The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, held in Glasgow underlined the importance of implementing the energy transition.
The effort that the economies of the world are making to get out of the criticalities of the recession caused by the lockdown, induces a new modulation of the commitment to contain climate-altering emissions, which has now become more concrete and realistic.
At the recent COP26 in Glasgow, it became clear that the decarbonization process to which everyone aspires appears to be difficult to achieve on schedule.
Emerging economies are slow because they cannot afford a significant containment of their energy needs after an energy conversion based on the rapid abandonment of coal as a primary source.
The industrial world is changing. In the period prior to Covid, especially in Europe, the flag of contrasting Climate Change was held high through an increase in the electrification share and a substantial increase in the share of renewable energy. Then we realize that, according to the available technologies, the use of renewables and that their increase is necessary but not a sufficient condition. The problems related to storage technologies, necessary to manage the discontinuity of solar and wind production, remain unsolved.
Recently, an extensive debate has opened on green hydrogen as an energy vector to support storage from renewables. It is clear that, to become not only a promise but also a reality, hydrogen must be produced without emitting CO2, with suitable technologies and at a cost compatible with industrial production.
We are in a phase which one technology does not prevail over the others and the possibilities are all at stake. However, since we must quickly reconcile growth and lower emissions, in order for the mission to be possible, it is necessary to aim for a mix of technological solutions concretely in the field.
A very topical issue is “brown” hydrogen. That is hydrogen produced with non-green technologies, which however make use of underground CO2 sequestration systems. Likewise, the return to nuclear power was discussed again, in particular to the hypothesis of new generation plants, even if Italy is probably out of this game, after years of blocking investments in this sector due to the Referendum that decided its abandonment.
ITALY: EURO MEDITERRANEAN HUB
The energy transition is a long, complex and expensive path and for this reason, we cannot bet on a single technology but on global and national policies converging on the goal of a wise use of all energy sources and a wise balance of available technologies.
The PNRR (National resilience recovery plan) is an opportunity to define the role of the South Italy in the quadrant of the energy transition. The South produces 50% of total electricity from renewable sources, such as wind, solar, bioenergy and geothermal. Puglia, Sicily and Campania in fact record the most significant percentages of green energy production.
It is crucial to facilitate South-North energy exchanges through an adequate expansion of the national electricity grids, to be connected through cross-border interconnections, as well as connections in submarine cable.
A grid infrastructure development plan is essential to transform our country into a transit hub for energy produced from renewable sources and destined for European consumers, giving rise to a Euro-Mediterranean supergrid of clean energy.