District Energy in Italy

  • Country Profiles
  • 15 November 2019


Since 1972, district heating in Italy has maintained an upward trend, however, it is only covering around 6% of the total residential heating demand. The primary energy mix source used in district heating systems during 2017 is quite varied. We may compare the situation to 1995 and evaluate how it has been changing. As a positive change, we can see that in 1995 the renewable sources were just 3% of the total energy sources, in 2017 this percentage grew to 24%.


2017 confirms the continuous positive trend of penetration of renewable sources and of industrial waste heat: in the last few years the use of renewable sources has increased, for example from 418 ktoe in 2015 to 469 ktoe in 2017 and industrial waste heat has increased from 1,1 ktoe to 4,3 ktoe. Fossil fuels are important in the energy mix and natural gas is still the main energy source (1.378 ktoe). Natural gas has replaced other fossil fuels, for example in 1995, coal represented the 12,5 % of the used sources, in 2017 the share is down to 2,5%.


In 2017, Waste to Energy occupies the second place as “fuel” used in district heating systems.


Focusing on renewable sources, bioenergies have an important role (in particular biomass), as the third fuel in district heating systems with a share of 9,1% . Even if its presence in Italian Land is massive, the use of geothermal resources is still marginal with only 1,2% share. In 2017, in addition to the first solar district heating system in Varese, two other DHC systems integrated solar energy in their mix, in Lodi and in Forlì DH systems.



There is a Heat Strategy in Italy and it is contained in PNIEC, the energy and climate national integrated plan. The Italian plan has different targets and starts from EU 2050 objectives. First of all, the Government aims at the reduction of primary energy consumption, compared to the PRIMES 2007 scenario, by 43% and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 2005, for all non-ETS sectors, by 33%. To reach these goals the Italian Government incentivizes renewable sources and, for the first time, gives great attention to thermal renewable sources.


DH has not a key role yet, but the Government has recognised that District Heating can contribute to the objectives. In the National Plan, the Italian Government focuses on:
– Review of Italian District Heating potential;
– Developing 4th generation DH systems;
– Developing low-temperature DH networks;
– Use of thermal storage;
– Integration of different sources: waste heat, heat Pumps, solar, etc…


If you would like to learn more, you can purchase the latest Country by Country Survey.



Italy is also involved in our #DHCities?️ initiative:




In addition, the Italian city of Turin is also featured in this initiative. For more information on the impact of district energy at a local level, explore our #DHCities?️ map, featuring DHC decarbonisation success stories from over 35 European cities: euroheat.org/map


Useful links:

Italian District Heating Association (AIRU)

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