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The energy supply is fundamental for the production system and as a consequence the satisfaction of the essential needs. Moreover, it may influence the state of the environment. Therefore, to analyse the demand and supply of energy and the contribution of different energy sources is essential to assess the potential and the limits of the energy system. In a context affected by climate change and the intensification of extreme phenomena, the percentage of energy produced through renewable sources plays an important role, capable of reducing emissions of climate-altering gases.
The energy sector plays a key role for the sustainable economic development of a country. The quantity and quality of available energy sources, as well as the technology used, affect both the level of development and the impact on the environment.
In 2018, the national per capita electricity consumption (5,022.1 kWh) showed an increase of 0.7%, compared to the previous year. Although this indicator has been growing since 2015, it is still below the levels recorded before the 2008 financial and economic crisis.
In 2018, the domestic production of energy recorded a turnaround, compared to the previous years. The gross value, equal to 47.9 GWh per 10,000 inhabitants, decreased by about 2%, compared to 2017. This downturn was mainly due to the lower sunshine duration, which brought about a reduction in the thermoelectric (-7.8%) and photovoltaic (-7.1%) productions. Instead, the hydroelectric production increased by about 33%.
The European strategy for sustainable economic growth promotes decarbonisation and energy efficiency as a means to tackle climate change and the depletion of resources. Against this background, all Member States are called upon increasing the use of renewable energy sources (RES). In particular the 2009/28/EC directive establishes for Italy a target-share of energy from renewable sources in gross final energy consumption equal to 17% by 2020 (the EU target is an average increase of 20%). In 2018, this value accounted for 17.8%, higher than the established target, but lower compared to 2017 (18.3%). With regard to the electricity sector, for which the 2009/28/EC directive does not set a binding target, the share of RES in gross domestic energy consumption, in 2018, was equal to 34.3% (+3.2 percentage points, compared to the previous year). Therefore, the 2020 targets set for Italy by the 2009/28/EC Directive appear within reach. However, since the new EU 2021-2030 framework (RED II Directive) requires the RES share in EU's total gross consumption to account for 32% by 2030, the production of renewable sources in Italy will have to be raised.
In 2018, with the exception of Liguria, the northern regions, together with Toscana, Umbria and Sardegna, showed a higher per capita energy consumption than the national average. The highest values were recorded in Friuli-Venezia Giulia (8469.2 kWh per capita), Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aosta (7664.5) and Lombardia (6710.4), the lowest ones in Sicilia (3427.6), Campania (2885.8) and Calabria (2649.1).
With regard to the total gross electricity generation to population ratio, the situation was more heterogeneous: namely, the Northern Regions, due to the presence of hydroelectric plants, and the South and Islands, due to the presence of wind and photovoltaic plants, recorded the highest production, while all the Central Regions showed values below the national average. The maximum per capita amount of energy was produced in Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aoste (287.2 GWh per 10 thousand inhabitants), Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol (112.3) and Molise (93.0); the lowest values were recorded in Sicilia (32.7), Lazio (32.2), Campania (18.7) and Marche (16.0).
In 2018, the share of electricity from renewable energy sources was equal to 100% in Valle d'Aosta/Vallée d'Aosta and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. In addition, the surplus of the green electricity production was transferred to other regions by the national transport network. In Basilicata, Molise, Calabria and Abruzzo, the share of electricity from renewable energy sources exceeded 50%. At the bottom of the ranking, with values below 20%, there were Emilia-Romagna, Lazio and Liguria. In the same year, the national figure accounted for 34.3%.
In 2017, if we look at the most updated regional data on the total energy consumption (electricity, heat and transport), it emerges that most of Italian Regions show a share of gross final energy consumption from renewable sources higher than the value established by the Decree 15 March 2012 of the Ministry of economic development. At national level, the figure recorded for 2017 (17.4%, net of the RES contribution in the transport sector) was almost one percentage point higher than the previous year and was higher than the figure provided for by the same Decree for both 2018 (12.2%) and 2020 (14.3%).
In 2017, energy consumption in EU countries was on average equal to 5,466.2 kWh per capita. Ten Member States showed a decline in consumption, in particular, Estonia (-1.2%), France (-1.2%), Luxembourg (-2%), Sweden (-1.5%) and the United Kingdom (-1.7%) showed the highest downturn. On the contrary, an increase of more than 4% was observed in Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania and Malta. Italy, showing an energy consumption equal to 4,822.9 kWh per capita, ranked 19th in the decreasing ranking, below the EU average and the values registered in countries with a larger population such as France (6533.5 kWh per capita) and Germany (6278.5).
In 2017, the total gross electricity generation for the EU was equal to 64.4 GWh per 10,000 inhabitants: + 1% compared to 2016. It decreased in only eight Member States, while it grew by more than 4% in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Latvia and Malta. Italy, showing an electricity generation equal to 48.8 GWh per 10,000 inhabitants, ranked twenty-first, below the EU average. At the top of the ranking, there were Sweden and Finland, with a double production compared to the EU average, largely employed in the thriving cellulose and paper industry.
In 2017, countries showing values above 50% of the share of energy consumption from renewable sources were Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia and Portugal. Italy, showing a value equal to 34.1%, ranked eleventh, but above the EU average (30.7%).
With regard to the total energy consumption (electrical, thermal, and transport) from renewable sources, in 2017, Italy was among the few virtuous EU Countries to have reached and exceeded (18.3%) the target set by 2009/28/EC Directive for 2020 (17%). On average, EU (17.5%) was 2.5 percentage points below the 2020 target. The most recent RED II Directive establishes a higher Union's target: the use of renewable energy sources should be capable of meeting at least 32% of the Union's gross final energy consumption by 2030.