Economy

The Green Deal is dead, long live the Green Deal

The use of the famous “Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi!” was functional, in 15th century France, to affirm the uninterrupted continuity of the monarchical institution and avoid the institutional void between the death of the sovereign and the accession to the throne of his successor. So today in Italian politics, as the concept begins to gain ground that the exit from fossils will be a question of generations and not decades, it is realized that it is appropriate to throw, at least temporarily, into the sea the miraculous (until yesterday) shovels and panels in an attempt to perpetuate its existence.

We are witnessing a “bipartisan” attempt to put a stop to the effects of five years of continuous raising of the bar of climate objectives which have led a large part of the electorate to associate the ideology of the Green Deal with the deindustrialization of the country which is proceeding, driven by electricity prices, at such a speed that no force seems capable of stopping. It is therefore better to avoid claiming paternity in the upcoming European electoral competition, indeed, it is advisable to distance ourselves from it, as if someone had hung a sign there, as on high tension wires, “He who touches dies”.

At the same time, the measures that are adopted do not present themselves as a change of direction but leave the doors open for an appropriate repositioning once the electoral competition is over. Yet it is now clear how the situation has gotten out of hand: Terna's data highlights how connection requests from renewable source received by the manager of the national electricity grid have reached the hyperbolic figure of 328 gigawatts (GW) compared to the 70 GW required by the objective set, at European level, by the Fit for 55 package. Furthermore, the number of requests for connection of large ground-mounted photovoltaic systems with lower power is undefined to 6 megawatts (MW), which do not enter Terna's data, and which could represent further tens of GW of capacity.

A disproportionate number of installations, almost 5 times the required objective, to be achieved by 2030, which makes us understand how renewable energy is actually a means to allow a few to get rich by drawing on public intervention for the development of these forms of intermittent energy financed or encouraged with public funds: two hundred billion euros already spent, and hundreds still to be spent. To understand the enormity of what is happening, consider that public electricity production in our country in 2023 required on average around 50 GW of installed capacity.

While the lobbyists of the wind and photovoltaic sectors tear their clothes predicting billion-dollar losses, they however avoid explaining that the share of fossil fuel power plants that will be possible to shut down will only be 10% of those currently in operation. These enormous economic outlays will produce insignificant results for the purposes of the country's energy dependence on fossil fuels since the Italian electricity system could be subject to risks of load shedding, i.e. blackout, should a significant portion of the thermoelectric park be decommissioned. The high penetration of intermittent sources such as wind and photovoltaic in the energy mix provides a limited, rather problematic, contribution to the reliability of the electricity system which therefore remains the responsibility of the thermoelectric park, powered by fossil fuels, whose minimum value must remain at around 50 GW of maximum power.

Numerically, explains Terna, the adequacy conditions of our electricity system remain in line with the provisions of the Ministerial Decree of 28/6/2019 in terms of energy security, corresponding to a maximum decommissioning of approximately 3.9 GW of the thermoelectric park : less than 10% of the total. Therefore it will be necessary to continue to subsidize fossil fuel power plants so that they remain in operation to guarantee the energy security that intermittent renewable sources will never be able to offer. Because if we chose to let thermoelectric capacity be decommissioned, the economic sustainability of which will be put at risk by intermittent renewables, the reliability of our electricity system would collapse.

Do not think that this is a medium-term picture: in the long term the critical issues linked to the risk of decommissioning thermoelectric plants due to economic unsustainability increase precisely due to the increase in the penetration of intermittent renewable sources into the energy mix which always makes the operating time of thermoelectric plants is more irregular and reduced. Therefore, despite installing over 120 GW of wind and photovoltaic power, more than double the country's capacity demand, and including over 27 GW of batteries, we will only be able to decommission just over 20% of the current fleet of fossil fuel power plants to contain the blackout risk within the limits established by Italian law.

Therefore there is not much to be shocked when Minister Pichetto Fratin deemed it appropriate to clarify that “we cannot think of filling the country with photovoltaic panels and wind turbines everywhere” underlining how it isIt is also necessary that the energy mix needs to be reviewed “to provide that continuity that renewables are unable to provide.” But above all whythe real asset to be defended in the Bel Paese is its ownLandscape increasingly put at risk by Chinese climate solution: wind and photovoltaic energy.

She also arrived at the same conclusions the Tuscany Region which, in agreement with Emilia Romagna, postponed the services conference that was to be held in April for the “Badia del Vento” industrial wind plant, composed of 50 blades from 180 to 200 meters highwhich should rise in the upper Tiber Valley on the border with Romagna. A project carried out with wind turbines of enormous proportions whose foundations would insist on one of the most landslide areas in Italy: one of the most unsuitable to host these infrastructures whose deep foundations would reactivate the landslide sliding and detachment plans.

Anticipating the choices of the Government, which is about to launch a law decree that will prevent all areas classified as “agricultural” from being made suitable for the installation of ground-mounted photovoltaics, a few weeks ago the Councilor for Agriculture of Emilia Romagna, Alessio Mammi, proposed a petition “Forchange the national standard that allows hundreds of thousands of hectares of fertile and agricultural land to be covered with traditional photovoltaic panels”. Why “If everything were to remain as it is, our country runs the risk of covering many agricultural lands with photovoltaic panels, affecting the beauty of the landscape, environmental biodiversity and agricultural production in the field..”

Even in Sardinia, where the new council is the expression of a political area contiguous and sensitive to the promotion of intermittent renewables, the 5 Star Movement, a moratorium has been launched on electricity production plants from renewable sources which entails a ban on the construction of this type of plant as it jeopardizes the landscape, territory and land consumption. Also in this case it is an initiative that both candidates in the recent electoral campaign in Sardinia had included in their programme.

Now given that the laws of physics and economics are not changed and given that the only other variable is the political class, the latter could have opted for the “death of the King” to affirm, with the uninterrupted continuity of the green ideology, also one's own. Because, whatever the cost, to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the Bel Paese will still have to be covered with shovels and panels… Unless something changes in Brussels.