The energy crisis, caused by the geopolitical situation of this past year, marks a tipping point in the profound transformation underway in how we produce and consume energy. In 2022, governments and businesses committed themselves to a continued increase in investments in renewable energy, with the aim of achieving energy systems that are more secure, sustainable and affordable.
This is the picture that clearly emerges from World Energy Outlook 2022, the annual report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The report was presented on Thursday, February 23 in the Capitolare Room of Palazzo Minerva. The meeting, organized by our Group, highlighted just how crucial the next decade will be in pursuing far-reaching projects meant to further solidify the synergy of purpose between institutions and companies and to move even more swiftly toward energy independence and security.
A transformation that, over the last year and specifically in Europe, has shown a particularly indicative acceleration. This is the outlook described, with hard data in hand, by IEA Executive Director Fatih Birol, who was present at the event along with our CEO and General Manager, Francesco Starace, and the Italian Minister of Environment and Energy Security, Gilberto Picchetto Fratin.
In fact, one key word strongly emerges from the World Energy Outlook 2022 analysis: diversification. This is where the increasingly strategic role of renewable resources comes into play, not just for the economy but also for the environment. Renewables stand to become the main means of ensuring the future sustainability of national energy policies, of the industrial sector and of private consumption throughout Europe.
“The year 2022 was unique for energy and we will look back on it as a turning point in moving towards a more sustainable and secure energy system. We are in a technological transition whereby gas will gradually be replaced by electricity produced from renewable resources, for traditional uses such as heating and power generation, because it is more cost-effective.”
This change was already underway, but was inevitably accelerated by the major energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, which is however showing encouraging signs just one year later. Facing the drastic reduction of imported gas from Russia, now reduced below the 10% threshold, over the last year Europe has responded with an increased investment in the solar and wind energy sectors, which saw a 40% increase in production in 2022. Despite the fact that the crisis led to a rise in coal consumption, CO2 emissions decreased by 2.5% during 2022, a change also bolstered by the increased awareness of citizens, and reflected in the increase in heat pump sales (+40%) and electric car sales (+15%), the latter figure a fivefold increase compared to 2019.
However, if Europe wants to stay competitive in the global energy market, it is necessary to embark on a plan for total conversion of the industrial sector, especially with regard to the production of technologies and devices. Without this production, it will be impossible to sustain a full transition to renewable energy, a scenario that would again leave Europe at the mercy of potential threats to its energy stability and independence.
What is the solution? Establishing mutually beneficial relationships with new stakeholders: a strategy that is fully supported by the entire Group, which has always relied on innovation to offer increasingly effective, economical and sustainable solutions for the energy needs of Italy and of Europe. As in the case of the 3Sun GigaFactory in Catania, which Francesco Starace defines as “...the result of a perfect balance between our supply chain and technological innovation.”
At a time when energy has become a determining factor, across all aspects of the modern world, the solution can once again be found in a committed and informed investment in renewable energies.