Thermoelectric plant in Civitavecchia, Lazio
Thermoelectric plant in Civitavecchia, Lazio

Energy in Italy come mostly from fossil fuels. Among the most used resources are petroleum (mostly used for the transport sector), natural gas (used for electric energy production and heating), coal and renewables. Italy has few energy resources, and most of supplies are imported.[1]

An important share of electricity comes from import, mainly from Switzerland and France. The share of primary energy dedicated to electricity production is above 35%,[2] and grew steadily since the 1970s.

Electricity is produced mainly from natural gas, which accounts for the source of more than half of the total final electric energy produced. Another important source is hydroelectric power, which was practically the only source of electricity until 1960. Wind and solar power grew rapidly between 2010 and 2013 thanks to high incentives. Italy is one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy.[3]

Overview

See also: Renewable energy in Italy

Eni is considered one of the world's oil and gas "Supermajors".[4]
Eni is considered one of the world's oil and gas "Supermajors".[4]

Energy in Italy come mostly from fossil fuels. Among the most used resources are petroleum (mostly used for the transport sector), natural gas (used for electric energy production and heating), coal and renewables. Electricity is produced mainly from natural gas, which accounts for the source of more than half of the total final electric energy produced. Another important source is hydroelectric power, which was practically the only source of electricity until 1960. The first power plant in continental Europe was inaugurated in Milan in 1883.[5]

Eni, with operations in 79 countries, is considered one of the seven "Supermajor" oil companies in the world, and one of the world's largest industrial companies.[6] The Val d'Agri area, Basilicata, hosts the largest onshore hydrocarbon field in Europe.[7] Moderate natural gas reserves, mainly in the Po Valley and offshore Adriatic Sea, have been discovered in recent years and constitute the country's most important mineral resource.

Solar panels in Piombino, Tuscany. Italy is one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy.[3]
Solar panels in Piombino, Tuscany. Italy is one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy.[3]

In the last decade, Italy has become one of the world's largest producers of renewable energy, ranking as the second largest producer in the European Union and the ninth in the world. Wind power, hydroelectricity, and geothermal power are also important sources of electricity in the country. Italy was the first country in the world to exploit geothermal energy to produce electricity.[8] The first Italian geothermal power plant was built in Tuscany, which is where all currently active geothermal plants in Italy are located. In 2014 the geothermal production was 5.92 TWh.[9]

Solar energy production alone accounted for almost 9% of the total electric production in the country in 2014, making Italy the country with the highest contribution from solar energy in the world.[3] The Montalto di Castro Photovoltaic Power Station, completed in 2010, is the largest photovoltaic power station in Italy with 85 MW. Other examples of large PV plants in Italy are San Bellino (70.6 MW), Cellino san Marco (42.7 MW) and Sant’ Alberto (34.6 MW).[10]

Renewable sources account for the 27.5% of all electricity produced in Italy, with hydro alone reaching 12.6%, followed by solar at 5.7%, wind at 4.1%, bioenergy at 3.5%, and geothermal at 1.6%.[11] The rest of the national demand is covered by fossil fuels (38.2% natural gas, 13% coal, 8.4% oil) and by imports.[11]

Italy has managed four nuclear reactors until the 1980s, but in 1987, after the Chernobyl disaster, a large majority of Italians passed a referendum opting for phasing out nuclear power in Italy. The government responded by closing existing nuclear power plants and stopping work on projects underway, continuing to work to the nuclear energy program abroad instead. The national power company Enel operates seven nuclear reactors in Spain (through Endesa) and four in Slovakia (through Slovenské elektrárne),[12] and in 2005 made an agreement with Électricité de France for a nuclear reactor in France.[13] With these agreements, Italy has managed to access nuclear power and direct involvement in design, construction, and operation of the plants without placing reactors on Italian territory.[13]

