Yet another destination for coal exports to dry up with Italy’s 2025 phase-out
On Tuesday, Italy’s economic development minister said the country will commit to phasing out coal in its energy mix, ending all use by 2025 according to Argus Media.
The country follows the UK, Canada, and France in its pledge to end coal use in the coming years. For some countries, the pledge is more meaningful than for others.
In the UK, coal provided around 30 percent of the country’s electricity in 2014, the year before the government pledged to end coal power generation by 2025. Early this year, the UK had its first 24 hours with no coal-fired generation since 1882. The news came along with data from 2016 that reported coal-generated electricity made up just nine percent of the country’s energy mix.
In Canada, rich hydroelectric resources mean the country only depends on fossil fuels for about 20 percent of its energy mix. France, which pledged in July to phase out coal by 2022, only gets about 4 percent of its electricity from coal-fired plants due to an enormous nuclear energy industry.
Italy's pledge falls somewhere in between these pledges. The country has a handful of coal-fired plants totaling 8GW of capacity, which account for 15 percent of its electricity generation, according to Argus. But the closure of those plants may have more impact on coal exporters than on Italy's economy. Enel, a major power producer in the country, has experience installing renewable energy plants around the world (including many renewable projectsin the US). Assocarboni, the General Association of Coal Operators in Italy, notes that there’s only one coal mine in Italy. About 90 percent of Italy’s coal demand is met by imports shipped from overseas. Those exporting to Italy include Russia, Australia, the US, and South Africa.
Italy's 2025 proposal replaces a May proposal to phase out coal generation by 2030. Argus noted that in response to Italy's 2030 plan, Italian grid operator Terna said the country ought to "increase gas-fired capacity by at least 1GW to guarantee flexible dispatchable capacity without destabilizing the Italian system," while adding that meeting the 2030 plan on time "would require another 2.4GW of gas-fired capacity and another 1GW interconnector between Sardinia and the mainland." A 2025 plan would likely require more investment on top of that. A finalized strategy is due November 10.