Plans and Priorities
Plans and Priorities

The National Energy Strategy (NES) issued in November 2017 recognizes that the energy sector has a fundamental role to play in the growth of the economy.

The National Energy Strategy sets out measures to ensure the creation of a secure, sustainable and competitive energy system in order to tackle climate change, achieve sustainable growth and environmental targets, as envisaged by COP21’s targets and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Italian clean-energy policies will contribute not only to environmental protection attaining Europe’s decarbonisation targets by 2030 in sustainable ways, but also to increase the energy security by reducing the dependence of the energy system and promoting the renewable energy & energy efficiency sectors; enhance Italy’s competitiveness, by the reduction of the energy’s costs and the energy’s consumption; support the technologys cost-reductionand the development of innovative solutions by promoting the strategic role of R&D.

The other strategic national priorities for the energy system are:

  • integrate variable renewable energy sources in the national grid, thus contributing to reduce greenhouse gases for the entire energy sector;
  • increase the demand side management as flexibility source solutions and with advanced services and innovative opportunities using data mining and big data algorithms;
  • support the development of digitalization and “blockchain” solutions which play an important role in helping to integrate renewable sources and distributed energy resources, as well as facilitating demand-response and intelligent charging of electric vehicles;
  • consider alternative fuels and biofuels as key driver to help the transition towards a low-emissions mobility, especially at urban level;
  • enforce the leadership in the implementation of smart grid technologies, as well as energy efficiency measures and energy storage solutions;
  • strengthen the security of networks and energy systems potentially subject to cyberattacks, while ensuring the confidentiality and ownership of data.

The progressive transition towards low-emission models requires substantial efforts in supporting technological evolution, as well as research and development of new technologies. The Strategy aims to strengthen public support and create conditions to attract private investments, with the goal of contributing to developing technological concepts that can sustain the energy transition at reasonable costs, and offer business and employment opportunities.

Italy’s technological innovation activities are closely coordinated with the European Union Strategic Energy Technology (SET) Plan in the perspective of the full implementation of the Energy Union at European level. In coming years in fact, EU R&D resources will be increasingly allocated to the priority Key-Actions identified under the SET Plan, as already happened for the Horizon 2020 Programme for Research and Innovation.

Considering UE efforts and commitment in Mission Innovation, the NES establishes an integrated approach for both MI and the SET Plan to be implemented by the Italian Government in designing the clean tech R&D governance framework.

Within this context, Italy considers the launch of Mission Innovation an opportunity to accelerate public and private investments in clean energy research and innovation. The Italian participation can offer a significant contribution in facing problems such as the low private sector participation in R&D investment in the energy sector and the high degree of fragmentation among the R&D actors.


The Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) has been appointed by the Italian Prime Minister’s Office, as lead Administration of the Italian participation in Mission Innovation and, thus, has implemented two levels of governance. The first one with the main Ministries involved: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI), the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF), the Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR) and the Ministry of Environment and Protection of Land and Sea (MATTM).

The second one with the public R&D institutions which carry out energy-related research such as the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), the National Research Council (CNR) and Research on Energy Systems (RSE) which are already committed in the context of Programme Agreements with MISE. Other important contributions are coming also from the National Institute of Oceanography and Applied Geophysics (OGS) and the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT). An important role will be also played by the regional governments and the scientific community (universities, R&D labs).

Funding programmes

Research and development investments in low carbon technologies are implemented through a number of mechanisms including cost-shared projects with the private sector, research and development activities at the R&D National Agencies, grants to universities and Cohesion Funds at regional level. Further resources have been budgeted to fund R&D through tax breaks through 2015-2020 to the benefit of the private sector and of public- private research projects.

The main contribution to Mission Innovation investments will come from public institutions both at national and regional level. Following a period of decline in the first half of the 2000s, public funding for energy-related R&D increased, reflecting the renewed priority attached to this sector. Funding declined again at the end of the decade, however, as a result of an overall cut in public spending. The government energy R&D budget allocated to energy efficiency and renewable technologies grew steadily during the decade, with the exception of the last few years. In 2011, public energy RD&D funding amounted to around EUR 400 million. The budget structure has changed in recent years, with a marked shift towards energy efficiency and renewable (24% and 17% of the total budget respectively), while nuclear R&D has lost ground (23% in 2011 compared to 40% in 2000). Transport research is also funded through the general research framework and through programmes dedicated to transport.