General statistics

Energy in Italy[14]
Population[15] Primary energy
consumption
Production Export Electricity
consumption
CO2-emission[15]
Year Million PJ PJ PJ TWh Mt
1990 56.7 6,136 1,060 5,329 235 389
2000 56.9 7,182 1,180 6,382 302 420
2010 59.8 7,274 1,382 6,217 326 392
2011 60.1 7,033 1,337 5,916 327 384
2012 60.3 6,755 1,464 5,528 321 367
2013 60.6 6,506 1,539 5,159 311 338
2014 60.8 6,145 1,536 4,817 304 319
2015 60.7 6,388 1,511 5,084 310 330
2016 60.6 6,321 1,403 5,088 308 326
2017 60.5 6,424 1,424 5,215 315 322
2018 60.5 6,304 1,455 5,105 316 317
2019 60.3 6,237 1,441 5,128 314 309
Variation
1990-2019
+6 % +2 % +36 % -4 % +34 % -21 %

International comparisons

In the rankings published by the International Energy Agency, Italy appears among the top ten countries in the world for several of the indicators:

The Pan-European Pipeline (red) and it's connection to the Transalpine Pipeline (blue).
The Pan-European Pipeline (red) and it's connection to the Transalpine Pipeline (blue).
Italy's position in the world rankings
Energy source Indicator Rank Year Quantity Unity % world
Crude oil[16] Net import 8th 2019 65 Mt 3.1 %
Natural gas[17] Net import 4th 2020 66 Mds m³ 6.8 %
Electricity[18] Net import 2nd 2019 38 TWh 11.4 %
Electricity production by sources[19] Natural gas 10th 2019 142 TWh 2.2 %
Wind power Electrical production[20] 14th 2020 18.7 TWh 1.2 %
Power installed[21] 10th 2019 10.7 GW 1.7 %
Photovoltaic solar energy[22] Electrical production 6th 2019 24 TWh 3.5 %
Power installed 6th 2019 20.9 GW 3.5 %
% PV/elec. 1st 2019 8.1 %
Biomass[20] Electrical production 8th 2019 17.2 TWh 3.2 %
Geothermal[20] Electrical production 6th 2019 6.07 TWh 6.7 %

Energy resources

Reserves

Italy's fossil fuel reserves are modest, but its renewable energy potential is significant, especially for hydro and solar.

Italy benefits from significant hydroelectric potential, particularly in the Alps, but it is already almost fully exploited; During the first half of the 20th century, hydroelectricity covered almost all of the country's electricity needs.

The map of solar radiation in Italy reveals high potentials in southern Italy, particularly in Sicily and Sardinia.

National energy production

In 2018, the country's energy production reached 43.42 Mtoe, up 10.9% compared to 2017, broken down into:[24]

All of these resources covered only 25.2% of the country's needs.[24]

Geothermal power plant in Larderello, Tuscany
Geothermal power plant in Larderello, Tuscany
Primary energy production in Italy by source (PJ)
Source 1990 % 2000 % 2010 % 2015 2020 % 2020 var.
2020/1990
Coal 12 1.1 0,1 0.01 2,7 0.2 2,2 0 0 % -100 %
Oil 187 17.6 196 16.7 235 17.0 242 241 16.4 % +29 %
Natural gas 587 55.4 570 48.4 288 20.9 232 146 9.9 % -75 %
Total fossil fuels 786 74.1 767 65.0 526 38.1 477 387 26.3 % -51 %
Hydraulic 114 10.7 159 13.5 184 13.3 164 168 11.4 % +48 %
Geoth., solar, wind 125 11.8 181 15.3 245 17.8 373 391 26.6 % +214 %
Biomass-waste 36 3.4 73 6.2 426 30.9 498 526 35.7 % +1381 %
Total renewable energy 274 25.9 413 35.0 856 61.9 1,035 1,086 73.7 % +296 %
Total 1,060 100 1,180 100 1,382 100 1,511 1,473 100 % +39 %
Source of data: International Energy Agency[14]

