This spring's rain brings water and lots of (hydro)electric energy

Spring, which does not arrive amidst days of real and unexpected bad weather, however, brings good news: a boom in hydroelectric energy production in Italy and thus the independence of our country is increasing. Lots of rain and snowfall (particularly in the Alps) have increased hydroelectric energy generation. An increase ranging from 50 to 100%. And the profits of the utilities that manage hydroelectric plants are also soaring. The quarterly data will be released in the coming weeks, but a record first quarter of the year is expected, especially for Enel, A2A and Compagnia Valdostana delle Acque.

The last few months (March and April) with adverse weather conditions for holidaymakers on the bridges have averted the risk of drought and ensured reserves in the reservoirs. This “exceptional haul” shows excellent possibilities for the rest of the year. Meanwhile, in the first three months of 2024, production from water sources rose from 5 to 9 terawatt hours. This ensures a reduction in energy production from coal and gas and in view of the restrictions on the use of fossil fuels means greater energy independence for Italy. Certainly more autonomy thanks to the water source also means a reduction in the price of energy, in perspective. In the first four months of the year, Compagnia Valdostana delle Acque (32 plants with approximately one gigawatt of capacity) doubled hydroelectric production compared to the same period of 2023. +50% for A2A (2 gigawatts of capacity and plants in Lombardy, Friuli and Calabria) and Enel (500 plants for 16 gigawatts of capacity throughout the country). The regions that recorded the greatest increases were Piedmont, Lombardy and Trentino-Alto Adige.

More production means more energy independence for Italy but it also means a reduction in the price of energy. The cost per megawatt hour (PUN) fell in April compared to February by 6-8 euros at night and by 16-18 euros during the day.

In Italy there are 4860 plants for the production of hydroelectric energy (Terna data February 2024). There are 1092 in Piedmont (3103 MW), 891 in Trentino-Alto Adige (3804 MW), 749 in Lombardy (5694 MW), 408 in Veneto (1391 MW), 220 in Valle d'Aosta (1106 MW). Of note is Abruzzo which has only 78 power plants, but has a power of 1267 MW, therefore close to the Regions with the highest number of plants. The region with the fewest power plants is Puglia, which has only 10. From 2009 to today the numbers have almost doubled, there were in fact 2249 plants compared to 4860 today. A continuously growing trend. Just think that in two years, 2022-2024, 158 new power plants were opened.

In total this is almost 22 thousand megawatt hours of installed power for Italy. Lombardy is at the top of the ranking for production (5694 MW) followed by Trentino-Alto Adige (3804 MW).

Hydroelectric power in Italy is the leading renewable source (40.7%) for the production of electricity. But over 7 out of 10 hydroelectric plants in the country are more than forty years old and over 80% of the concessions for large hydroelectric derivations are already expired or will expire by 2029. It is estimated that 560 million euros would be needed just for the repowering of existing hydroelectric plants (The European House Ambrosetti study).

Meanwhile, exceptional snow and rain for the period give a boost to the sector and to Italy's independence. And to company profits.