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Italy 'will struggle' to meet SEN coal targets

8 Dec 2017, 6.44 pm GMT

Italy 'will struggle' to meet SEN coal targets

London, 8 December (Argus) — Italy will not be able to achieve its coal-fired power phase-out targets by 2025 because it will take longer to replace 8GW of coal-fired capacity, accroding to the environment ministry's chief of cabinet, Raffaele Tiscar.

Speaking at environmental association Amici della Terra's conference in Rome at the end of last month, Tiscar said coal-fired plants currently guarantee that power supply and demand are in balance and would need to be replaced with other, new capacity. The most viable replacement is gas, Tiscar said, given that there is no scope for further hydro capacity expansion and that solar and wind face problems such as land use objections. But with authorisation for a gas-fired plant taking at least eight years, he warned that Italy will fail to complete the coal phase-out by 2025.

The government has not issued a permit for any thermal power plant project since 2012 and many schemes have been shelved — even after securing authorisation.

The country published the new national energy strategy (SEN) on 10 November, confirming plans to complete the phase-out of coal-fired power within the next eight years. Italy has around 8GW of coal-fired capacity, accounting for around 15pc of generation. Gas-fired capacity needs to increase by 3.4GW to facilitate the phase-out and renewable targets, according to SEN.

The phase-out will add further costs for the Italian power system, with any new gas-fired capacity having to be decommissioned after just 15-20 years to meet EU targets. The EU plans to push for complete decarbonisation by 2050, and this timeline would make it impossible for new gas-fired facilities to be completely amortised, Tiscar said. This will make it hard to find investors and any extra costs could be passed on to consumers, he added.

Tiscar noted that these factors must not stop Italy from trying to achieve the SEN targets.

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