Imported energy

Italy depends on its imports for a very high share of its energy needs: in 2018, its energy imports reached 158.51 Mtoe against 163.46 Mtoe in 2017; after deducting 31.09 Mtoe of exports (mainly petroleum products), net imports represented 74.0% of the country's total energy consumption, while its national production only covered 25.2% of his needs.[24]

Oil is the main imported energy: in 2018, net imports of oil and oil products reached 51.97 Mt, i.e. 88.7% of the country's domestic oil consumption.[24] The 11 refineries in operation in 2018 have a refining capacity of 83.7 Mt/year, down 2.7% compared to 2017. The Venice biorefinery, the world's first refinery converted to vegetable sources in 2014, has a biodiesel production capacity of 360,000 tonnes /year from used cooking oils and palm oil; this capacity will be increased to 420,000 tonnes/year in 2021, to which will be added the Gela biorefinery (600,000 tonnes/year).[25]

Natural gas is the second most imported energy: in 2018, net imports of natural gas reached 53.27 Mtoe, or 92.9% of the country's gas consumption.[24]

Italy also imported 9.23 Mtoe of coal in 2018, mainly for power plants, coke and heat production plants.[24]

Even electricity is largely imported: 9.66 Mtoe in 2018,[24] or 13% of total gross electricity supply.

Infrastructure

Refineries

Refinery in Sarroch, Sardinia
Refinery in Sarroch, Sardinia

The Priolo Gargallo complex, in Sicily, includes 2 refineries linked by pipelines: ISAB NORD and ISAB SUD, belonging to the Russian company Lukoil, with a total capacity of 16 Mt/year.[26]

The Sarroch refinery in Sardinia (capacity: 15 Mt/year), i.e. more than 20% of the country's refining capacity, belongs to SARAS (Società Anonima Raffinerie Sarde).[27]

In May 2018, the Algerian company Sonatrach bought from Esso (a 100% subsidiary of Exxon Mobil) the Augusta refinery in Sicily (capacity: 9.5 Mt/year), three oil terminals located in Augusta, Naples and Palermo and their associated pipeline systems.[28]

The refineries of Porto Marghera, in Veneto, and Gela, in Sicily, have been converted into bio-refineries using as raw materials vegetable oils, waste (frying oil, fats, urban waste), algae, etc. ( 230,000 tonnes/year since 2014 in Porto Marghera, 750,000 tonnes/year since 2019 in Gela).[29].

Gas pipelines

Trans Adriatic Pipeline

Russian gas is transported to Italy via the Yamal–Europe pipeline, then the Trans Austria Gas Pipeline.

The Trans-Mediterranean Pipeline (or Enrico Mattei gas pipeline) transports gas from Algeria. Starting from Hassi R'Mel, it covers 550 km in Algerian territory, then 370 km in Tunisia, crosses the Mediterranean Sea by an underwater section of 155 km, then Sicily (340 km), the Strait of Messina, before going up the entire Italian peninsula, to join the gas network near Bologna.

The Greenstream pipeline, commissioned in 2004, the longest underwater gas pipeline in the Mediterranean Sea, connects western Libya to Sicily.

The Transitgas Pipeline, inaugurated in 2008, connects the gas market in northwestern Europe with Italy.[30]

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline project is a gas pipeline project transporting natural gas from the Caspian Sea (Azerbaijan) to the European market. It leaves from the Greek-Turkish border and crosses Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea to arrive in Italy.[31] Its construction was completed in October 2020 and its operation should begin in mid-November.[32]

Energy consumption

Energy consumption by source, Italy
Energy consumption by source, Italy

From primary energy consumed to final energy consumed

Energy balance 2019[14]
Resources PJ % Use PJ %
Primary energy production 1,441 23.1 % Energy branch consumption and losses 1,248 20.0 %
Imports 6,360 102.0 % Final non-energy consumption 293 4.7 %
Exports -1,231 -19.7 % Final energy consumption 4,635 74.3 %
Holds -277 -4.4 % Statistical discrepancies 61 1.0 %
Inventory change -55 -0.9 %
Total resources 6,237 100 % Total uses 6,237 100 %
Energy branch consumption detail Breakdown of final energy consumption
Translation losses 845 68 % Industry 1,048 22.6 %
Own consumption 322 26 % Transportation 1,501 32.4 %
Transmission/distribution losses 81 6 % Residential 1,300 28.0 %
Tertiary 661 14.3 %
Agriculture + fishing 123 2.7 %

