A country that still depends heavily on foreign hydrocarbons, but with a great energy resource yet to be harnessed: energy efficiency. While renewables are gaining ground, energy is still largely wasted in Italy: Italians waste 8 billion euros per year, “the equivalent to a budget law”. The energy portrait of Italy outlined in the last energy safety report drawn up by the National council of industrial engineers and Censis is thought-provoking.

This document reminds us that we are still “in deep oil“: Italians’ dependence on imported fossil fuels is equal to 86.8%, compared to the European average of 54%. Italians pay an annual oil bill of 60 billion euros and their energy requirements are growing. The bright side is the awareness of the need to change sources, focusing on cleaner ones: according to the study, almost 60% of Italians think so. And the weight of renewables is increasing, too. The gross production from these sources grew by 3% and the total consumption of renewable sources increased by 10% in the 2003-2007 five year period. Therefore, the importation of clean energy has increased, while the contribution of renewables to the total national production remains “marginal” and its significance is limited to electricity (more than 14% of electricity production, of which 2/3 from the hydroelectric industry).

Still, the most important and most available source, which is the main conclusion of the study, is energy efficiency. As mentioned above, according to the study, 8 billion Euros are wasted every year due to the inefficiency of the Italian energy system. “A tax – underlines Giuseppe Jogna, president of the National council of industrial engineers – that nobody wanted, but we all paid, and which may be dramatically reduced if we adopted accurate procedures for the design, test, inspection and energy certification of buildings. Up until now these measures were opposed by most people due to the costs they would imply. But now, faced with such a high charge that cleans citizens out every year, even worse than a budget law, will politicians realize that it is no longer possible to keep putting off regulations that would be useful for the whole Country?”

In order to support the idea that energy saving is a real resource to harness in Italy, and even the most profitable, the report mentions a study carried out by Enea on this matter which we had better keep in mind. The institution assumed an operation on 35% of the existing building stock made up of office districts and schools with the purpose to adapt them so as to achieve energy balance (that is to say, making them zero-energy consumption buildings): according to the estimates, against an investment of 8 billion Euros, we would save 450 billion euros on oil bills every year, 150 thousand new jobs would be created during the construction stage alone and the operation would have a positive impact of about 28 billion euros on economy.

These figures speak for themselves and should be pointed out to those who believe that the way to energy safety is through dangerous and expensive solutions, whose efficacy would be seen too late in time. Just for a change, we are referring to the inexplicable choice of going back to nuclear.

Report – abstract (pdf)

Full report (pdf)