Yesterday’s New York Times carries an international story about a small Italian town, Tocco Da Casauria, that has succeeded in combating its resource-challenged location. The story notes how Tocco’s new wind turbines, which are the new, quieter type, generates surplus electricity that the town sells into the grid to pay for extra municipal services. It’s an informative read, not just from the perspective of Tocco, but also its summaries of various Italian and European energy policies. For instance:

Italy is an unlikely backdrop for a renewable revolution. It has been repeatedly criticized by the European Union for failing to follow the bloc’s environmental directives. It is not on track to meet either its European Union-mandated emissions-reduction target or its commitment to get 17 percent of its total power from renewable sources by 2020, experts say.

Currently, only 7 percent of Italy’s power comes from renewable sources.

And the story off-handedly describes the significant challenges utilities will face with matching a variable resource with its users’ constant needs for electricity:

Though more electricity is produced than consumed in Tocco, its residents do not use the electricity it produces directly because relying entirely on local wind energy could leave the town vulnerable to blackouts during periods of calm.

We’ve written about our partners’ solutions for managing the complexities of wind fleets here, here and here.

I think that, what’s important here is that while wind energy won’t work for everyone and the smart energy ecosystem will vary from one geography to the next based on available resources and well as incentives, the global energy landscape of the future will likely be a mix of wind, solar, water, wave and yet to be discovered sources as we move to the smart energy ecosystem we’ve talked about here, here and here. What makes this town in Italy so successful? It makes good business sense. – Jon C. Arnold