Annual Report 2017
Country Reports


Luca Benedetti Gestore dei Servizi Energetici - GSE S.p.A.


In the framework of the agreement between ENEA and the Ministry of Economic Development (MISE), under the Ricerca di Sistema - Ocean Energy Programme, ENEA has been long carrying out an intense coordination activity aimed at bringing together the major Italian actors in the ocean energy sector. The interrelation and standardization of the scientific and technological expertise of the Italian actors of the Ocean Energy sector were recognized as priority issues, and an unprecedented synergic effort has been set up for the technological innovation of marine energy plants, on which the recent National Research Action Plan 2015-2020 was able to draw for the constitution of the Blue Growth Technology Cluster.

In May 2017, ENEA hosted the meeting “Italian contribution to the SET Plan on Ocean Energy”, in accordance with the guidelines of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan). The meeting aimed at bringing together the Italian R&D activities in the Blue Energy sector, in order to design a common strategy for the acceleration of their development and for the deployment of innovative technologies in the transition to a low-carbon energy system.


The positive international outlook for ocean energy deployment has induced researchers involved in subsidiary fields and potentially connected industrial players to approach this promising sector. They actively contribute to designing the building blocks of innovative ocean energy converters, either by developing ad hoc technologies or by optimizing existing ones, as well as to enlarge the existing database of environmental and product design constraints.

Prior to planning a renewable energy project it is essential to determine where sufficient resources exist, that guarantee adequate return on investment levels. For this reason, it is essential that reliable and updated maps, data and forecast systems are coupled to the engineering of devices, allowing optimal facility siting and a better understanding of site characteristics. As the size and complexity of the installations under study increase, the tools adopted to project or measure the resource become more and more critical and need to integrate a variety of modelling and monitoring techniques.


Mean Energy flux over the Mediterranean for years 2001-2010


ENEA performs ocean wave modelling activities aiming to both quantify ocean energy availability in the Mediterranean Sea and provide the information necessary to optimize the operational set-up of wave energy converters. A wave forecast system was developed by ENEA in collaboration with Enel Green Power, and validated, and has been operatively running since June 2013 (

Forecasts cover the entire Mediterranean basin, while nested higher resolution projections are provided for ten sub-basins along the Italian coasts. A sample projection for the western coast of Sardinia is shown on the figure on the right. When coupled to real-time measurements, the forecasting system can further support the operation of wave energy generation devices, predict actual electric power generation and give the alert in case of severe sea conditions.



There are a number of Italian research institutions and enterprises involved in the development of devices for ocean energy conversion, design ad hoc numerical model for their most promising concepts:

  • The Politecnico di Torino routinely performs numerical experiments in order to explore a large number of possible configurations for the devices that are being developed, from the first stages of the design process. Both in-house and commercial software tools allow the simulation of array pattern arrangements of devices, assessing the performance and productivity of wave farms as a function of location, mutual hydrodynamic interaction and electric connection. Numerical tests also enable to estimate maintenance requirements and optimal operating conditions.
  • The University of Bologna and Politecnico di Milano conduct numerical experiments to optimize the scaling and performance of wave power devices to be deployed off the Italian coast and in the Mediterranean environment. Their tests have demonstrated that several Italian locations and a large part of the Mediterranean coastline could be successfully exploited for marine energy production if properly downscaled devices are employed. They also develop non-linear models of the combined hydro-mechanic and electromagnetic behaviour of WECs, as well as of the hydrodynamic interactions of point absorber arrays (wave farms) in real wave fields.
  • The Università Sapienza in Rome has recently developed an integrated open source tool, aiming at modelling the behaviour of floating wave energy converters under the ENEA-RSE-MISE agreement.
  • CNR-INSEAN carries out research activities for the development and validation of advanced Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models to simulate the operation of wave and tidal energy devices. Results are validated against experimental.



CNR-INSEAN offers research infrastructures that include world-class towing tanks and flume tanks, thus providing a relevant testing environment for wave, tidal, and offshore wind energy systems. The facilities provided are among the largest worldwide and consist of: a 460x13.5x6.5 m calm water tank, a 240x9x3.5 m wave tank and a 12x3.6x2.3 m depressurised circulating water channel.

These infrastructures are used to test large scale models of concepts with TRL up to 5 and allow the simulation of real operating conditions at sea, accounting for the combined effects of winds, currents and waves. The facilities are equipped with advanced measuring systems in order to provide the complete characterization of device performance and response to simulated operating conditions, including extreme events. Testing activity is supported by in-house laboratories for the design, manufacturing and maintenance of test models and of the related equipment. A moving laboratory to support field site measurements is being developed to support on-site characterization and prototype operation activities.

The CNR facilities have been included in the leading internationally distributed infrastructure MARINERG-I (a Horizon 2020 Project covering years 2017-2019), designed to accelerate the research development and deployment of offshore renewable energy. CNR has been invited to represent Italy in the Consortium and to promote a network of national stakeholders with expertise, capabilities and interests in marine renewables technologies.