Italian Energy Summit, the future is electricity

Published on Tuesday, 10 October 2017

“We will create recharging infrastructure that is widespread, accessible, functioning and capable of adapting to the changing technology. The advance of electric cars is only a question of time: this dynamic, once it begins, will become very rapid”

– Francesco Starace, CEO and General Manager of Enel

The electric car is set to really take off on a global level. “The cost of batteries has fallen by 74%, we are experiencing a period that reminds me of the shift from coal to oil at the beginning of the last century,” explains Valeria Termini, from the Authority for Electric Energy, Gas and the Water System.

“Italy is the hub for energy, a laboratory where over the last 15 years the greatest changes have occurred and that today has 25 interconnections with the rest of Europe,” explained Luigi Ferraris, CEO of Terna, which announced the electric interconnection project with France (200km of underground cable) and with Tunisia.

From users to customers

For the Italian market it is a very particular moment: in July 2019 the protected market will close. The date has been fixed by the legislation on competition that, according to Carlo Stagnaro of the Ministry for Economic Development, “will change the role of the consumer, who will no longer be just a user, but a customer with rights and responsibilities. The closure of the protected market also changes the energy market, involving the transformation from a commodity to a service and it changes the networks which will become platforms where the consumer is the owner and supplier of data.”

“With the end of the service of major protection, the challenge is to create the conditions for an efficient and free market,” says Andrea Peruzy, President and CEO of Acquirente Unico.

Thanks to renewables, already today there are hundreds of thousands of Italians that are so-called “prosumers”, consumer-producers of energy: a revolution that began at the start of the 1990s and that today is beginning to gather momentum thanks to the technology.

Storage will play a key role. According to Alfredo Camponeschi, Head of Energy Management at Enel, “each of the sources must play a fundamental role for the correct functioning of the system: renewables as an important element for the elimination of greenhouse gas: the conventional sources as tools capable of guaranteeing flexibility, energy security and the adequacy of the system; storage systems to guarantee the right balance.”

The conversion to renewables

“Energy diversity is a value,” as Guido Bortoni, President of the Authority for Electric Energy, Gas and the Water system, explained at the opening of the Summit. The evolution of companies historically linked to fossil fuels demonstrates that there is no turning back from the road to renewables. This is the case, for example, with Eni, as its CEO Claudio Descalzi explained, “The transformation that began three years ago is almost over. With the price of oil having fallen by half, it has been necessary to find an alternative in green chemicals and in refinement.”

The word that comes up again and again is sustainability. Beatrice Lamonica, of Sustainability Lead Accenture Strategy, describes an epoch-marking transition in the the perception of sustainability, from reducing costs (safety, environmental accidents, etc.) to a competitive factor that is also fundamental for the reputation of the company.

There are three key words for the future of sustainable energy: the elimination of greenhouse gas, decentralization, digitalization. Few days ago the public consultation concluded on the National Energy Strategy (Sen) 2017: on environmental management and energy security Lamonica underlined the harmony with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN’s 2030 Agenda that our Group has placed at the centre of our strategy.

According to Marco Alverà, Managing Director of Snam, Italy is “the most inter-connected country in Europe with 7 different sources (from Algeria to Russia to Norway). We must look towards the European Energy Union.”

Also ERG has reinvented itself, passing from oil to renewables, explains its CEO Luca Bettonte, while Paolo Gallo, CEO of Italgas, laments the fact that investments in gas have been blocked by the stalled contests still waiting to take place.

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