Italy’s Recovery plan might allocate €10 billion of EU funding to tax credits that favor fossil gas heating systems in buildings.
In a nutshell:
- Heating in buildings is responsible for one third of GHG emissions in Italy
- EU and Italy’s money might go to tax breaks for fossil gas heating
- Heat pumps and solar installations would already be a competitive alternative
In 2020, Italy introduced the “superbonus”, an incentive for the renovation of existing buildings which gives 110% in tax credit for expenses in all types of residential buildings. The interventions planned in the “superbonus” will be funded with €8 billions coming from the 2021 national budget, and could be paired with €10 billion coming from the Recovery plan.
The goal of the “superbonus” is to improve energy efficiency in buildings, including by supporting the replacement of existing heating systems with new ones. As it stands today, the incentive has a major flaw: it does not make any distinction between fossil and renewable heating systems. In other words, this means that fossil gas boilers and fossil gas condominium heating systems are perfectly eligible for funding.
As a result, new gas heating systems are being installed instead of heat pumps connected to photovoltaics, which are already cost-competitive and would make much more sense given Italy’s climate.
This is unacceptable, especially as heating in buildings makes up for one third of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Italy. To change track, the new Italian government needs to stop subsidizing fossil fuels, both in the form of direct incentives for new heating systems and of tax exemptions for domestic gas consumption. Instead, EU and Italy’s money should be allocated to an ambitious buildings’ renovation measure that could truly decarbonise the buildings sector and reach the energy efficiency targets needed for a zero-emissions system.