Because the energy transition of small businesses is slow

Because the energy transition of small businesses is slow

Inadequate incentives, overly complex and ever-changing rules, lack of competence: so SMEs risk being cut off from the green revolution

Installation of photovoltaic systems (Getty Images) The energy transition goes at the same speed for all? Not for the Foundation for Sustainable Development, which in a recent study with the National Confederation for Crafts (Cna) found that small Italian entrepreneurs complain that they are only touched by incentives. And this despite the fact that small and medium-sized enterprises are responsible for 60% of total emissions in two key sectors of the Italian economy, such as manufacturing and construction.

For Andrea Barbabella, head of energy and climate of the Foundation for sustainable development , this happens “because many incentives have been conceived and designed to measure for the giants, the so-called 'energy pumps', and they mark the pace when it comes to SMEs, despite the latter being the backbone of the Italian industrial system. From the point of view of energy costs, the country has favored the protection of large industry and citizens. In the first case, because the energy bill constituted a substantial part of company costs and influenced their competitiveness; On the other hand, for a form of protection for families with medium-low consumption ".

The problem is that, even when there are incentives, many small businesses do not have the requisites to access them.

"The 'white certificates' (one of the main tools for promoting energy efficiency in Italy, ed) have worked quite well - continues Barbabella -. And in fact the industrial sector is practically the only one that has reduced emissions in the last 30 years. But using them is difficult for SMEs ”. According to Barbabella, the incentive decree of the Fer (Renewable energy sources, another cornerstone of the energy transition) also requires a very high cost planning capacity. The result is that in SMEs the interventions are not carried out in half of the cases, and when they are done, three times out of four are carried out entirely at their own expense. "And the first obstacle, once again, is an excess of bureaucracy" points out the researcher.

Uncertain rules

The Italian tendency towards regulatory complication is proverbial but "the theme is known to global level ", comments Dario Di Santo, director general of the Italian Federation for the rational use of Energy (Fire), who proposes:" Considering that the right skills are lacking, why not set up territorial hubs capable of offering services in common? "A way to block the clever ones, who take advantage of the bureaucratic difficulties to the detriment of the most honest.

However, small and medium-sized companies have not responded well even to tailor-made policies, such as regional tenders for finance energy audits and energy management systems. The solution? "T routing the way to intercept the interest of companies. Explaining that the path towards the transition begins with small, apparently irrelevant steps, such as energy diagnosis, "says Di Santo.

And then there is the issue of the stability of the rules. Businesses, says Di Santo, "prefer stability, even in the face of high incentives, because the entrepreneur plans and reasons more or less like this: if the rules change after a year and a half, why should I take the risk of investing? ". But sometimes citizens also end up in the meat grinder. As in the case of the story of a condominium in the province of Varese, collected by Wired. Thanks to the action of an engineer tenant, the assembly had voted to install a photovoltaic system in 2009. The plan was to repay it thanks to incentives and savings on the bill. But with the Monti government the rules have changed, explains the promoter, and a few years later the power was judged too high. As if it were a commercial activity tout court. “We even found ourselves having to open a company to manage it - says the promoter of the project -. The result? As pioneers we were, today we find ourselves being skeptical ”.

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