Italy’s power mix is heavily reliant on natural gas – it accounts for about a 50% share in 2021 – mostly imported from Russia. While the ongoing war is an opportunity for Italy to change its policy to invest more in cheap renewables and simultaneously become less reliant on expensive fossil fuels imports, the country seems to be implementing a plan of replacing gas with gas. This could have implications for the long-term price of energy and creates the risk of prolonging, or even stranding, fossil fuel infrastructure.
The share of renewable energy sources in the Italian power mix has increased steadily in the last decade as Italy aims to achieve a 72% renewable share of electricity generation by 2030., In contrast, the contribution of coal has declined in recent years as Italy aims to phase out coal from its power mix by 2025.,
To be consistent with 1.5°C compatible pathways, renewable energy’s share of Italy’s power generation would need to reach between 82-87% by 2030 and 100% by 2040, compared to around 35-40% in 2019.
Natural gas would need to be phased out by 2040 at the latest, while coal would need to be phased out before 2029. Italy already targets a 2025 phase out deadline for coal. 1.5°C pathways require a decline in power sector emissions intensity of 87-89% below 2005 levels by 2030, and would reach -50 gCO₂/kWh by 2050. In the model used here this is mostly through the use of BECCS, however the sustainability of this has not been examined and other options such as Direct Air Capture (DAC) could also be used. Delaying phasing out fossil fuels in the power mix would require the country to rely more heavily later on such costly negative emissions technologies later on.