Primary energy consumption

The total of primary resources produced in Italy or imported in 2018 was 172.3 Mtoe. Primary energy consumption is massively dominated by fossil fuels: 73.9% (coal: 5.4%; oil: 34.5%; natural gas: 34.0%); renewable energies cover only 20.5% of needs, and the electricity import balance provides the remaining 5.6%.[24] Italian primary energy consumption per capita in 2019 was 103.4 GJ, 31% higher than the world average (79.1 GJ).[15]

Electrical renewable energies cover 34.5% of gross domestic electricity consumption;[33] thermal renewable energies provide 10.9 Mtoe, including 7.9 Mtoe from biomass and 2.6 Mtoe from heat pumps; biofuels provide 1.25 Mtoe (biodiesel).[34]

Hydroelectric power plant in Carona, Lombardy
Hydroelectric power plant in Carona, Lombardy
Primary energy consumption in Italy by source (PJ)
Source 1990 % 2000 % 2010 % 2015 2020 % 2020 var.
2020/1990
Coal 613 10.0 526 7.3 572 7.9 515 199 3.4 % -68 %
Oil 3,488 56.8 3,636 50.6 2,734 37.6 2,242 1,842 31.9 % -47 %
Natural gas 1,633 26.6 2,426 33.8 2,849 39.2 2,315 2,448 42.4 % +50 %
Total fossil fuels 5,734 93.4 6,588 91.7 6,155 84.6 5,072 4,490 77.7 % -22 %
Hydraulic 114 1.9 159 2.2 184 2.5 164 168 2.9 % +48 %
Geoth., solar, wind 125 2.0 181 2.5 245 3.4 373 391 6.8 % +214 %
Biomass-waste 39 0.6 94 1.3 530 7.3 611 612 10.6 % +1,453 %
Total renewable energy 278 4.5 434 6.0 959 13.2 1,148 1,171 20.3 % +321 %
Electricity tax balance 125 2.0 160 2.2 159 2.2 167 116 2.0 % -7 %
Total 6,136 100 7,182 100 7,274 100 6,388 5,777 100 % -6 %
Source of data: International Energy Agency[14]

Final energy consumption

Breakdown by source

Final energy consumption (after refining, transformation into electricity or district heating, transport, etc.) was 127.3 Mtoe in 2018, up 1.5% compared to 2017. It was divided into 73, 2% fossil fuels (1.7% coal, 41.8% oil, 29.7% natural gas), 7.0% thermal renewable energies and 19.8% electricity.[35] The production of electricity was split into 60.3% from fossil fuels and 39.7% from renewables; in total, final consumption was therefore 85% fossil fuel and 15% renewable.[36]

Final energy consumption changed as follows:

Final energy consumption in Italy by source (PJ)
Source 1990 % 2000 % 2010 % 2015 2019 % 2019 var.
2019/1990
Coal 149 3.1 112 2.1 79 1.4 40 34 0.7 % -78 %
Oil products 2,573 53.5 2,608 48.4 2,279 40.7 1,974 1,896 38.5 % -26 %
Natural gas 1,273 26.4 1,616 30.0 1,636 29.2 1,405 1,410 28.6 % +11 %
Total fossil fuels 3,995 83.0 4,336 80.4 3,994 71.3 3,419 3,340 67.8 % -16 %
Solar thermal 9 0.2 9 0.2 11 0.2 13 15 0.3 % +75 %
Biomass-waste 36 0.8 66 1.2 378 6.7 349 349 7.1 % +866 %
Electricity 773 16.1 983 18.2 1,078 19.2 1,035 1,051 21.3 % +36 %
District heating 0 0 140 2.5 161 174 3.5 % ns
Total 4,813 100 5,394 100 5,600 100 4,976 4,929 100 % +2 %
Source of data : International Energy Agency[14]

