Cleaner, Smarter, Cheaper: Opportunities for Italy in Europe’s changing energy system?

The new study shows how Italy can reap the opportunity of cheaper clean technologies and embrace higher ambition on climate and energy, in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

The “Cleaner, Smarter, Cheaper: Responding to opportunities in Europe’s changing energy system” report analyses the benefits for Italy of going beyond the Clean Energy Package current proposals and demonstrates that the Italian coal phase-out is feasible without any additional costs and without new gas capacity.

Over the past few years, we have witnessed significant cost reductions of renewable and storage technologies as well as unexpected progress on electrification and smart consumers, while a growing number of EU Member States have announced or are debating coal phase-out strategiesReductions in the costs of clean technology have gone far beyond anyone’s expectations and are tipping the economics in favour of decarbonisation. Global action on climate change, meanwhile, is further accelerating clean energy deployment and innovation. This is game-changing for Europe.

How should Europe and, in particular Italy, respond to this new reality?

To answer that question, the European Climate Foundation and partners in the Energy Union Choices consortium (E3GRAPWWF EPO and BPIE) asked experts from Artelys to update the outlook for the European power sector to 2030 and compare that to current ambition levels of energy policy. The study was published in late 2017 but its European modelling exercise has been used to provide a compilation of the major insights for Italy and compare them with Italy’s National Energy Strategy (Strategia Energetica Nazionale, SEN) adopted by the Government in November 2017. The SEN outlines the pathway of the Italian energy sector until 2030, with a provisional outlook to 2050. Key priorities include a coal phase- out by 2025 and reaching a 55% share of renewables (RES) in electricity consumption by 2030.

The main highlights from the report are the following:

    • A coal phase-out does not lead to higher costs or energy security issues;
    • Coal is replaced by renewable energy sources, not gas. Italy could aim for 59% of renewable by 2030 and solar PV features huge potential for zero-carbon, low-cost electricity generation;
    • Demand response and inter-connectors provide flexibility at lower cost, replacing gas (i.e. no need for new gas plants to be build);
    • Regional cooperation is a strategic solution that benefits Italy and its neighbours in the form of lower electricity bills and increased energy security.

The report (in Italian) is available for download here.