Ed’s note: Enel on the complex weaknesses of our energy system

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In collaboration with the consultancy European House – Ambrosetti, the Italian utility Enel just released a study that analyses the European Union’s and Italy’s delay in achieving the decarbonisation goals set for 2030.

In addition, the study examines the complex European and Italian governance system for the energy transition and identifies three current weaknesses regarding the European energy system and five regarding the Italian one. According to Enel and European House – Ambrosetti, these weaknesses need to be overcome in order to reach the EU Commission’s goals for a green future.

The three main weaknesses regarding energy transition governance in Europe are:

  • Energy is a shared competence between Member States and the EU. Which makes me think that since not all member states are on the same level of progress when it comes to digitalisation, electrification and green power generation, the race to 2030 is not happening on an equal basis. Greece (or should I say Greek households and small businesses), for example, is already paying the price of decarbonisation and that is 121,72 euros per MWh according to the Greek media. That is a very high price for a crisis and pandemic stricken country, in case you are wondering.
  • A growing need to implement a new “indirect” enforcement system. I can’t help but think that this is going to be one of those ‘easier said than done’ situations… It is indeed a weakness since the – granted, much needed – changes suggested by the EU Commission for the energy sector, have already left a mark (not always positive) in the collective minds of the various people of the EU.
  • It is necessary to strengthen the new mechanism for managing green objectives. This is again one of those ‘water is wet’ situations, that everybody agrees on. The how we are going to achieve it, however, is the million-dollar question and the reason why this is a weakness as sustained by the study.

The study does offer proposals to solve these issues, which include the strengthening of cooperation in energy transition governance and the adoption of a regional approach to favour European market integration. This indeed not only makes sense, but it is, in my opinion, a sine qua non situation.

In relation to the European Union’s external scope, the study proposes the encouragement of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) at an international level and the promotion of more effective mechanisms to ensure that Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) are consistent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. This suggestion also makes sense, as long as it takes into consideration the peculiarities and individualities of all member states.

When it comes to Italy, the weaknesses, according to the study, include five factors:

  • the fragmented responsibilities among the various stakeholders at different levels.
  • the non-uniform local regulations and local application of national regulations.
  • the weak involvement and commitment of institutions and local communities eroding social acceptability.
  • the related inefficiencies in the role of technical-administrative public bodies.
  • the fragmented drafting of sectoral policies.

Now, is it me, or we could exchange Italy for any southern European country in this study and still have more or less the same weaknesses when it comes to governance and the energy transition?

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The potential solutions proposed by the study could also be applied to the majority of the Southern European countries as well, I believe. Simplification of authorization procedures for renewable energy plants, promotion of activities that favour energy efficiency, use of a uniformed and standardised interaction mechanism for local authorities, DSOs (Distribution System Operators) and CPOs (charge point operators) and encouragement of the electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

We can’t wait to see you in Milan

Enlit Europe will bring the energy community together during the live event in Milan (30 November – 2 December 2021). Register here

In addition, and to be honest, the most forward-thinking and interesting suggestion in the study (not that the others were not of course), is the one that proposes the promotion of the full integration of industrial districts and local level business clusters, innovation ecosystems and energy communities with the national distribution network. This would take time, effort, money and above all, the consent of the people involved. Therefore, it does seem like a utopia at first, like the one described by Thomas Moore in 1516. If achieved, however, it would make a big difference.

When it comes to the slightly disappointing findings of the study, they do not come as a surprise, unfortunately. At the current pace, Europe will reach the new target of 55% reduction of greenhouse gases in 2051, with a delay of 21 years. For what regards the other new targets set for renewables (40%) and energy efficiency (+36%), Europe, according to the study, is lagging behind there too, as at the current rate they would be achieved in 2043 and 2053 respectively.

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As for Italy, the National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP) has yet to be revised in light of the “Fit for 55” package. The new 2030 goals for Italy are likely to be a 43% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, a 37.9% contribution from renewable energy and an increase in energy efficiency of 46.4%. In evaluating Italy’s current performance in achieving these goals, an average delay of 29 years emerges, compared to 19 in Europe, with a delay of 24 years for renewable energy.

If you wish to know more about the topics of governance and the green energy transition, both on a European and Italian level, you are in luck. Enlit Europe 2021 will cover both subjects extensively during the live event in Milan (30 November – 2 December). Hurry and save yourself a spot (registrations already online here). I know I will. How about you?

Cheers,
Areti Ntaradimou
Editor, Smart Energy International


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