The share of renewable energies evolved as follows:

Wind power plant in San Giorgio La Molara, Campania
Wind power plant in San Giorgio La Molara, Campania
Gross final consumption of renewable energy in Italy[37] (Mtep)
Sector 2010 2015 2016 2017 variation %
2017/2010
Electrical sector 5.92 9.43 9.50 9.73 +64 %
Hydraulic (corrected)* 3.73 3.95 3.97 3.96 +6 %
Wind (corrected)* 0.76 1.32 1.42 1.48 +95 %
Solar 0.16 1.97 1.90 2.10 +1,212 %
Geothermal 0.46 0.53 0.54 0.53 +15 %
Bioenergy** 0.81 1.67 1.67 1.66 +105 %
Thermal sector 10.02 10.69 10.54 11.21 +12 %
Geothermal 0.14 0.13 0.14 0.15 +7 %
Solar thermal 0.13 0.19 0.20 0.21 +62 %
Bioenergy** 7.65 7.78 7.59 8.20 +7 %
Heat pumps*** 2.09 2.58 2.61 2.65 +27 %
Transport sector 1.42 1.16 1.04 1.06 -25 %
Total renewable energies 17.36 21.29 21.08 22.00 +27 %
Share of gross final consumption 13.0 % 17.5 % 17.4 % 18.3 %
* production corrected for the effects of variations in precipitation (hydro) and wind (wind), according to the rules of Directive 2009/28/EC.
**including renewable share of urban waste.
*** renewable share

Breakdown by sector

The breakdown of final energy consumption by use was as follows:[35]

Note: the International Energy Agency does not take into account international bunkers, which are not domestic consumption.

The breakdown by sector of final energy consumption changed as follows:

Final energy consumption in Italy by sector (PJ)
Sector 1990 % 2000 % 2010 % 2015 2019 % 2019 var.
2019/1990
Industry 1,427 29.7 1,602 29.7 1,262 22.5 1,046 1,048 21.3 % -27 %
Transportation 1,369 28.5 1,662 30.8 1,615 28.8 1,523 1,501 30.5 % +10 %
Residential 1,091 22.7 1,155 21.4 1,482 26.5 1,360 1,300 26.4 % +19 %
Tertiary 342 7.1 483 9.0 711 12.7 644 661 13.4 % +93 %
Agriculture 122 2.5 122 2.3 114 2.0 112 114 2.3 % -6 %
Fishing 8 0.2 11 0.2 9 0.2 8 9 0.2 % +5 %
Unspecified 16 0.3 7 0.1 7 0.1 6 3 0.1 % -81 %
Non-energy uses (chemistry) 436 9.1 353 6.5 400 7.1 277 293 5.9 % -33 %
Total 4,813 100 5,394 100 5,600 100 4,976 4,929 100 % +2 %
Source of data : International Energy Agency[14]

Electricity

Electricity production in Italy by source (left), and production of renewable electricity in Italy by source (right)

Main article: Electricity sector in Italy

See also: Renewable energy in Italy § Electricity sector

In 2014 Italy consumed 291.083 TWh (4,790 kWh/person) in electricity, consumption in household were 1057 kWh/person.[9] Italy is a net importer of electricity: the country imported 46,747.5 GWh and exported 3,031.1 GWh in 2014. Gross production in 2014 was 279.8 TWh. The main power sources are natural gas and hydroelectricity.[9]

Italy has no nuclear power since it was banished in 1987 by referendum. Italy was the first country to exploit geothermal energy to produce electricity.[8] The first Italian geothermal power plant was built in Tuscany, which is where all currently active geothermal plants in Italy are located. In 2014 the geothermal production was 5.92 TWh.[9]

