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Increasing block rate: a burdern on the road towards energy efficiency in Italy?

pubblicazioni - Memoria

Increasing block rate: a burdern on the road towards energy efficiency in Italy?

Questo articolo illustra il problema di come una tariffa progressiva per l’energia elettrica rappresenti una forte barriera alla diffusione di tecnologie efficienti facenti uso di elettricità, come la pompa di calore e l’auto elettrica, e analizza alcune soluzioni per ridurre tali barriere.

In Italy there are approximately 35 million smart meters and about 20 million customers have been billed according to a mandatory Time-of-Use tariff since July 2010. RSE has been monitoring the impact of such tariff among residential customers, obtaining some interesting results, and is also currently involved in the S3C European project, whose main goal is to empower “smart” customers to participate in active demand and electricity supply system efficiency.MTime dependent tariffs can indeed induce a more efficient use of electricity from the overall system point of view. From the customer point of view, increasing energy efficiency is related to the use of technologies which “do the same (or even more) with less”: within this context, heat pumps and electric vehicles have a strong potential and deserve initiatives to promote them and to overcome the barriers to their development.M In Italy, one of the main barriers is the current electricity tariff for “franchise customers”. For the residential customers, such a tariff is an increasing block rate: i.e. the higher the consumption, the higher the price per kWh paid, due to the progressive increase of the weight of various charges and taxes. An increasing block rate penalizes customers with high consumption, even though this is a consequence of efficient electric end-use technologies, such as heat pumps and electric vehicles, which allow for a reduction of primary energy (fossil fuels) consumption. On the other side, fossil fuel consumption is billed with a decreasing block rate, which make the situation even more penalizing for those willing to switch from fuel to electricity. In order to overcome this barrier, the current Italian regulation allows a residential customer to sign an additional contract (with the installation of an additional meter) specifically dedicated to the supply of a heat pump for domestic use or to the charge of an electric vehicle. The consumptions measured by such additional smart meter are billed with a flat tariff (so called “other usages” tariff), instead of an increasing block rate. Nevertheless, the activation of the “other usages” supply is expensive (about 500 €) and the fixed annual costs of the flat tariff are much higher than the fixed costs of the standard residential tariff (301 €/year vs. 43 €/year) .MRSE is currently exploring the feasibility of some possible solutions, such as the installation of an additional smart meter in series with the main one, with the consequent billing of the consumption with a flat tariff, but within the context of the same supply contract signed for “domestic usages”; another possibility might be introducing an increasing block rate together with variable tiers, whose size depends on the efficiency of the owned appliances (i.e. higher for those who have an heat pump and lower for those who have an electric water heater) or on the number of components of the family. Apart from tariffs, RSE is also considering the installation of specific tools to monitor the performance of heat pumps, in order to warn the customer of possible low performances or to make him/her aware of the advantages with respect to traditional technologies. This paper will present the result of the analysis on the impact of the Time-of-Use tariff on the Italian customers, showing how such tariff has been capable of changing users’ electricity consumption habits to a certain extent. It will also compare the above mentioned possibilities to boost the diffusion of efficient technologies such as heat pumps and electric vehicles by lowering the barriers faced by the customers, therefore improving the overall efficiency of the energy system.

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