The Italian energy system from 1990 to today: an economic perspective Stampa E-mail

Torna al sommario

by Vittorio D’Ermo and Francesco Marghella

This article is an extract from the Paper Italian economy changes and their impact on the energy system from 1990 to 2014 with particular reference to the industrial sector: implications for the future (Vittorio D’Ermo, Francesco Marghella, Nino Morgantini) presented at the 14th IAEE European Energy Conference 28-31 october 2014 - Rome. The data used are that from the italian national statistic institute (ISTAT) for value added and that from ENEA and Ministry of Economic Development for national energy balance

  *     *  
* * **

I cambiamenti del sistema economico italiano sono coincisi con un processo di intensa trasformazione del sistema energetico. Il presente lavoro di analisi è stato condotto sul periodo 1990-2014, cercando di individuare i principali punti di cambiamento in termini di struttura economica, istituzionale e industriale. L’evoluzione del sistema è analizzata a livello di settore economico. i settori analizzati sono l’industriale, i trasporti, i servizi e il residenziale.
I dati di consumo finale di energia sono disaggregati a livello di elettricità e combustibili (solidi, liquidi e gassosi, fonti rinnovabili incluse).

Ne emerge che fino a dieci anni fa i consumi energetici italiani si muovevano ancora su un trend di crescita, che ha raggiunto il suo massimo nel 2005. A partire da quell’anno la domanda di energia in Italia comincia
a muoversi verso la riduzione.
Le cause di questo processo sono molteplici:
la prima è legata all’inizio di una lunga fase di declino dell’economia italiana che non è ancora terminato e che ha visto una progressiva riduzione del ruolo dell’industria nella formazione
del valore aggiunto; il secondo fattore, di segno positivo, è costituito da un aumento di efficienza nell’utilizzo dell’energia, che ha ancora molti spazi da sfruttare; il terzo elemento, anche questo di segno positivo, anche se con alcuni rilievi, è rappresentato dallo sviluppo accelerato delle fonti rinnovabili di energia a carattere innovativo in un’ottica di riduzione delle emissioni di CO2.

Come conseguenza di tutto questo processo la domanda italiana di energia alla fine del 2014 si attesterà a circa 165 milioni di tep, con una riduzione di ben 33 milioni di tep rispetto al massimo del 2005. A questo riguardo, attraverso un modello di simulazione, si è cercato di valutare la domanda
di energia in italia al 2020 a partire da un’ipotesi di ripresa economica. I risultati di questo lavoro evidenziano per il 2020 un fabbisogno di energia
ben lontano dal massimo del 2005 e di poco superiore ai livelli del 2014, a causa dell’effetto combinato di nuovi cambiamenti strutturali nel settore industriale e dell’ulteriore calo dell’intensità energetica in tutti i settori di utilizzo, anche in assenza di ulteriori iniziative per
il risparmio energetico.

*** * ]***

Italian economy grew up at a rate of +1.6% p.a. during the nineties, with the only exception of a limited period following the “Lira” crisis of 1992. In the first decade of the new century it continued to grow at a slightly lower rate till the recent crisis.
At the end of the black biennium 2008-09 GDP* (GDP + taxes on products - contributions on products) lost 7 percentage points, but after a very partial recovery in 2010-11 it continued to fall in 2012-14, so that at the end of the current year an 8% loss compared to 2007 level is estimated (see Graphic 1).
Within this process, services sector grew up at a higher rate than industry during the whole considered period. That allowed services to overcome the share of 70% of GDP* in 2000. In addition, services didn’t suffered the 2008-09 global crisis as much as industry. As a consequence, the share jumped after 2009.

Industrial energy demand lived troubled years in the recent period. After a substantial contraction in the first 3 years of the nineties, it began to expand, driven primarily by non energyintensive manufacturing sectors.
After 2002 those sectors started many initiatives in the field of efficiency so that energy intensive sectors regained quotas on industrial energy consumption.
At any rate, industrial demand peaked in 2004, while the sectoral value added was still in expansion. The message from the recent crisis is that less energy intensive sectors better withstood the fall of 2009 but had worst difficulties in the next 2 years, while they appear in relative recovery over the past 2 years (2012-13).
Services energy demand expanded at a very fast rate during the nineties and till 2006. After that year it suffered climatic factors and lost the inertia due to technological changes and to efficiency measures.
The crisis affected this sector only in terms of deceleration of the growth rate, while the decline that is estimated for 2014 has a climatic explication again.
The transport sector remained more closely related to GDP* and much more resistant to technological changes. Energy demand from this sector began to decline only since 2008, coinciding with the economic crisis.
All that pushed the expansion of these two sectors share on final energy consumption that partially compensated the industrial decline from 2005 to the years of crisis, preserving the aggregated share around 70%.

