The parties have many ideas about renewables, but they are not always very clear

The parties have many ideas about renewables, but they are not always very clear

The parties have many ideas about renewables

With the European Commission's plan to disengage from Russian gas, RePower Eu, Italy has committed to installing 85 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy by 2030, equal to 72% of its electricity production. We are currently standing at 33 GW. But after the blaze of the last decade, "in the last seven years only six have been installed, an average of 0.85 GW per year," observes Possible, led by Beatrice Brignone. The pace is definitely insufficient, the goal at risk. To achieve this, 10 GW of renewables per year would be needed. But there is some reason to be optimistic. First of all, the cost, which fell beyond analysts' expectations. But not only.

In its report Scacco alle Rinnovabili, Legambiente writes that, if we consider wind power and photovoltaics, at the end of 2020 the requests for connection to the national electricity grid and high voltage transmission amounted to about 95 GW, to which are added further 10 GW of requests to local medium and low voltage energy distributors, for a total of 2,658 applications.

Based on the trend of the authorizations issued up to May 2022, Terna (the operator of the national electricity grid) estimates that an increase in installed power of 5.1 GW is expected by December, two and a half times more than in 2020 and 2021.

The bottleneck for renewables in Italy are permissions. The game sees environmentalists and landscape architects opposed, often assimilated in the public discourse but profoundly different in the approach. On the one hand there are those who do not ignore the aesthetic protection of the Italian heritage; on the other hand, those who put the achievement of climate goals in the foreground.

At the Ministry of Ecological Transition (Mite) the question is known: the Superintendencies (belonging to the Ministry of Cultural Heritage) are able to block any project with a stroke of the pen. Not without some reason: in a country like Italy, violated by building abuses of all kinds - just think of the coastal areas or the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento - bureaucracies for decades have represented the last barrier against world-class havoc. Shaking off the burden of Byzantine procedures built to keep the crafty at bay is not easy.

Private individuals are frightened by costs and by the process, small and medium-sized enterprises complain of such complex procedures that they require the ad hoc recruitment of highly specialized personnel. Not only. Renewables have proven to be a millionaire business, attracting varied appetites, including those of tied organized crime. Scams at the beginning of the last decade were the order of the day: the guard must remain high.

But, despite the difficulties, it is a game that cannot be dismissed. The next five years will be decisive. The parties have the task of solving the puzzle. That they have the ability (and the intention) to do so is another matter. Also because it's not just about aesthetics. Renewable energy sources are by definition intermittent and not programmable. At night the production stops, when there is no wind the wind turbines do not turn. In order to become a substantial part of the country's energy mix, accumulators are needed that allow excess power to be collected by releasing it when needed, protecting the grid from peaks. There are solutions: but megachargers require rare earths and expose them to geopolitical risk. Alternative routes (hydroelectric reservoirs, compressed air, hydrogen) were abandoned too soon, or not yet sufficiently explored.

Finally, there is the problem of the end of life. Panels, wind turbines, batteries produce scrap and waste products that must be managed. The first generation of photovoltaics has already come to an end. What will happen in the future? Often the wrecks are shipped to Africa together with their poisons. Once again, the industrialized world uses the continent to cleanse its consciences. And, once again, the eco-mafias have smelled the deal.

Here are the positions of the parties:

+ Europe Possible Democratic Party Italian Left-Green Europe 5 Star Action Movement-Italy Viva Center-Right People's Union (Fratelli d'Italia, Lega, Forza Italia) Italexit What the electoral programs of the parties say about the environment and climate From land consumption to hydrogeological instability, from adaptation to climate change to the protection of seas and forests: here are the recipes of the sides in view of the elections on 25 September. Climate and environment finally have a leading role, but this does not mean that the proposals are entirely credible + Europe On the issue of ecological transition, + Europe has an economic approach: renewables as a strategic infrastructure. We see. “The ability of investments and reforms to guarantee a multiplier effect and efficient use are essential conditions for the competitiveness of the country and its production system - writes Emma Bonino's party -, as well as generating significant environmental and social benefits. The ecological transition can offer significant benefits in terms of reducing negative externalities, starting with those on health. A just and efficient transition must be achieved by making the market work better and using a variety of tools, encouraging innovation and the dissemination of innovative technologies, offering opportunities for industrial reconversion and training and professional updating ". However, there are no accounts to support this vision.

The party continues by proposing a reform of the fifth title of the Constitution "to allow a unified vision of the national energy strategy, restoring exclusive powers in energy matters to the state level". Support, therefore, for a European energy policy, aligned with the climate, "in order to increase the resilience of the system, build integrated networks and adopt common tools, including for gas storage".

+ uropa proposes less bureaucracy for the transition to renewables with new evaluation criteria and unification of procedures, the updating of the Pniec (National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan) to accelerate the reduction of emissions and a complete replacement of Russian gas with that of other countries, " considering the need to use this energy resource throughout the transition phase, according to the European taxonomy ”.

It is also proposed to reform the current system of incentives for energy efficiency "passing from incentives linked to technologies to reward integrated interventions that reduce the energy needs of buildings and climate-altering emissions through the most effective interventions of insulation, replacement of plants and networks, and insertion of technologies for self-production from renewable sources. At the same time, [it is proposed to] reform the incentive tools for the energy recovery and upgrading of buildings with deductions of 50-65-75-85-90-110%, to link the size of the contribution to the reduction of needs energy and the contribution to decarbonisation achieved ". The list of the main proposals is closed by the gradual elimination of subsidies harmful to the environment and "a preventive evaluation of all public investments and state aid to ensure consistency with the long-term decarbonization strategy to 2050 and the European law on climate ". Even in this case, however, the figures are not indicated. The party is in favor of the entry of nuclear power into the energy mix.

