Limits and Prospects of Renewable Energy Sources in Italy - The Italian energy balance for year 2005 is discussed with particular attention on renewable energy production. The potentials of renewable sources are evaluated in terms of energy density that can be obtained from occupied plant area. About 20000 km2 of sunny barren lands are present in South of Italy, particularly suitable for photovoltaic plants and that corresponds to a potential production of 144 Mtep of primary energy. Therefore, in theory, the photovoltaic energy potential is comparable with energy balance. The grid connection limit due to intermittent power generation of photovoltaic and wind energy systems is considered in relation with the stability of grid power level. Assuming a 25% maximum grid penetration of intermittent power with respect to capacity of active thermoelectric generators, the renewable energy contribution amounts to about 2% of annual energy balance. In front of expectations for a larger contribution, the practical result is the renewable energy production of present systems is marginal, unsuitable for counteracting the global climate crisis. The conclusion is that, for exploiting the large renewable energy potential, is necessary to implement the plants with an energy storage system able to overcome the source intermittency. Without this improvement, the expectations on renewable energy sources could be disappointed.
Key words: intermittent renewable sources, energy production limit, grid connection