Sorrento, Italy - Photo Credit - kirk&mimi & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the forty-ninth edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Italy ranks sixteenth highest in Yale University’s newly published Environmental Performance Index (EPI) for 2018. This is a slight improvement on its EPI baseline ranking of 17th place. The baseline ranking is typically calculated by applying the same set of metrics to the country’s historic performance data from 10 years ago.
Italy has significantly improved its ‘Climate and Energy’ sub-category ranking during this time from its baseline of 73rd versus its current ranking of 28th. Further analysis tells us that improvements in its N2O (nitrous oxide) emissions intensity rating has driven this change. Last week, in my article on Belgium, I highlighted that typically N2O emissions come from agricultural biomass burning, industrial production, and livestock management.
Paris Agreement Targets
As part of Italy’s Paris Agreement targets, the country has agreed to reduce its Greenhouse Gas (GhG) emissions by at least 33% of 1990 levels, by 2030. This was agreed as part of the EU’s overall target to reduce emissions by 40% of 1990 levels by 2030.
The EU Climate Leaderboard produced by Carbon Market Watch and Transport & Environment ranks Italy 20th out of the EU countries for its position towards negotiating the EU’s Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR). Unlike Belgium which was featured last week, Italy is one of the EU countries advocating for a 2020/ 2021 emissions reduction starting point, as opposed to the EU commission’s proposal to use the average of 2016 – 2018 levels. This would result in lower overall emissions reductions targets.
Critics of this strategy, such as the EU Climate Leaderboard, worry that using a 2020/2021 starting point would mean EU countries who failed to meet their 2020 emissions reduction targets would not be penalised. Also, this proposed starting point would not mirror actual emissions, in contrast to the starting point recommended by the commission (average 2016 – 2018).
According to latest energy statistics published by Istat, 33% of electricity generated in Italy in 2015 was from renewable energy sources. This represents a 4% decline compared with a peak of 37% of the electricity mix in 2014, largely due to a significant decrease in hydroelectricity generation year-on-year. Despite this decline in recent years, overall the renewables share of the electricity generation mix has grown considerably compared with a 2007 proportion of 13% of the total share.
When Italy is compared to its fellow EU member states, on average 27% of electricity generated is from renewable sources. Italy’s close neighbour Malta, on the other hand, is dragging its heels at the bottom of the list with a paltry 3% of its domestic mix being renewable.
Italy is an exporter of electricity and has recently started supplying half of Malta’s electricity needs via an interconnector. This has given Malta a leg up in reducing Co2 emissions from their ‘dirty’ electricity power stations by 50%.
From a CCUS perspective, Enel, a large Italian electricity and gas company, conducted a CCUS pilot project at its power plant (Federico II) in Brindisi between September 2010 and March 2012. Brindisi is a port town on the heel of Italy in the South East of the country.
This pilot, conducted at a coal-fired plant, was used to accumulate CCUS experience and had a C02 capture capacity of 60 tonnes per day. The capture type was post-combustion and the method used was amine solvent based absorption.
More recently, it was announced in December 2017 that Enel has been awarded $2.1m in grants from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center to help the development of green storage in the US. $850,000 will be used in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Boston to develop a micro-grid that will integrate a lithium-ion energy storage system with a solar photovoltaic facility on campus. The remainder $1.25m was rewarded to Enel to support the construction of a 2 MW/4 MWh lithium-ion energy storage system at the Acton Boxborough Regional School District.
Italy could do more to support the EU’S ESR targets to 2030. On an individual country level, Italy is above average for generation of electricity from renewables and is selling excess supply to Malta, one of the EU’s most carbon-intensive electricity generations. This has helped to considerably reduce Maltese CO2 emissions from its energy sector.
Enel has explored the possibilities of carbon capture at its Brindisi plant in the past and is now developing its micro-grid and electricity storage capabilities in the US.
Next week’s blog will take a look at how companies are capturing CO2 and sequestering it underground.
If you liked this article you might enjoy reading some recent articles in the series:
Week 48 Belgium: Umicore centrally placed to take advantage of the drive towards electric vehicles
Week 47 Enhanced Coal Bed Methane: Fire ice can help store carbon and power SpaceX's rocket engines
Week 46 Greece: Move to Renewables is a marathon, not a sprint