Possible The party founded by Giuseppe Civati ​​and led by Beatrice Brignone has always had an ecological soul. Renewables are at the heart of the program, with a detailed analysis that starts from the existing to arrive at proposals for the future. Possible underlines how the current rate of installation of renewables is too low. The party recognizes that they are progress has been made, but "the main criticality remains the definition of the so-called 'suitable areas', limited for now." and as large as possible, find the only real limit in the cultural and landscape constraint, are geographically distributed ".

On renewable energy communities, Brignone and Civati ​​point out that there are no implementing decrees. In addition to filling the gap, it is proposed to review the critical issues such as the sizing of the CERs and the definition of governance, which must avoid opening the way to further heavy management costs.

Stop investing “in technologies that reduce emissions in the short term but are incompatible with complete decarbonisation, such as natural gas”. No to nuclear power, incompatible with the "strong temporal and economic constraints of the ecological transition". Fer's 72% target by 2030 can be achieved with the creation of new wind farms, both onshore and offshore, "whose variability is mostly seasonal and largely complementary to that of solar photovoltaics, with peaks in the winter months in which sunlight is minimal. "It is then necessary to increase the concentration of solar thermal.

As for where to install the panels, Possibile proposes to focus on roofs and hydroelectric basins, limiting those to land that in any case can be made up of technologies such as agrivoltaic, which allows, at the same time, to cultivate the soil. "The agricultural vocation must remain primary in the productive land, encouraging the production of energy in those lands that are now uncultivated, which are moreover 10% of the national territory, at least an order of magnitude higher than those necessary for the national energy needs ".

As regards storage," the costs the economic and environmental aspects of batteries mean that these are the best solution only if used exclusively for the immediate balancing of the grid, while other technologies are more suitable for storing large quantities of energy even for long periods ". The reference is to hydroelectric pumping. The Italian capacity, according to the party, is already significant (8 TWh / year), but has steadily decreased since 2002, up to 1.5 TWh / year. It can be increased and made more efficient to reduce the need for batteries. The program then mentions other methods: thermal storage, compressed air, flywheels and hydrogen. "Each of these technologies has very specific use cases, the appropriate combination of which minimizes the need to maintain large quantities of lithium batteries".

Finally, a plan to install photovoltaic panels on public roofs : an investment of 700 million euros would be needed, to be disbursed through a fund. The coverage will be identified by the Mite “in the review of the so-called harmful environmental subsidies”. It does not go further, but it should be mentioned that the analysis of Possible, on the whole, is among the most detailed.

Democratic party "Investing in clean energy now is three times strategic. First, because it counteracts climate change by reducing CO 2 emissions. Second, because it structurally cuts the price of bills for households and businesses and creates new jobs. Third, because it strengthens our national security by reducing dependence on the import of fossil fuels from abroad ". This is the vision of the Democratic Party. No nuclear power, because "the timing and existing technologies are not compatible with a significant reduction in emissions by 2030 and do not solve the environmental problems associated with them". The use of regasification plants “appears necessary, but on the condition that they constitute bridging solutions, remaining active for a few years, and that they can be demobilized well before 2050, so as not to interrupt the prospect of the ecological transition. The territories where they will be installed must also be involved in the decisions and adequately compensated for the economic and social impact through the establishment of an ad hoc fund ".

The party wants to introduce a new" social light "contract for households with medium and low incomes: “This is an energy supply contract produced entirely from renewable sources and purchased directly from the public company Acquveri Unico. The purchase contract will last for ten years and this will make it possible to obtain very low electricity prices for the benefit of families: up to a maximum of 1,350 KWh / year per family (equal to 50% of the average consumption), the electricity will be supplied at zero cost, while prices will be controlled on the excess consumption part ".

Finally, one hundred thousand electric columns and thirty thousand fast charging points are expected by 2027, together with technologies for long energy storage motorways and the main and secondary road network. The energy transition, according to sources cited by the Democratic Party, could lead to the creation of five hundred thousand jobs. However, it does not go deeper. The program also talks about "green tax reform that promotes investments by businesses and families to protect the planet and the climate and make it economically advantageous to accelerate the environmental transition", without going into details, however.

The parties for and against the return of nuclear power in Italy The climate crisis and stellar energy prices put the atom at the center of the debate: right and third pole in favor, left and the 5 Star Movement no . But the experts urge definitive choices and attention to costs. While Italy still has to deal with its waste Italian Left-Green Europe "The Sun is the largest 'nuclear fusion reactor' already available for the production of renewable energy and annually supplies fifteen thousand times the energy of which humanity he needs ". Thus begins the section dedicated to renewable energy from the program of the Italian Left and Green Europe, which are presented together with the elections of 25 September. Significantly, the body of proposals is consistent and can be found in the very first pages of the document. The tandem of Nicola Fratoianni and Angelo Bonelli is convinced that, thanks to a mix of renewables and energy savings made possible by technology (including that linked to recycling), it is possible to do without gas and nuclear power.

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