Italy unveiled its new national energy strategy, including a policy to end the use of coal for electricity generation by 2025. The strategy, announced on November 10th at the National Energy Strategy in Rome, aims to phase out all coal use for electricity by 2025, and increase the deployment of renewables in its place. It specifies that by 2030 the country is aiming to generate 55% of all electricity with renewables, an increase of more than 20% compared to 2015. This is a concrete step towards its larger goal of halting all domestic coal use by 2025, a proposal announced in late October by the country’s Economic Development Minister, Carlo Calenda So far, big energy companies are following suit. Italy’s largest utility company, Enel, has declared that it will stop investments in any new coal-fired power plants.
This is a step in the right direction for Europe, as the EU announced the same day its plans to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles by 30 percent by 2030. Naming the Clean Mobility Plan the focus of the policy, to encourage car manufacturers to increase production of clean cars by mandating that vehicles gradually reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. By 2025 cars will be mandated to emit 15% less CO2 than 2021 levels, and 30% by 2030. In order to achieve this, manufacturing costs are projected to increase the final cost of cars by about 1,000 euros. However, the EU Commission noted that maintenance and fuel savings throughout the years will greatly outweigh the initial price increase. Italy is already on its way to meeting this new goal, as it has committed to reach 21% renewables in the transportation sector by 2030, compared to just 6.4% in 2015. As of early 2017, the country had already met its 2020 renewable energy goals in the heating & cooling and electricity sectors, but it is still working to meet its 2020 targets in the transportation sector.
Both the electricity and transport policies are good news for Italy, a country that is still battling very large air pollution problems. Heavy smog in both small and large cities throughout the country is due to a combination of carbon emissions and lack of rainfall. In fact, the country has the most pollution related deaths in Europe. Given that the country banned the use of nuclear fuel in the 80s, and is heavily dependent on oil and gas imports. Italy needs to continue working towards the development of domestically produced clean energy resources. To this end, Italy has committed to doubling its investment in R&D projects and in clean energy, to $517 million by 2021, compared to 2013 levels.
If Italy is able to follow through on it’s complete coal phase out, it will join the UK, Canada and France as the fourth country in the world to commit to a future coal-free existence.