Nuclear power and energy future. A comparative analysis of Italy and Germany

Essay 2013 21 Pages

Energy Sciences



EU context and national policies

In recent times, the European institutions have been increasingly recognizing, on the one hand, the gravity of the environmental concerns related to energy (in the steps of production, consumption, and waste management and disposal), and, on the other hand, the importance of reducing the energy imports dependence of the majority of the Member countries.

These recognition has led to remarkable legislation efforts, culminated in the enactment of the so-called Third Energy Package,[1] adopted in July 2009, which, while maintaining the classic European Union approach based on liberalization and improvement of competition, also embraced the new points of view of environment, consumer protection and security of supply.[2]

As acknowledged by the EU itself, the most ambitious points of its legislation instruments are those related to the so-called 20-20-20 objectives to meet by 2020: reducing EU greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions by 20% from 1990 levels, raising the shares of EU energy consumption produced from renewable sources to 20%, improving the EU’s energy efficiency by 20%.[3]

The above-listed points are means to achieving a low-carbon energy structured economy for the Internal European Market. From this starting point, through a brief compared analysis between the Italian and German energy factual and legal frameworks, it is possible to outline the main critical points regarding not only the European energy policy goals, but, more broadly, the ties between energy, economics, society, and the environment.

The focus, here, is on the most recent changes affecting the Italian and German nuclear power sectors. For such purpose, after an overview of the countries’ energy backgrounds (indispensable to understand the nuclear developments in the light also of the other energy resources), the likely future scenarios and the possible alternatives to meet the EU goals will be discussed, on the basis of a variety of sources.

Starting with the comparison between the Italian and German national energy balances helps to analyze the main similarities and differences between these two important European countries and to go through the current situation and seek to look to the likely future scenarios.

The Italian and German energy consumptions are articulated as the following graphs show:

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Figure 1 . Italy: Final Energy Consumption by Sector (2010).[4]

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Figure 2. Germany: Final Energy Consumption by Sector (2011).[5]

One of the main features of the Italian energy mix is the fact that, as acknowledged by the main national energy company, ENI (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi – National Body for the Hydrocarbons), “the energy policies implemented in Italy have privileged natural gas as the primary source of energy for the civil sector and for the generation of electricity.”[6] (Figure 3 clearly explains the heavy Italian dependence from natural gas for its energy needs) .

While oil is used basically for the transport sector, natural gas serves as the main source for the production of electricity for household and industry uses.

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Figure 3. Italy: Primary Energy Consumption by fuel (2010 estimates).[7]

Germany relies on gas for its needs for 23% of total, as Figure 4 shows.

According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Italy is the fifth country in the world in terms of gas imports quantities, after Germany: the estimates for 2011 amounted to 70.37 and 87.57 billion cubic metres (bcm) respectively.[8]

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Figure 4. Germany: Electricity production by type of fuel.[9]

Italy imports most of the natural gas from few countries: Algeria (36.65%), Russia (19.65%), Lybia (12.59%), Netherlands (4.20%), Norway (3.80%).[10] Germany imported 39% of its gas from Russia in 2010, 35% from Norway, and 22% from the Netherlands.[11] This overwhelming dependence on extra EU gas represents a major concern both for the EU and for the other economic partners, such as the U.S. Indeed, as a recent interesting report prepared by the Federation of American Scientists for the U.S. Congressional Research Service states:


[1] The EU Third Energy Pack is formed by three Regulations (Regulation 713/2009/EC of the European Council and of the Parliament of 13 July 2009 establishing an Agency for the Co-operation of Energy Regulators – also known as ACER Regulation, Regulation 714/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 on conditions for access to the network for cross-border exchanges in electricity and repealing Regulation EC 1228/2003, Regulation 715/2009/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 on conditions for access to the natural gas transmission networks and repealing Regulation EC 1775/2005), and two Directives (Directive 2009/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity and repealing Directive 2003/54/EC, and Directive 2009/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas and repealing Directive 2003/55/EC). See < http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:211:0001:0014:EN:PDF>, < http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:211:0015:0035:EN:PDF>, <http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:211:0036:0054:en:PDF>, <http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:211:0055:0093:EN:PDF>, <http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2009:211:0094:0136:en:PDF> accessed on 4 November 2013.

[2] Angus Johnston & Guy Block, EU Energy Law, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2012, p. 25.

[3] < http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/package/> Accessed on 1 November 2013. As it is possible to read further in the page, “the 20-20-20 targets represent an integrated approach to climate and energy policy that aims to combat climate change, increase the EU’s energy efficiency and strengthen its competitiveness. […] tackling climate and energy challenge contributes to the creation of jobs, the generation of green growth and a strengthening of Europe’s competitiveness.”

[4] Source: adapted from <http://www.eniscuola.net/en/energy/specials/the-energy-scenario-in-italy/> (accessed on 2 November 2013 – based on the National Energy Balance published by the Ministry of Economic Development).

[5] Source: Adapted from Barbara Schlomann, Wolfgang Eichhammer , Energy Efficiency Policies and Measures in Germany - Monitoring of EU and national energy efficiency targets, Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI (Germany), Karlsruhe, November 2012, as available at the following URL: <http://www.isi.fraunhofer.de/isi-media/docs/x/de/publikationen/National-Report_Germany_November-2012.pdf> Accessed on 2 November 2013. * Civil Uses comprise: Household, Tertiary, Others.

[6] Benedetta Palazzo, <http://www.eniscuola.net/en/energy/specials/the-energy-scenario-in-italy/>.

[7] EnergyDelta Institute. <http://www.energydelta.org/mainmenu/energy-knowledge/country-gas-profiles/country-profile-italy#t42874> (revisited; accessed on 2 November 2013. As one can see, Italy’s electricity production from nuclear power is 0%. Italy imports all the electricity produced from nuclear power (10% of the total consumed electricity). See Nuclear Energy Agency at the following URL: <http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-G-N/Italy/> accessed on 7 November 2013.

[8] See < https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/it.html> and <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gm.html> both accessed on 2 November 2013.

[9] Adapted from Germany , Country Analysis Note, Energy Information Administration. <http://www.eia.gov/countries/country-data.cfm?fips=GM&trk=m> Accessed on 2 November 2013.

[10] See <http://www.energydelta.org/mainmenu/energy-knowledge/country-gas-profiles/country-profile-italy#t42874> (revisited; accessed on 2 November 2013). Moreover, as further information in the same page show, the majority of these imports are made by pipelines (88%), while the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports amount to the 12%. As regards oil, Italy is the seventh country in the world in terms of imported volumes, with 1.591 million bbl/day in the 2010 estimates (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/it.html).

[11] International Energy Agency, Oil & Gas Security, Emergency Response of IEA Countries, OECD – IEA, Paris 2012, as available at the following URL: < http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/GermanyOSS.pdf> Accessed on 2 November 2013.


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Title: Nuclear power and energy future. A comparative analysis of Italy and Germany