Improving Energy Efficiency in SMEs: the Italian example
24 Април 2017

A recent European Commission study [1] on Best practices in Energy Efficiency revealed that some EU countries are already going beyond the requirements of the Energy Efficiency Directive (2012/27/EU). Among them, Italy has decided to take significant steps to address the question of energy efficiency in SMEs. The energy news website Energy-in-Demand International described the ambitious aspects of the Italian regulation (the full article is available here).

Whereas the current Clean Energy Package proposal has left untouched the article 8 (4) limiting to non-SMEs the obligation to undergo regular energy audits, since 2014 the Italian regulation has put in place a more ambitious regulation.

Audit obligation for certain SMEs

The Italian regulator has defined ‘energy consuming companies’, according to their energy consumption. Beyond a certain threshold – 2.4 GWh annual consumption or energy cost superior to 3% of company’s turnover - these companies are subject to energy audits obligation, even if they are SMEs. Close to 3,000 companies fall into that category in Italy. The certification of the auditing bodies ensures the audits’ quality.

Mandatory recommendations’ implementation

Once the audits are performed, energy consuming companies have the obligation to implement audits recommendations. Penalties - up to €20,000 - can be applied for non-implementation. To further support SMEs efforts, the Italian government allocated an annual budget of €15 million to co-finance SME audits through regional programmes.


Between 2014 and June 2016, 8,461 companies have undergone energy audits. On 15,000+ energy audits, about 37% have been performed by SMEs.

SMEs represent 99% of all businesses, the Italian model could be the ground for replication and help EU to tap into this important energy savings potential.

[1] European Commission, A Study on Energy Efficiency in Enterprises: Energy Audits and Energy Management Systems, 2006, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/EED-Art8-Energy audits recommendations-Task 5-report FINAL.pdf

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