WIT Press

Energy efficiency in industry 4.0: assessing the potential of industry 4.0 to achieve 2030 decarbonisation targets


Free (open access)


Volume 6 (2021), Issue 4



Page Range

371 - 381

Paper DOI



WIT Press


Simone Maggiore, Anna Realini, Claudio Zagano, Francesca Bazzocchi, Elena Gobbi & Marco Borgarello


The energy transition for the industrial sector is not limited to a reduction in energy consumption: the real issue is to combine sustainability with growth, by mixing the two ingredients (the rational energy use and the industrial growth) which are not always compatible. The National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) and the New Green Deal policies in Italy have the goal to promote an economic development as well as the environment sustainability and social inclusion. RSE1  has investigated the role of the national incentive plan ‘Impresa 4.0’ in Italy (currently ‘Transizione 4.0’, equivalent to ‘Industry 4.0’) as a measure to promote the energy transition, analysing whether and how is it possible to combine economic development with energy efficiency. Originally, it was developed to increase the competitiveness of industrial sector, but, progressively, it was also used to promote energy efficiency and sustainability. A survey was carried out by RSE on about 300 companies that implemented innovation and digitalisation interventions, monitoring the effects and impacts that the ‘4.0 choice’ has determined on energy consumption, on their environmental externalities and, in general, on other costs. Moreover, some case studies were collected, together with a database of ‘Impresa 4.0’ application, which supported technical and economic evaluations. The impact of these measures on energy performance of the companies was estimated from the analysis of actual projects and from interviews and discussions with the operators. In this paper, the results of the survey are presented and the outcomes are analysed in comparison with the Italian manufacturing sector performance, in order to establish the potential of ‘Impresa 4.0’ policies in supporting the decarbonisation process and reaching 2030 environmental targets.


decarbonisation, energy efficiency, environmental externalities, Industry 4.0.