Ambrosetti Forum 2022: a faster transition will bring concrete benefits for Italy

Published on Tuesday, 6 September 2022

“The Study highlights that investing resources to reach zero emissions by 2050 would not only bring us faster towards a clean, sustainable and energy secure future, but will use resources more efficiently, create more jobs and bring more significant savings than pursuing a less ambitious pathway.”

– Francesco Starace, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Enel

Goals unattainable at the current speed

As stated by Valerio De Molli, Managing Partner and CEO of The European House-Ambrosetti, “now more than ever, timely decisions and actions need to be put in place to facilitate a rapid change of course.” In fact, at the current rate, Italy would not reach its national greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2050 until 2109. In 28 years, as regards the production of renewable energy, the difference would be 60.7 percentage points from the targets, and 35.1 million tons of oil equivalent (Mtoe) for energy efficiency.

Actually, until 2018, Italy boasted a positive track record in the development of renewables and in the improvement of energy efficiency, which allowed the country to reach and exceed the 2020 objectives originally set at a European level both for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and for the share of renewable energy sources. However, in the last 3 to 4 years there has been a drastic slowdown: “The main obstacle to the development of renewable energies,” says the President of our Group Michele Crisostomo, “is caused by the authorization procedures, but it’s not the only hurdle. The complexities of governance in identifying areas suitable for their development and difficulties in identifying the competent authorities to issue permits also weigh heavily. Italy’s transition is still too slow, but it must be done decisively because the investments necessary to eliminate CO2 emissions by 2050 are lower than those necessary to reduce them.”

Greater energy independence

The Net Zero E-conomy 2050 study also explains that decarbonization is key to achieving energy independence. While the European Union depends on fossil fuel imports for 57% of its energy (a share that remained virtually unchanged between 2000 and 2020), Italy is in second place in the natural gas dependency index with a value of 41.2%.

“This study very clearly highlights the excessive dependence on gas of some economies of EU countries, namely Italy’s significant dependence and the very clear advantages that an accelerated reduction in the use of fossil energy sources can bring precisely to those who make excessive use of them today."”

– Francesco Starace, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Enel

The “Net Zero” scenario would result in the reduction of the energy dependency index, especially in Italy. In particular, increased penetration of renewables by 2030 (63% of total generation) and 2050 (98% of total generation), together with electrification and energy efficiency, would reduce energy dependence to 56.7% by 2030 (compared to 68.3% with the current trend and 63.5% with the “Low Ambition” scenario) and to zero by 2050 (compared to 57.9% with the current trend and 31.3% with the “Low Ambition” scenario).

Reducing imports of fossil fuels from other countries is a necessary condition and is achievable only through increased energy production from renewable sources, which are the most efficient tools for reducing emissions and increasing energy independence.


The proposals

To accelerate the path towards a zero-emissions economy, the study specifies two prerequisites and five proposals. The first prerequisite is the need to ensure stability, transparency and consistency of European, national and local energy policies and measures. The second is to support industrial production in upgrading existing green technologies, as well as developing new green solutions by eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.

The five proposals for a zero-emissions economy are:

  • a cross-sectoral proposal ensuring a stronger form of cooperation and a greater degree of harmonization in the governance of the energy transition at the European level.
  • in the electricity sector, simplifying authorization procedures for renewable plants, facilitating interventions on energy infrastructures, and promoting demand-side management and the wide-spread deployment of storage facilities and flexibility solutions.
  • in transportation, streamlining procedures for the construction of charging infrastructures, strengthening collaboration among all electric mobility players, promoting interoperability, optimizing grid connection times and promoting the electrification of Local Public Transport (LPT).
  • for the industrial sector, leveraging legal frameworks to support the technological shift towards greener solutions, creating technology transfer laboratories for direct and indirect electrification solutions, and promoting demand-response systems.
  • In the context of buildings, establishing the phasing out of fossil fuel boilers and creating a one-stop shop to support the renovation of buildings.

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