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31 July 2015

Where we are with renewable energy?

The expectations expressed in the Kyoto Protocol have not been met, but there have been important advances nonetheless.

It was 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol targets were set in order to counter the effects of air pollution and global warming. Policies to protect and control the environment in recent years have been formed and reformed, but from all the available evidence it looks as if we are still far from achieving these objectives on a global scale.

However, there is at least one ray of hope. We have got better at measuring changes in the environment, as has the technology. In Italy, the environmental organisation Legambiente deserves our thanks for its Renewable Cities Report, which over the last 10 years has tracked the growth in clean energy sources in this country.

The report focuses on three main areas: energy savings made through an extensive system of initiatives both nationally and in terms of consumption in various sectors; use of renewable energy; and coefficient energy systems, with particular reference to local businesses, and strong, widespread technological innovation and management, and distributed generation of electricity and thermal energy.

Above all, the report paints a picture of future energy use that is increasingly becoming a reality, with thousands of green energy installations throughout Italy and with its citizens playing a leading role.

According to the report: “In the last ten years, renewable sources have helped to transform the Italian energy system. Overall, in Italy in 2014 renewables contributed to 38.2% of total electricity consumption (in 2005 it was 15.4%) and 16% of final energy consumption (5.3% in 2005). Today Italy is the first country in the world in terms of solar electricity consumption (more than 11% in April 2015), and this debunks the idea that these sources have always had a marginal role in the Italian energy system and that their excessive development would create very considerable problems of network management.”


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