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KURZFASSUNGEN (FORUM WARE INTERNATIONAL)

ITALIAN ENERGY SUPPLIES: SECURITY AND INSTABILITY

Laura RECCHIA *

Keywords: energy supplies in Italy, self-sufficiency, pollution, costs, renewable energy,

policies incentives

Introduction

This paper intends to analyse the situation of energy supplies in Italy, with particular attention to the

prospect of the use of renewable energy sources. The energy problem is an international one and involves not

only questions of an economic nature but those of a political and social one as well. Italy is a very

industrialized country whose consumption of electric energy is constantly growing.

This article demonstrates the almost complete dependence of the Italian system on the use of non-renewable

energy sources for the production of electrical energy and the need for new policies which encourage and

develop new and renewable sources of energy. Over 79 % of the production of electrical energy in Italy comes

from the use of non renewable sources: petroleum, natural gas and coal, while little over 20 % is represented

by the use of renewable sources: hydroelectric plants and geothermal electric energy (respectively 19,4 and 1,7

%). The problems linked to this are the fact that obviously these non-renewable sources are running out in a

not very far future, and also the fact that these sources are located in areas considered very politically unstable.

The social problems resulting from an indiscriminate use of non renewable sources are linked to the

disintegrated environment caused by pollution due to the products of these sources.

This paper intends to demonstrate that in Italy the attempt to encourage the development of renewable

sources follows the policies put forth by the European Community. Italy, like many European countries, is in

no way self- sufficient; most of its energy is imported. A large part of the problem in the implementation of

new energy sources results from the high costs of activating an “alternative” energy plant. The politics of costs

play a major role in the decision making processes.

The use of renewable sources costs the EC 1.345,12 billion € more than traditional energy sources for the

production of electrical energy. Italy has taken advantage of incentives that the European Community puts

forth and participates in the programs which encourage the use of renewable energy. It cannot be ignored that

the solution to the energy problem is one that must come from an active collaboration of all the countries:

those which supply and those which consume. Technology has demonstrated that new and alternative energy

sources are practicable only when there is a common consent which permits the implementation of these

technologies. Energy production has in the past been considered only an economic and technical question, but

today the production of energy goes well beyond these bounds. The social and “human” aspects of energy and

the respect for the quality of life has become of utmost importance.

In 2000 the demand for electrical energy in Italy was 271.4 (billions of KWh), a rise of 3.2 % with respect

to the year 1999. This increase in demand was satisfied by a larger net production of electrical energy equal to

3 % from 232.4 TWh to 329.3 TWh and with a rise in the net import of electrical energy from abroad.

Mtep* Quota %

Petroleum Products 23,9 45,1

Natural Gas 11,8 22,3

Solid Combustible 6,1 11,5

Hydro-electric 10,3 19,4

Geothermal-electric 0,9 1,7

Total 53,0 100,0

Tab. 1: Italy, Contribution of different primary sources to the production of electrical energy

* Mtep = millions of tons of petroleum equivalents

Source: ENEA (2000) Introductory considerations In: International Conference Energy and

Environment Roma p.90

In Tab.1 the contribution, expressed in Mtep, of the various primary sources to the production of electrical

energy in Italy in 2000 is made evident. In this chart the availability of the electrical energy imported is not

included which is 8.5 Mtep equal to 3808 TWh. As results from Tab.2 show, Italy has an absolutely abnormal

situation with respect to the industrialized nations. This is with regard to the extremely high percentage in the

FORUM WARE 32 (2004) NR. 1 - 4

89

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