Gas consumption reduction in the EU is ongoing: What is changing for Italy

Gas consumption reduction in the EU is ongoing: What is changing for Italy

In view of the winter, Europe is beginning to curb methane consumption on a voluntary basis for the time being. On Tuesday, August 9th, the EU regulation “Saving gas for a safe winter” came into force, on which the Energy Council reached a political agreement on July 26th. The regulation even applies retrospectively because it refers to the period from August 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023: the months in which member states are obliged to voluntarily reduce their methane consumption by 15%. Discount that may become mandatory when the state of alarm is imposed. This decision must be adopted by the European Council by a qualified majority. The alert can be proposed by the Commission or by at least 5 Member States.

Exceptions to the 15% reduction

The 15% reduction target is the same for all member states, but each country can decide how to reach the target. The absolute amount to be saved depends on the national energy mix. But at least a dozen countries, including Italy, can claim a number of exemptions that reduce the mandatory cut by eight percentage points. This applies, for example, to countries with few interconnectors such as Spain, Portugal and the island states, as well as to the Baltic States connected to the Russian power grid. A derogation can also be requested by states that exceed the required storage targets or that rely on gas as a raw material for some strategic industries. In addition, an exemption from the 15% target is foreseen for countries that demonstrate that their interconnection performance with other Member States in export capacity remains below 50%. Italy is part of this case.

Italy only has to cut 7%

The Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, explained that thanks to these rules, Italy only has to reduce its gas consumption by 7%, a percentage that the government had already foreseen in the national plan to reduce methane consumption. In order to make use of the derogation, Rome must submit a reasoned request to the European Commission.

What is the government plan?

In order to reach the 7% target, the plan presented by Cingolani envisages reducing the heating in public offices and private homes by one degree in the coming and subsequent winters, that is, bringing the temperature from 20 C to 19 C and switching to reduce an hour a day on the systems. As a result, Italy should consume 2.5 billion cubic meters less gas. The methane savings strategy also focuses on delaying the shutdown of existing coal-fired power plants, accelerating renewable energy and regasification plants. In addition to the three existing ones, namely those of Panigaglia in the province of La Spezia, Porto Tolle in the province of Rovigo and Livorno, the two floating vessels purchased by Snam are to be put into service. The first in Piombino is scheduled to start operating in the first quarter of 2023, the second in Ravenna in the first quarter of 2024.