The remaining part of final energy consumption is represented by households, non energy uses and bunkering. The domestic sector showed a substantial stability in total energy demand, while electricity demand resulted in gradual expansion till 2011. After that year, the worse economic conditions affected also this latter form of energy consumption, because of an increased attention to savings and efficiency.
The share on total energy consumption, once around 20 per cent but in decline, started to climb since 2008 as an evident consequence of the crisis in economic activities, while the fall of 2014 is due to favourable climatic conditions.
Energy intensity can be used also as an indicator of productivity; in this sense the structural changes occurring to the economy can be read as the consequence of efficiency in using the energy input. In this perspective, energy intensity evolution must be observed to better understand how the economic changes affected the energy system.
And conducting a separate analysis between fuels intensity (fuels: solid fuels, oil products, natural gas and renewable thermal energy) and electricity intensity can lead to a deeper awareness of changes.

During the nineties a growing economy pushed up the energy demand. Energy intensity was originally increasing but fell down in the middle of the decade. In 1999 it reached the level of 1990, but in the next year it fell again at the lowest level of the period (see Graphic 2).
The total energy intensity index received a strong contribution from electricity, whose consumption quota on total final consumption increased from 15% in 1990 to 17 per cent in 2000.

The period 2000-07 was characterized by the peak of final energy consumption that took place in 2005. After the economic slowdown of 2002-03, energy demand growth rate began to decrease, while the value of energy intensity touched for the second time the level of 1990 that will never be touched again.
Fuels intensity resulted the main driver of the paradigm change, but electricity intensity showed clearly its tendency towards stabilization since 2003. Then the global crisis did its entrance on stage and it is very instructive to know which were its effects on the energy system.
Intensity had a little recovery in 2010, but from that point continued to decline gradually in a surprisingly regular manner.

At the end of 2014, energy demand will be lower than 1990, fuels intensity will lost more than 15 percentage points in comparison with 1990 level. Electricity intensity confirmed that the process of penetration within the economy had already come to an end by showing a modest recovery till 2012 and then a collapse in the last 2 years. Despite this, electricity is expected to complete the work of overcoming 20% share of total final energy consumption in the current year.
Looking at the industrial sector, energy intensities behaved in a totally different way for energy intensive and non energyintensive manufacturers. The latter strongly increased their intensity till 2003 in an environment of low oil prices, while the first substantially reduced their footprint on total industrial intensity. After that year, a sharp turnaround interested less energy consumers, whose intensity decreased at a much higher rate that the 2 indices of energy intensity are both expected to settle close to a 20% lower level than 1990.

To put all in physical terms, Italy seems to have lost in the last 7 years, or as a result of the crisis, an amount of 27 mega tons of oil equivalent of final energy consumption, only 3 Mtoe less than the increase carried out between 1990 and 2007. The loss is equal to 19 per cent in percentage points.

Starting from the previous analysis, a simple model was built in order to simulate the effects of the expected economic recovery during the next 6 years on. The model incorporates paths for fuels and electricity intensities derived econometrically at main sectoral level with the aim to project final energy consumption to 2020 once established a hypothesis of GDP* growth, as exogenous variable.

Graphic 5 shows the effects of a 0.9 per cent GDP* growth per annum starting from 2015. The different growth rates among economic sectors are consequence of a GDP shares model.
The “value added” for transport refers to GDP* and for households refers to households final consumption expenditure.

According to this results, manufacturing recovery should be more difficult than in any other sector. Fuels consumption should increase only in services, transport and households sectors, while its total growth rate should be negative.
Electricity should be in positive territory for all sectors, especially for transport, where the expansion of electric vehicles market should continue at increasing rates. The total effect should realize in a weak recovery of energy demand.

On the intensity side, fuels should lose ground in all sectors, while electricity should gain some percentage points per annum in industry, agriculture and fisheries and transport too, but not for services and the domestic sector. The aggregated result for electricity intensity should be a very small decrease close to zero percentage points per annum. The result at an aggregate level should be of a further loss in energy intensity, with no sectors to make exception from the general trend. For final energy consumption a halting of the decline is expected and for energy intensity a progression of the decrease, due basically to fuels, while electricity intensity looks set to lose weight only in a subsequent period.

Accordingly, manufacturing recovery should be more difficult than for any other sector. Fuels consumption should increase only in services, transport and households sectors, while its total growth rate should be negative. Electricity should be in positive territory for all sectors, especially for transport, where the expansion of electric vehicles market should continue at increasing rates. The total effect should realize in a weak recovery of energy demand. In any case, the energy demand recovery should be limited by the future dynamics of energy intensity. To reach the levels of ten years ago, the economic growth should be much stronger, but this clashes with the enormous difficulties shown so far by the Italian economy.

In conclusion, the Italian energy demand has very few possibilities to touch again the levels reached at the beginning of the century. The combined effect of structural changes especially in the industrial sector and the declining trend of energy intensities with particular emphasis to fuel intensity, also in absence of additional initiatives for energy conservation, are paving the way for an energy demand at 2020 around 121 Mtoe against the maximum touched in 2005 of 147 Mtoe. Even assuming a hypothesis of more accentuated economic recovery the effects on final energy consumption would be limited.


© 2005 – 2024