The Italian National Committee of the World Energy Council (WEC Italy) is a non-profit multi-energy association based in Rome, set up under the patronage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the former Ministry of Industry, Trade and Crafts in 1988. WEC Italy's members’ network brings together industry, institutions and universities and represents the different levels of all energy sources. Due to these characteristics, the Association has taken on a role of “super partes” in the Italian energy sector. WEC Italy promotes the World Energy Council’s mission and objectives and participates in its Global Studies Programme. It is also active in publishing the results of these studies in Italy. The Association also participates in furthering the national energy debate, mainly organizing conferences and workshops on key energy issues and acts to provide reliable and up-to-date information at all levels, not only for people working within the sector.
Energy in Italy
Energy supply balance, institutional framework and technology developments are key to understanding the 2019 Italian Issues Monitor.
Geopolitical and political issues are both in the Critical Uncertainties (Russia) and in the Action Priorities (EU Cohesion). In fact, Italian energy supplies are characterised by the same European reliance on Russian gas, making EU Cohesion crucial to address diversification and improve resilience. In addition, the historical industrial and commercial relationship between Italy and Russia make geopolitical issues related to Russia critical for the Italian energy sector. At the same time, technology developments bring along the need for a policy and regulatory framework that can enable the development and deployment of new solutions and technologies. This is the case of IoT/ Blockchain, as its deployment is still facing consumers’ scepticism and the lack of a clear regulatory framework.
Electric Storage also continues to be perceived as a critical issue mostly due to the evolving regulatory and technological framework. This issue, is generally connected to the development of both renewable energies and electric mobility - two areas of great interest for national and local energy stakeholders.
At the national level, private and public actions on Innovative Transport are not only related to electric mobility, which is more suited to the urban context. The replacement of traditional vehicles for improved emission performance, the development of biofuels and the deployment of natural gas and bio-methane (CNG and LNG) for buses, heavy vehicles and maritime transport, are important pathways in the evolving landscape of sustainable transport in Italy.
Energy Efficiency is once again confirmed among Action Priorities. Indeed, it will play an essential role in pursuing the triple objective of energy competitiveness, de-carbonization and energy security. In this framework, the Italian Government has confirmed tax deduction for the installation of efficient technologies in buildings.
Italy strongly depends on imports from Russia to meet its natural gas demand, almost 43% of the country’s total gas demand. Consequently, Italy is working on diversification of its suppliers (Algeria, Iran, Qatar, Canada, USA) and on the implementation of new infrastructures: the most recent one is the Tran Adriatic Pipeline - TAP aimed at improving the security and diversification of the EU energy supplies by bringing natural gas from the Caspian region. In addition, historical industrial and commercial relationships between Italy and Russia make the evolution of geopolitical issues very important for Italy.
The IoT and Blockchain wide spread still faces obstacles in the energy sector, mainly due to consumers’ scepticism, the lack of a clear regulatory framework and, in the case of blockchain, the need for the technology to mature further. However, Italy is proceeding in this direction, as proven by the Ministry of Economic Development’s 2019 Simplification Decree which presents a package of rules to recognise the legal value linked to the blockchain and a single fund on venture capital. The decree foresees also a call for proposals for 30 high-level experts who will study the national strategy on blockchain-based technologies.
Electric Storage continues to be perceived as a critical issue mostly for the evolving regulatory and technological framework. The critical uncertainty perceived on this subject is linked to the possible impacts on utility business models and the electricity system, especially due to Variable Renewable Energies (VREs) integration to the grid, and electric mobility - two areas of great interest for national and local energy stakeholders.
To pursue the triple objective of competitiveness, de-carbonisation and security, the role of efficiency is essential. The policies and good practices in Energy Efficiency are in fact capable of grasping these three objectives at the same time and in the meanwhile limiting the energy expenditure of families and businesses. To this effect, the budget law approved in 2018 provides tax deductions (IRPEF and IRES) for those who will invest in energy efficiency measures, in particular for the redevelopment of buildings in line with the last European policies adopted.
Innovative Transport: The replacement of traditional vehicles for ones with better emission performance, the development of advanced biofuels (from waste and non-food crops), the growth of electric mobility in the urban context and the promotion of natural gas (CNG/LNG and bio-CNG/ LNG) for buses, heavy vehicles and maritime transport, prove the dynamism of the Italian transport sector towards sustainability. In line with the Legislative Decree n. 257/2016 for the deployment of infrastructure for alternative fuels, the main network operators and big Italian energy players are developing programs and investments to increase the number of charging stations for electric cars and refuelling stations for natural gas at a national level.
EU Cohesion: Italian energy policies are aligned with the European directives and policy decisions agreed at European level. The National Energy Strategy 2017 and the production of the new National Climate and Energy Plan in 2018 move forward along the three pillars of the Clean Energy Package: renewable, efficiency, emission reductions, integration of energy infrastructures and a more integrated governance. The discussions and agreements on energy and environmental objectives within the European institutions are crucial to the evolution of the Italian energy sector that can already count on important legacies in renewable energies and natural gas technologies implementation.
Investment plans announced by major energy players showcase the commitment in deploying natural gas and LNG, as well as bio-methane, as a flexible solution that could both foster the development of sustainable mobility and renewable energies.
Digitalisation of the country’s economy and the development of energy chains is at the core of the government and businesses strategies. The penetration of IT within energy sectors is enabling new business models and more efficient asset management. This trend has also increased the awareness on cyber security measures as part of the efforts to guarantee resilience of energy infrastructures and services. Moreover, the main national energy actors are working on the greater integration of energy networks within Europe and towards a Euro-Mediterranean area aimed at increasing security and resilience of the national energy system.
Italian energy leader’s concerns and actions are aligned with technological developments, environmental awareness, security of supplies and geopolitical issues. In the same way, Italian public and private energy actors are implementing actions to support the strengths of the important Italian legacy on efficiency, natural gas and renewable energies along with the resilience and security of the energy sector.
Furthermore, in the context of the Energy Transition, natural gas, bio–methane, electric mobility and the development of “green fuels” (biofuels from non-food crops) technologies are increasing the portfolio of actions towards sustainable mobility. Moreover, the digitalisation of energy chains is at the core of businesses’ strategies, empowering more efficient and flexible asset management along with new business models.