Energy crisis, what role do renewables play?

Clean energy is essential for pursuing energy security and independence. And to achieve the climate goals we have set ourselves. There is no going back and for the experts this crisis, on the contrary, will mark the acceleration of renewables

Regasifiers, methane pipelines and even nuclear power. With the expensive bills, the war in Ukraine and Italy to the vote, the issue and its possible solutions are at the center of the debate. But are we talking about renewables? Or does yet another emergency risk slowing down the energy transition?

Faced with an energy crisis that promises to be long-term, Italy must make strategic choices. Europe is clear about this and with the “RepowerEU” package has raised the bar by asking to increase the share of renewables from 40 to 45% by 2030. Objective: to reduce dependence on Russian gas by two thirds by the end of 2022, bringing it to zero by 2030. In short, the war in Ukraine and the high bills make it necessary to find solutions to get out of dependence on gas, starting with the Russian one, saving families and businesses from the surge in prices. But theCan a response to the energy crisis go hand in hand with the fight against the climate crisis?

For Gianni Silvestrini, director of the Kyoto Club, “the crisis dictated by the very high gas prices should push renewables because, obviously, much cheaper with these gas prices. So much so that some countries have decided to raise the bar: Germany, for example, after the aggression against Ukraine, has decided to aim for 100% renewable electricity by 2035. Then, of course, in the short term there are other solutions that are being proposed: regasifiers, upgrading of gas pipelines … things that can in part also be accepted. But the strange thing is that in Italy little is said about the contribution that renewables and energy efficiency can make to reduce the demand for Russian gas and gas in general and be consistent with climate objectives “.

Energy operators have already expressed their opinion on this point: they are able to install 60 GW of renewables in 3 years, as long as the authorization procedures are speeded up as much as possible. To understand the value of these numbers, 60 GW would replace 15 billion cubic meters of methane and produce 80 billion kilowatt hours per year. And it is estimated that in Europe for every 1% increase in energy savings, fossil gas imports are reduced by 2.6%.

The energy crisis we are experiencing in Europe, also for Agostino Re Rebaudengo, president of Elettricità Futura, “it will contribute, I am sure, to a greater development of renewable energies because only in this way can we become more independent and achieve the already defined decarbonisation goals. If, on the contrary, there were a slowdown compared to the Repower Eu, we would certainly experience a situation of enormous crisis: first, because the energy we import costs us and will cost us too much; second, because we would lose the opportunity to develop industrial supply chains on new renewable technologies that will lead to half a million new jobs and economic benefits of over 300 billion between now and 2030 ”.

Italy to the vote: the space of renewables in the programs

The political choice is crucial: if the government wanted, it could decide to speed up the authorization procedures as much as possible and give the green light to renewables. But with Italy in the vote, and the energy emergency leaping to the top of the political agenda, what space and prospects do the various coalitions in the field dedicate to clean energy?

“At this moment, and perhaps for the first time in the history of this country, all political parties talk about renewables. This is a positive thing for the sector and also from a cultural point of view – says to AdnKronos Vito Zongoli, director of the board of Anie Rinnovabili and managing director of Senec Italia – What is essential to do is to try not to demonize measures that have been effective, such as the superbonus. These are measures that clearly need to be improved, a fine job must be done to eliminate all the problems we have seen but the constant changes in legislation must be avoided. If we think of the superbonus, the rules have been changed 16-17 times in a year. There is a need for continuity. In the election campaign each party has its say, this is normal, but it is essential, once you get to the government, that everyone sits at a table, especially with associations that must be listened to because they are close to people and businesses, and that all work together in a direction that is unique.

For Re Rebaudengo, “all the parties, and as Elettricità Futura we did not fail to send our proposals, have included the development of renewable energies in their programs as well as all the government and opposition parties in our last assembly last June. confirmed this desire for development of the sector. Certainly, the next government will be called to make this development and these objectives we have effective and therefore to a very important simplification of the rules because otherwise we will not be able to become more independent and reach 84% in 2030 of renewable electricity on the total energy consumed “.

More critical Silvestrini: “In reality, if we witness the various debates, unfortunately the issue of renewables is very underpowered: there is a lot of talk about regasifiers, upgrading gas pipelines … but few people talk about pushing the accelerator on renewables, when instead it should be a central theme in the current situation “.

The return of nuclear power?

Instead, there is much talk of nuclear power. A viable way? Not according to experts, and it would not be the answer to the crisis we are experiencing anyway. For Zongoli “in some cases we should talk about it a little less because this could divert attention from what is the real goal and because at this moment talking about nuclear power is a bit anachronistic. Even if in Italy we wanted to talk about nuclear power, we it would take 10-15 years to build the first plants and put them into operation. The times for renewables are much faster and can give an immediate response to today’s need “.

In short, realistically, there are no times to include nuclear power in a useful debate. Also for Silvestrini: “even if a consensus were to be obtained on the issue, before 2035 we would not see a single kWh of nuclear power in Italy. Much wiser would be to focus decisively on renewables that allow us to eliminate dependence on Russian gas,” reduce CO2 emissions and be consistent with the climate objective “.

by Stefania Marignetti