to manage interventions internally precisely to avoid relying on external parties, who anticipate the investment costs but retain part of the earnings.

With regard to the prospects for the next few years, we will certainly see the evolution of the regulation for energy optimisation, which will however remain below the needs of the market overall.

Renewable energies in the industrial sector

Industry 4.0 and energy monitoring bring competitiveness to companies, thanks to common objectives such as innovation and technological transformation, not to mention the energy savings achieved by digital and hi-tech technologies.

An increasingly connected factory is powered by cutting-edge energy systems, demonstrating how digital transformation can also guide energy evolution thanks to the following factors:


Undertaking a path towards energy efficiency means optimising energy resources at best, an essential aspect for companies that aim to competitiveness and reduction of waste. In fact, the reduction in energy consumption is the main reason that pushes companies to make investments in energy efficiency, in addition to the need to replace systems or machinery that are underdeveloped by now.

Benefits of energy efficiency in the company

The major obstacle perceived by companies in the field of energy efficiency is linked to the very long return times and the uncertainty of the regulatory framework. Everywhere, the difficulties are felt in better implementing the obligations and incentive schemes and in following the discontinuity of the laws over the years.

Other barriers to the diffusion of energy efficiency in companies concern the interaction with the production and purchase process and the difficulty of accessing capital. In particular, SMEs complain of the lack of information, the need for complex solutions, the difficulties of adapting existing structures, the need for non-standardisable solutions and the lack of tailor-made financing models.

Support for industrial energy efficiency

The main facilitation measures in favour of companies are the Energy Efficiency Certificates, the Thermal Account 2.0, the tax deductions for the energy requalification of buildings and the hyper-amortisation on investments in new technologies.

The National Industry 4.0 Plan, on the other hand, also stimulates investments in innovative technologies that improve the use of energy resources and the management of emissions into the environment.

By 2030, through the National Energy Strategy, greater competitiveness will be made possible in energy markets, reduced costs for citizens and businesses, reduction of energy expenditure thanks to:

The planned public investments are 175 billion euros and Italy is one of the most energy efficient countries, the first in the world in the reduction of carbon dioxide.

However, an ad hoc analysis is still needed to identify the best solution for every need, keeping investments in the sector growing, which may concern:

Technological clusters for innovation

The so-called technological clusters aim to accelerate the innovative process through a mutual interaction between institutions, companies and research centres. They take care of developing common projects and synergies, as well as continuing dialogue with the Regions as far as the calls for innovation are concerned.

The regional technology clusters, in fact, are industrial policy tools that stimulate cooperation aimed at technological innovation and overcoming the difficulties encountered by businesses.

Incentives and reforms in the energy sector

In Italy, in industrial sector, energy efficiency and the public resources dedicated to it are still not enough. Yet the potential for energy efficiency remains high in this sector too.

The eco-bonus for building renovations and the incentive for the rational use of energy in industry have similar objectives but very different costs for the state. There is a sort of dangerous competition for public resources between the industrial and residential sectors. Energy service companies believe in the potential of the industrial sector, despite its difficulty in investing.

Italy and the energy efficiency of industry

Italy and Germany are the first in the world in the international ranking of energy efficiency, thanks to the energy saving capacity of the industrial sector.

Italy has been able to demonstrate that it takes this issue into high consideration with the mandatory energy diagnosis, the White Certificates and the diffusion of cogeneration in plants within the country.

What can be done more it is undertaking additional solutions, with longer turnaround times and more complex designs. In fact, the reduction in energy consumption in the industrial sector, which has taken place in recent years, is certainly due to greater energy efficiency, but future forecasts guarantee good growth that bodes well.

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