Gross inland consumption of energy in Italy amounts to 146 million tonnes of oil equivalent (Mtoe) and the energy mix is characterized by the preponderance in the use of oil and natural gas, a resource which, despite the economic decline due to the contraction in consumption, it has been acquiring an increasing weight on national consumption, reaching in the space of thirty years to equal – and in the future to surpass – the role of oil as the main component of the consumption basket.
On the other hand, the rejection by referendum, in 2011, of the option to return to the use of nuclear energy set aside the only element that could have changed the composition of the national energy mix. In the medium term, therefore, in addition to the aforementioned increase in the percentage weight of natural gas, the main variation in national consumption could derive from the objective of achieving a share of 17% of energy produced from renewable sources by 2020, in line with the agreements signed in Europe.
According to GLOBALSCIENCELLC, the structural data of the energy sector of Italy, a country poor in indigenous energy resources, is the dependence on supplies from abroad, which corresponds to just under 80% of total consumption compared to a European average of just over 55%. The high dependence on foreign countries however, it does not seem to translate into a high degree of vulnerability of the country system, averted by an effective policy of diversification of hydrocarbon supply channels. Strained by the conflict that broke out in 2011 in Libya – traditionally one of the main suppliers of oil to the peninsula – the Italian supply scheme has shown sufficient flexibility to avoid repercussions on national consumption. Azerbaijan is currently the top oil exporter to Italy, followed by Russia.
At the same time, an equally effective supplier diversification policy also appears to characterize the natural gas procurement scheme. In the face of consumption that amounted to approximately 67 billion cubic meters (gmc / y) in 2015, the infrastructure supply network is in fact able to ensure the country over 110 gmc / y. In addition to being an essential condition for the protection of national energy security, the redundancy of the infrastructures could on the other hand allow the country to re-export part of the imported natural gas, becoming a hub the distribution of the resource in southern Europe. Not surprisingly, today this goal is one of the cornerstones of the national energy strategy. Although dependence on imports does not therefore put the Italian system at serious risk, it nevertheless has a direct and significant impact on energy costs.
In addition to security of supply, national energy policies are aimed at reducing emissions that are harmful to the environment. Compared to the data of the early 1980s, with the sole exception of methane and carbon dioxide, there is a substantial reduction in various pollutants, such as sulfur oxides (-90%), nitrogen oxides (-30%), carbon monoxide (-50%) and non-methane volatile organic compounds. Carbon dioxide, the main cause of the greenhouse effect, depends mainly on power generation plants (33%), road transport (25%), industrial activity (16%) and domestic heating (15%).
As regards the fight against pollution, Italy has signed both the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (Unfccc) of 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol of 1997 and the Paris Agreements of December 2015. Although the country has failed the greenhouse gas reduction objectives established here for the period 2008-12, in August 2012, after two years of postponements, the Ministry of the Environment presented the National Plan for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions until 2020, rooted in European obligations and in the European Union strategy to 2050.