Alberto Clô introduces ENERGIA 4.21 (pp. 2-7)
Alberto Clô introduces the contents of the new issue of ENERGIA: “Climate: one step forward, two steps back”; “Chronicle of a Death Foretold”; “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves”; “Hydrogen: new virtues, old vices”; “Renewables and electricity system stability”; “Oil-renewables complementarity”; “How good is the superbonus?”
COP26: rhetoric is stronger than will (pp. 8-17)
(COP26: la retorica è più forte della volontà)
Enzo Di Giulio (ENERGIA Scientific Comittee)
The commentary analyses the recent Glasgow COP on three levels: “where we should be going”, based on what science recommends; “where we say we want to go”, i.e. our ambitions; “where we are actually going”, i.e. the hard facts. The crux of the matter lies in the gap between the three levels, as countries express the lofty goal of 1.5°C but in fact we are far from what is needed. Many meetings, hopes and commitments are followed by little action, often in the opposite direction to the commitments. Is the climate battle already lost?
The new energy crisis: chronicle of a death foretold (pp. 14-23)
(La nuova crisi energetica: cronaca di una morte annunciata)
Alberto Clô (ENERGIA Editor-in-chief )
The whole world is experiencing an energy crisis in which a physical scarcity of resources, especially natural gas, is combined with a rise in prices never seen before. This is due both to conjunctural reason (economic growth, high natural gas demand, low wind speed, lack of natural gas supply) and structural ones. In particular: the essentiality of natural gas and the collapse of upstream investments. These facts, ignored by the narrative on the energy transition, would require a deep reflection so as to meet, in a rational way, present and future needs.
The European hydrogen strategy: a critical analysis (pp. 24-37)
(La strategia europea dell’idrogeno: un’analisi critica)
Luigi De Paoli (Bocconi University)
The «hydrogen-zero emissions» coupling promoted by the European Commission should not be taken for granted. The great confidence placed both in the reduction of the costs of electrolysers and in a surge of the «hydrogen economy» led the Commission to adopt a strategy for hydrogen based on the rapid spread of the so-called «green hydrogen» powered by RES. This seem to be a path difficult to achieve outside of a centralized planning regime. The environmental, economic, and social impacts are not negligible: diverting RES generation from the electricity market in favor of hydrogen production almost always increases rather than reduces emissions and there is no certainty that it is the cheapest way to produce hydrogen. This article proposes some alternatives that deserve to be explored, with reference to CCS systems supporting «blue hydrogen».
Is a carbon price enough? Open issues in the economics of climate change (pp. 38-43)
(Basta un prezzo del carbonio? Problemi aperti nell’economia del cambiamento climatico)
Ignazio Musu (Ca’ Foscari University)
Setting a carbon price is the most important climate policy tool we have. Yet economists have so far failed to reach a consensus about its optimal level. Price incentives provide a stimulus to the adoption of existing low-carbon technologies, they can encourage the adoption of «incremental» innovations, but hardly push towards «radical» innovations capable of modifying the current technological regime. This technological revolution involves a completely new infrastructural system for the production and distribution of energy and requires active public intervention, a strong commitment from the utilities and an appropriate sensitivity of consumers. All within an essential framework
of international cooperation.
Saipem: engineering for a sustainable future (pp. 44-49)
(Saipem: ingegneria per un futuro sostenibile)
Loretana Cortis (Communications, Marketing, Institutional Affairs and Sustainability Director, Saipem)
The Covid-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for the ecological transition. However, the COP26 showed the difficulty to reach an effective international cooperation on climate change. The main driver to reduce environmental impacts while supporting the economic growth is investing in innovation, both toward existing technologies, in particular carbon capture, and new ones, such as artificial intelligence. It is difficult to achieve the decarbonisation objectives without taking into account natural gas in the medium term, which boasts a capillary infrastructure and has embarked on a process of digitization. To meet the challenge of the energy transition, Saipem has expanded its business in the non-oil sector (LNG and renewables) and developed a new business model, proposing itself as a key partner in the decarbonization, thanks to a range of diversified engineering solutions with low-carbon impact.
REGULATION & DEREGULATION
Pros and cons of Demand Response between literature and experiments (pp. 50-61)
(Pro e contro della Demand Response tra letteratura e sperimentazioni)
Giovanni Goldoni (University of Verona and ENERGIA Scientific Comittee)
The article explores the potential of demand response (DR) in an energy transition scenario, where transmission and distribution grids are increasingly exposed to the intermittency of renewable sources. The results that emerge from the most recent literature and from the Californian case study, where many experiments have been carried out on DR, in particular in its most promising version («load shift») are ambivalent: encouraging as regards the existence of sufficient resources to absorb the daily and more regular fluctuations of intermittent renewable production; less encouraging as regards the involvement of residential consumers in DR programs based on dynamic prices which would, in theory, allow a more efficient participation of demand in the electricity markets.
How efficient is the ecobonus? (pp. 62-69)
(Quanto è efficiente l’ecobonus?)
Carlo Amenta (University of Palermo and Bruno Leoni Institute) and Carlo Stagnaro (Bruno Leoni Institute)
Since years, Italy has introduced a number of fiscal bonus for construction, seismic and energy renovation of buildings. The current regulation provides for a maximum deduction of 110% of the nominal value of the works. Is it an efficient policy? This article, based on available data and international evidence, makes some critical considerations on the design of the measure. This could generate additional investments if, even with a less generous rate, it would be made more stable over time. It should also be accompanied by contextual measures to encourage greater equity in its use and capture the potential benefits of competition in the electricity sector. Finally, as the electrification of consumption and the decarbonisation of electricity generation proceed, the relationship between energy efficiency objectives and those of reducing emissions will be less and less strong.
OUT OF THE CHORUS
Fighting climate change: mystifications and realities (pp. 70-79)
(Lotta ai cambiamenti climatici: mistificazioni e realtà)
Oliviero Bernardini (ENERGIA Scientific Comittee)
Adoption of homogeneous or even only converging climate strategies is thwarted by large differences in energy resource endowment and in economic growth objectives of the countries concerned. The article calls attention to the debatable rationality in the reasoning behind the UNFCCC and WEO approaches, specifically regarding their relevance for the challenges confronting individual countries. The article underscores the weakness behind the theory of anthropic origin of global warming, underlining that its contribution to climate change is destined to tail off in the coming half century even in the absence of implausible dirigistic measures. It would be wiser to invest in the creation of adequate defences to counter the expected devastations of global warming.
Tabs (pp. 84-96)
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