Climate and Energy: The Effect of Summer Rainfall on Electricity Consumption in Italy

We produce more energy from renewable sources, we are experiencing a particular summer, with less demand for electricity due to the rainy climate in the north and we are not yet self-sufficient, importing just over 15% of energy. This is the picture that appears from the data released in June by Terna (the national grid manager) and Arera (the energy regulation authority). In a summer that has so far been characterized by completely different weather conditions between the north and south of the country, the effects on energy consumption are visible. According to Arera, at the end of June the monthly requirement was equal to 24.7 billion kWh, +1.9% compared to May 2023, but with a continuous decline in production from thermoelectric sources and, in particular, since the beginning of 2024 coal has been used to create less than 2% of national demand while hydroelectric and photovoltaic have grown by over 30% compared to May last year. According to the data processed by Terna, the figure of the increase of almost 2% in demand partially recovers the figure of May 2023 (-7.4%), and was totaled with an equal number of working days (22) but a completely different average monthly temperature. Therefore, we consumed less energy for the air conditioners turned off but also witnessed a slight recovery in industry (+1.4%) and a more lively one in services, which on a territorial level was produced by a +1.8% in the North and Center; +2.3% in the South and Islands. Thus in the first five months of the year the national requirement grew by 1.1% compared to the corresponding period of 2023 (the adjusted value is +0.2%).

Regarding Terna’s monthly balance, last month the Italian electricity demand was satisfied for 84.7% by national production and for the remaining share (15.3%) by the balance of energy exchanged with foreign countries. The value of the monthly foreign balance is equal to 3.8 TWh; on a progressive level, from January to May 2024, the net import increased by 5.6%. The Imcei index (Monthly Industrial Electricity Consumption Index) developed by Terna, which examines the industrial consumption of the most ‘energy-intensive’ companies, recorded a growth of 1.4% on 2023 with greater requests from the paper, steel, transport and food industries. Those produced by mechanics, ceramics and glass, non-ferrous metals, cement and chemicals are decreasing. The Imser index (Monthly Services Index), which Terna publishes on the basis of monthly electricity consumption data provided by some distribution network operators (E-Distribuzione, Unareti, A-Reti, Edyna and Deval), recorded a positive variation of 4.8% on an annual basis in March. In particular, the sectors that recorded positive variations include professional, scientific and technical activities, transport and storage, information and communication. Those with negative variations include finance, insurance and education. Terna’s press release states: “Net national production was 21.2 billion kWh. Renewable sources covered 52.5% of electricity demand (it was 42.3% in May 2023). This is the highest monthly value ever. Hydroelectric sources (+34.7%), photovoltaic (+36.3%) and wind (+10.5%) increased; the increase in photovoltaic production (+1,062 GWh) is due to the combined effect of the increase in operating capacity (+669 GWh) and greater irradiation (+393 GWh). Geothermal (-4.3%) and thermal (-14.6%) sources are decreasing as a direct consequence of the growth of renewables. In particular, in the month of May, coal production covered approximately 1% of total demand. Since the beginning of 2024, coal’s contribution has remained below 2% of national demand.” It can therefore be deduced that the amount of energy produced from renewable sources is growing, which in the first five months of 2024 marked +42% compared to the same period of the previous year for 3,015 MW.