On this basis, the NES proposes a series of measures:

  • Greater support for R&D promoted by private stakeholders: tax reliefs were introduced as a first step, as well as the other automatic tools introduced with the 2016 National Industry 4.0 Plan.
  • The funds available from the CO2 auctions will cover experimental development and demonstration, in particular to ensure support for demonstration projects (first-of-a-kind), so as to favor the transfer of results to the production system.
  • Launch of an “Energy Cluster” in August 2017 led by ENEA for public-private research partnerships to which more than 90 public and private entities have signed up: it could mobilize important resources and be replicated in other sectors.

These measures will be complemented with three other funding instruments:

  • the Fund for System Research in the Electricity Sector (financed from electricity tariff revenues);
  • the Fund for Intangible Capital, Competitiveness and Productivity in order to enhance the value of the results of research project, and favor technology transfer towards the economic and productive system (Budget Law 2018);
  • the Fund for Investments and Country’s infrastructural Development (Budget Law 2018).
  Focus areas for MI
Energy efficiency in Industry & buildings
Energy efficiency in vehicles & other transportation
Solar, wind and other renewables
Hydrogen & fuel cells
Cleaner fossil energy
CO2 capture & storage
Electricity grid
Energy storage
Basic energy research


Innovation Challenges

Italy is engaged in all the 8 Innovation Challenges with different levels of interest and involvement.

1. Smart Grids IC

Italy is Co-Lead with China and India and is extremely active in engaging other partners, stakeholders and related international institutions. Italy is founder of the International Smart Grids Action Network (ISGAN) and relies on notable expertise in deploying smart solutions and on research and economic actors with relevant international profile along the whole supply chain as TSOs, DSOs, technology component manufactures (batteries, electrical and electronic devices), R&D.

2. Off-Grid Access to Electricity IC

Endorsement of IC and sharing of relevant national information and perspectives also in the light of a high national interest both at research and industrial level. Italy has a specific target regarding the deep decarbonisation of small non connected communities.

3. Carbon Capture IC

Endorsement of IC and current position of observer in order to better match Challenge plans with national related R&D activities.

4. Sustainable Biofuels IC

Endorsement of IC and great expectation of the work programme’s development, forasmuch as several research and deployment activities are ongoing in Italy along the entire innovation value chain; moreover, according to national plan biofuels are among key tools for transport sector decarbonisation. In fact, Italy works on the analysis of biomasses availability, the designing of sustainable bioenergy scenarios, the development of biomass-in-biofuel conversion technologies and the efficient utilization of biofuels in engines.

5. Converting Sunlight IC

Endorsement of IC and involvement in work plan strategic planning, in the light of a national interest which is reflected in activities all along the research chain (modeling, design, prototypes production). Italy shares the perspective of a conspicuous engagement of the industrial sector in the IC activities.

6. Clean Energy Materials

Endorsement of IC and active involvement in planning further developments. Italy has strong competence in new material synthesis engineering and industrialization, with particular interest in topics as energy conversion, low energy application and materials with peculiar properties and emerging class of 2D materials (graphene). It is envisaged as a complementary activity a national “roadmap for new materials for energy”. Companies have expressed interest in the approach proposed by the IC#6 and some of them are already using this modelling approach for new materials development as proposed in IC#6.

7. Affordable Heating and Cooling of Buildings IC

Endorsement of IC and active participation in the activities. Based on the significant energy demand for H&C applications, Italy can rely on important research efforts in topics related to the development of integrated and efficient energy urban districts and in the integration of heating and cooling systems in the building sector.

8. Renewable and Clean Hydrogen IC

Endorsement of IC in the upcoming activities. Italy considers with high interest the production of “green” hydrogen from renewable sources through the electrolysis process, which entails positive effects in terms of CO2 emissions reduction and climate change mitigation. The production of hydrogen from electricity and storage in gaseous or liquefied form represents a valid option to increase the flexibility of the energy system and the integration of high levels of non-programmable renewable sources.

Methodology for determining baseline

Baseline is composed of the Mission Innovation related parts of enacted appropriations for Fiscal Year 2013 (base year), as identified among selected line‐items of clean energy RD&D, across the Ministry of Economic Development, and like‐budget tables of other Governmental Agencies and public R&D Institutions.

Country definition of clean energy R&D investment

Italy has proposed a doubling plan to increase from € 222 million to € 444 million by 2021, with specific R&D investments on efficiency, biofuels, renewables, advanced materials, hydrogen and smart grids.

Investments are implemented through a number of mechanisms including cost-shared projects with the private sector, research and development funds for R&D National Agencies and the universities, Cohesion Funds at regional level.