Gross electricity production in Italy in 2014 by sources
Gross electricity production in Italy in 2014 by sources
Italian gross electricity production by sources in 2014 [TWh] [9]
Hydroelectric 60.256 21.5%
Thermal 176.171 -
of which by Geothermal 5.919 2.1%
of which by Natural Gas 93.637 33.5%
of which by Coal 43.455 15.5%
of which by Oil 4.764 1.7%
of which by Biomass 18.732 6.7%
Wind 15.178 5.4%
Solar 22.306 8.0%

District heating

The cogeneration plant of Moncalieri, which supplies heat to the district heating network of the metropolitan area of Turin[38]
The cogeneration plant of Moncalieri, which supplies heat to the district heating network of the metropolitan area of Turin[38]

District heating is widespread in central, eastern and northern Europe,[39] but since the early 1970s it has also begun to spread to Italy.[40] The first Italian city to adopt a district heating network was Brescia in 1972,[41] followed in 1982 by Turin, which since 2011 has the largest city district heating network in Italy and one of the largest in Europe,[42][43] while the Italian region that has the largest extension of the district heating network is Lombardy.[44]

The heat produced by cogeneration plants (94%) as well as by boiler rooms (6%) and distributed by district heating represented 174 PJ in 2019, or 3.5% of the country's final energy consumption, intended for 71% to industry, 21% to the residential sector and 7% to the tertiary sector.[14] It was produced in 2020 from coal for 2.7%, oil for 12.9%, natural gas for 63.1%, biomass for 15.6%, waste for 5.3% and geothermal energy for 0.4%. Production increased by 19% between 2005 and 2020.[20] Italy's heat production reached 231 PJ in 2019, i.e. 1.5% of the world total (10th in the world).[20]

Emissions

Development of CO2 emissions in Italy
Development of CO2 emissions in Italy

Italy's CO2 emissions reached 5.13 tonnes per capita in 2019, 17% higher than the world average (4.39 t/inhab).[15]

Evolution of energy-related CO2 emissions
1971 1990 2018 var.
2018/1971
var.
2018/1990
Emissions[45] (Mt CO2) 289.4 389.4 317.1 +9.6 % -18.6 %
Emissions/capita[45] (t CO2) 5.35 6.87 5.25 -1.9 % -23.6 %
Source : International Energy Agency

The International Energy Agency also provides the emissions for 2019: 302.8 MtCO2, down 4.5% compared to 2018h 1; per capita: 5.02 tCO2.[45]

Energy-related CO2 emissions in Italy experienced strong growth until 2005: 456.4 Mt, i.e. +58% in 34 years, then fell to 428.9 Mt in 2008, collapsed in 2009 due to the Great Recession: -10.5% and continued to decline thereafter.[45]

Per capita, Italy emitted 14.5% less than the European Union average (6.14 t/cap) in 2018.[45]

Breakdown by fuel of energy-related CO2 emissions
Combustible 1971
Mt CO2
1990
Mt CO2
2018
Mt CO2
% var.
2018/1990
Coal[45] 32.6 56.6 34.3 11 % -39.4 %
Oil[45] 232.7 244.8 140.2 44 % -42.7 %
Natural gas[45] 24.1 87.1 137.6 43 % +58 %
Source : International Energy Agency
Energy-related CO2 emissions by consumption sector*
2018 emissions sector share Emissions/capita
Sector Million tons CO2 % tons CO2/hab.
Energy sector excluding elect. 18.1 6 % 0.30
Industry and building 71.3 22 % 1.18
Transport 103.6 33 % 1.72
of which road transport 94.9 30 % 1.57
Residential 67.0 21 % 1.11
Tertiary 47.7 15 % 0.79
Total 317.1 100 % 5.25
Source : International Energy Agency[45]
* after re-allocation of emissions from electricity and heat generation to consumption sectors.

See also

References

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  2. ^ data from Terna - Italian electric grid
  3. ^ a b c "Il rapporto Comuni Rinnovabili 2015". Comuni Rinnovabili (in Italian). Legambiente. 18 May 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2016.
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