Italian transmission system operator (TSO) Terna has rubber-stamped grid connection points for over 7GW of floating wind power projects being progressed by Hexicon in waters surrounding the southern European country, clearing the way for the final greenlighting of the developments by the government.

The 7,100MW in so-called STMG permits, which commits the TSO to make “necessary [electricity network] capacity available” ahead of production start-up of the future gigascale arrays, are the penultimate step before the key AU (autorizzazione unica) approval to build and operate an offshore wind farm off Italy.

Hexicon, operating in Italy through its joint venture AvenHexicon, has one more grid connection application outstanding that is “being processed and is expected to come through shortly”, it said.

“The Italian government signaled early on an ambition to take measures to speed up the processes for renewable energy projects, to faster cut dependence on Russian gas,” said Hexicon, in a statement.

“With a vast coastline and excellent wind resources, especially in the deep waters of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy has a strong potential for floating wind. The country is aiming to generate 55% of its total electricity generation from renewables by 2030.”

Alberto Dalla Rosa, CEO at AvenHexicon, stated: “The progress is moving at record speed, which speaks for Italy's ambition to develop renewables in the country. Having the grid connection ready is yet another milestone passed, and one which significantly increases the value of each project.”

The six project sites are located in water depths of 200-plus metres off Sardinia, Sicily and Puglia in the Mediterranean Sea. The seventh, which lies in similar water depths, has a capacity of 1GW.

Hexicon, which is developing a distinctive two-turbine floating concept called TwinWind – being piloted topped with a pair of MingYang turbines off the UK, told Recharge it was “still too early” to set out a concrete timeline for the developments.

“It is still too early to envisage precise times, as a process to update the Italian offshore wind legislation and policy is being shaped, which will largely influence an investment landscape,” said Rosa.

Italy has one one operational offshore wind farm, Renexia’s 30MW Beleolico, brought online last year, but a host of developers have been building a pipeline of deepwater projects, with the country dubbed one of a ‘chasing pack’ of second generation floating wind markets with technical potential of near 4TW.

Along with AvenHexicon, other developers with oars in the water for Italy’s floating wind play include a tie-up between Falck and BlueFloat, start-up 7Seas Med, and a JV between Apulia-based developer Hope Group and Swiss-based investor Galileo.

The country could soon be home to the world’s largest floating wind-powered hydrogen hub as early as 2027, too, following the signing of a deal between developer Aquaterra Energy and Seawind Ocean Technology to build a 3.2GW project dubbed HyMed, off the southern European country.