Italian energy policy


18.12.2014 Karolina Iskierka

In 2013 Mario Monti’s government developed the National Energy Strategy, which, after almost twenty-five years since the previous document regulating energy policy in Italy, not only defines the objectives and priorities in this area, but also defines the role of Italy in the international context. ISPI, one of the most influential Italian think tanks has recently presented a report titled “Energy Security”, which is a comparative analysis of the energy situation in Italy and other European countries, and may serve as a starting point to check the current state of implementation of the Strategy.

The National Energy Strategy involves seven Italian energy policy priorities: increasing energy efficiency, increasing competitiveness in the gas market, sustainable development, renewable energy, infrastructure development for power market, restructuring of the oil sector and fuel distribution networks, sustainability of domestic production of hydrocarbons and modernization of the management system in the sector. The deadline for the realisation of the above objectives has been determined for 2020. Italy intends to develop its energy sector in a sustainable way, aiming at the same time to achieve the objectives imposed by the European Union in the field of environmental protection.

As for now, the most successful field of the Italian energy policy is increasing the role of renewable energy in the energy mix. Italy stands out positively in this area compared to other European countries. The most valuable resource that Italy has is the sun that shines in the south of the country for about 80 per cent of the year.It seems that the best solution to increase energy security of Italy would be investing in solar concentrators (Concentrated Solar Power – CSP), more efficient than the popular solar panels. In 2014 Italy was ranked second (after Germany) among European countries generating the most solar energy, at the same time taking third place in the world (following China). Italy is also the world leader when it comes to the share of solar energy in the energy mix. 7.8 percent of energy consumed in the Apennine Peninsula is derived from the sun (in Germany, 6.2).

The government’s strategy is to gradually change the structure of the Italian energy – the objective is that in the energy mix there will be more energy derived from renewable sources and less from gas. Data collected by ISPI shows that actually the gas consumption in Italy is falling. In the first half of 2014 Italians consumed 31.9 billion m2 of gas (about 5.3 billion m2 less than in the same period in 2013).That means that the demand decreased by as much as 14 per cent compared to the previous year, but about 29 per cent compared to the data prior to the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008. The largest decreases were recorded in the housing sector, which is a phenomenon observed also in other European countries and can be explained by mild temperatures in winter and spring.

A reduced energy demand resulted in a decline in imports by 1.3 billion m2. The most significant (about 40 per cent) drop was in imports from Algeria, which can also be a result of difficulties in the production capacity of the country caused by underinvestment. Italy has long been trying to reduce its dependence on supplies from Algeria and Russia, which cover about 50 per cent of the total energy consumption in the country. The solution may be opening for gas from the Caspian Sea through the South Corridor and the TAP pipeline.

The problem that remains unsolved is that the power network in Italy is characterized by high dependence on imports. In 2013 up to 13 per cent of the demand for electricity was covered by imported energy, more than in any other European economy.

Another weak point of Italy, which is emphasised by the report’s authors, is the lack of energy from nuclear power plants. According to the National Energy Strategy, this gap should be filled by gas power plants and nuclear energy imports from France.


Sources:

On the basis of:

  1. Sicurezza energetica, N. 18 aprile-giugno 2014

http://www.ispionline.it/sites/default/files/pubblicazioni/focus_energia_18_aprile.giugno14.pdf

  1. Energetica nazionale Strategy: Competitive per un’energia più e sostenibile, October 2012, www.sviluppoeconomico.gov.it (18.10.2012).

http://pureenergies.com/us/blog/top-10-countries-using-solar-power/