With more than half of the total energy consumption coming from natural gas-dependent sources, Italy rallies behind France, Germany, and the United Kingdom as the fourth largest energy consumer in Europe, which affects electricity production. A bulk of the total energy production in Italy is from thermoelectric sources driven by petroleum, natural gas, and other fossil fuels. Italy is also a significant importer of crude oil and natural gas, with 93% of Italy’s fossil fuel needs depend on imports. Italy depends majorly on Russia for its importation of natural gas.

Of the total volume of natural gasses imported by Italy in 2016, 44% were imported from Russia. Russia is in the southern part of Europe, and natural gas is transported via pipelines passing through Ukraine to Italy. Italy is also a significant exporter of petroleum products with one of the biggest oil refining centres, the second largest capacity in all of Europe. There are 13 crude oil refineries with a total capacity of about 2.1 million barrels per day.

Italian government and energy production

The government of Italy is concerned with increasing renewable energy production. Italy’s National Energy Strategy targets total energy production from renewable energy sources to surpass energy production from natural gas by the year 2020. Government renewable energy subsidies increased energy consumption from renewable energy sources to almost 18% in 2016, excluding energy production from hydroelectric sources. This was a positive climb compared to 1% energy from renewable energy sources in 2001 and 2% in 2005, excluding hydroelectricity.

The past to the present

In 2005 energy production from hydropower sources amounted to about 10% of the total energy consumption, indicating a positive increase in renewable energy production. Between 2016 to 2017, Italy’s increasing renewable energy consumption hit a setback as energy production from renewable energy sources dropped. The primary reason for this decline was little rainfall in 2016, which adversely affected hydroelectric energy production. And since a bulk of Italy’s renewable energy came from hydroelectric sources, the total energy production from renewable energy sources dropped to 33%. As a result, over three-quarters of total energy consumption was dependent on fossil fuels.

Of the 67% non-renewable energy production in 2016, 2.3 trillion cubic feet of gas was imported. A clear statement shows Italy’s 92% natural gas import-dependent supply as the second-largest importer of natural gas in Europe. Net imports of petroleum and other liquids also experienced an increase to a little over 1.2 million barrels per day. Even export of petroleum products dropped to about 0.6 million barrels per day were exported in 2016.

Chances to increase energy

To boost up renewable energy production, after renewable energy subsidy cutbacks in 2014, the Italian government approved a $10 billion subsidy in 2016 for renewable energy projects, focusing over the next 20 years on bioenergy, solar, and wind energy sources. About 8% of Italy’s electric energy was imported from France, totaling 16% of total energy imports by Italy in 2016. Photovoltaic energy is currently contributing increasingly to Italy’s total renewable energy production. It is expected to provide a bulk of renewable energy more than hydroelectric power by 2030.