Spotlight Issue: Ambitious National Energy Strategy Approved
In November 2017, the Minister for Economic Development Calenda and the Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea Galletti, signed the decree for the 2017 National Energy Strategy (Strategia energetica nazionale 2017 or SEN). The document outlines new energy goals for 2030 with ambitious objectives that are aligned with EU mitigation targets of 80% GHG reduction by 2050 (over a baseline of 1990). The document will be the basis for the Energy and Climate Integrated Plan, a roadmap to be prepared by the Italian government and to be submitted in 2019 to the Energy Commission as fulfillment of the shared EU climate responsibilities.
The SEN was developed following the pillars of a) competitive energy pricing by reducing the cost of energy, b) decarbonisation of the economy to achieve the COP21 goals, and c) reducing energy dependency while improving internal energy systems and infrastructures.
Specifically, the second point looks at increasing further the role of renewable energy sources and energy efficiency, accelerating the decarbonisation of the economy and doubling the investment in clean energy research to 444 million Euros in 2021.
|2015 Actual||2030 Goals|
|Share of renewables as a % of total consumption||17,5||28|
|Share of renewables for electricity end use||33,5||55|
|Share of renewables for thermal use||19,2||30|
|Share of renewables in the transportation sector||6,4||21|
Note that the SEN is not a law, but a shared vision for Italy’s 2030 energy commitments. It will be the task of the new government (elections will be held in March 2018) to translate the SEN guidelines into laws and assign appropriate funding and resources for all initiatives–an investment of around 17.5 billion Euros per year until 2030. As the two ministers point out in the document introduction, the SEN is just a starting point.
There are three reasons of praise to highlight:
First, the National Energy Strategy resulted from months of a comprehensive and public process. Talks and workshops were organized and stakeholders from all sectors were engaged, including the general public. According to the ministers, all comments were taken into considerations with several, including those pressing for more ambitious goals, being integrated in the final draft.
Second, the SEN does a really good job of addressing a few controversial points regarding the necessary conditions for implementation. The four sticky issues are: infrastructure needed to guarantee energy supply while phasing out coal; update of previous schemes to subsidize and incentivize renewable electricity generation; convergence of energy goals with the protection of the landscape; Third, the social consequences of the energy transition with particular attention to retraining workers of shrinking industries.
Finally, the last reason of praise regards the clear outline of a governance structure with the task to oversee this cross-ministerial effort. Often, governance issues constitute a huge barrier during the implementation phase.
Status: Moving Forward
Given the global and European context, the Italian SEN constitutes a very important step forward in providing a shared framework for the pursuit of energy and climate mitigation goals. Moreover, the document presents many of the key characteristics needed to succeed. It will be up to the new government (to be elected in March) to ensure its prompt and swift translation into concrete policies. The new national goals provide a realistic path to achieve the Paris Agreement pledge.
Those responsible for the development of SEN are to be congratulated for advancing Italy’s efforts to improve energy use. Now it’s important that the government builds on the energy blueprint established by SEN.
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