The main instrument of public support for the promotion of energy efficiency in our country is the payment of incentives

The adoption of solutions or strategies to make energy consumption more efficient has become a top priority nationally and internationally, both to reduce the environmental impact of the most polluting sectors and to lower costs and increase competitive leverage in the market. 
To date, there are several incentives that can benefit realities in the industrial and tertiary sectors, most notably:

  • Energy Efficiency Certificates
  • Thermal Account
  • National Transition Plan 4.0 (Tax Credit 2021)


EECs are tradable certificates that certify the achievement of energy end-use savings: one certificate is equivalent to not consuming one tonne of oil equivalent (TOE).

This scheme is of considerable interest to the corporate world: in a typical scenario, a company approaches an Energy Service Company like Geoside to undertake efficiency projects in-house. Once completed, these projects are submitted to GSE, the state company dedicated to promoting sustainable development, including energy efficiency. Once the requirements have been verified, GSE issues the EECs to which the company is entitled.

EECs are not mere attestations, but certificates with an economic value, which may vary over time, because in Italy there are efficiency requirements for large energy and gas distributors, which can also be fulfilled through the purchase of White Certificates linked to projects carried out by third parties.

Therefore, a company that has implemented efficiency measures not only benefits from reduced consumption, but also receives a financial contribution related to the value of White Certificates. The EEC system has had a huge impact: according to the GSE annual White Certificates Report 2020, between 2006 and 2020 the scheme produced 28.5 Mtoe of savings, proving to be the most effective mechanism for supporting energy efficiency.


The new “Thermal Account” (or “Conto Termico 2.0”) is an incentive mechanism open to public, private and corporate entities. It is a state contribution entirely managed by GSE and regulated by the Interministerial Decree of 16 February 2016.

Interventions that can access the Thermal Account are divided into two categories:

  • Category 1, interventions to increase energy efficiency. These interventions are dedicated exclusively to the Public Administration.
  • Category 2, interventions for the production of thermal energy from renewable sources and high efficiency systems. All entities are eligible for these interventions.

More specifically, Category 1 interventions include thermal insulation of surfaces, replacement of windows and doors, replacement of winter air conditioning systems with condensing boilers, replacement of lighting systems, and implementation of building automation systems. Category 2 interventions, on the other hand, concern the replacement of winter air conditioning systems and electric water heaters with heat pumps, biomass-fuelled boilers or hybrid heat pump systems with condensing boilers, and the installation of solar thermal systems.

The amount of the incentive granted by GSE varies from 40 to 60 per cent of the expenses incurred and is disbursed in annual instalments divided into 2 or 5 years depending on the type of intervention.


The National Transition Plan 4.0 provides incentives for private investments in high-tech plant and machinery and is one of the main lines of the national plan known as INDUSTRIA 4.0.

This is a tax incentive that consists in reducing taxes owed to the state, subject to investment in innovative assets.

The 2021 Tax Credit has been enhanced compared to 2020 and includes content updated with the 2021 Budget Law in Official Journal No. 178 of 30/12/2020.

All Italian companies with tax domicile in Italy, of all types and across all economic sectors, can benefit from it. The assets purchased must be deployed in Italy.

New duration of the measures

The new tax credits are provided for two years;

The starting date of the measure is brought forward to 16 November 2020;

For contracts for the purchase of capital goods completed by 31/12/2022, it is possible to benefit from the credit merely with a down payment equal to at least 20% of the amount and delivery of the goods within the following 6 months (therefore, by the end of June 2023).

Advance payment and reduction of offsetting with a greater tax advantage in the year

For investments in “ex super” capital goods and non-4.0 intangible assets made in 2021 by subjects with revenues or remuneration of less than €5 million, the tax credit is available in one year;

Immediate offsetting (from the current year) of the credit relating to investments in capital goods is permitted;

For all tax credits on tangible capital goods, the use of the credits is reduced to three years instead of the five years provided for under current legislation.

Increased caps and rates (Tangible and Intangible Assets)

Increase from 6% to 10% for all tangible capital goods credit (ex super) for the year 2021 only;

Increase from 6% to 15% for investments made in 2021 to implement agile work;

Extension of the credit to intangible assets that are not 4.0 with 10% for investments made in 2021 and 6% for investments made in 2022.

Increased caps and rates (Tangible Assets 4.0)

For expenditure below EUR 2.5 million: new rate at 50% in 2021 and 40% in 2022;

For expenditure above EUR 2.5 million and up to EUR 10 million: new rate at 30% in 2021 and 20% in 2022;

For expenditure above EUR 10 million and up to EUR 20 million: new cap: 10% rate in 2021 and 2022.

Increased caps and rates (Intangible Assets 4.0)

Increase from 15% to 20%;

Ceiling from EUR 700,000 to EUR 1 million.

Research & Development, Innovation, Design and Green

R&D: increase from 12% to 20% and ceiling from EUR 3 million to EUR 4 million;

Technological innovation: increase from 6% to 10% and ceiling from 1.5 million to 2 million;

Green and digital innovation: increase from 10% to 15% and ceiling from 1.5 million to 2 million;

Design and aesthetic conception: increase from 6% to 10% and ceiling from EUR 1.5 million to EUR 2 million.

Training Credit 4.0

Extension of the tax credit to expenses incurred for the training of employees and entrepreneurs;

It is granted within the two-year period covered by the new measures (2021 and 2022).

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