G7 Summit Chance for Meloni to Make International Climate Push

Italy’s own energy policies: mixed feelings on renewables energies, bad on sustainable mobility “It’s complicated.”
That is how Gianni Silvestrini, scientific director of Kyoto Club, an Italian NGO which makes advocacy for energy efficiency and renewables, defines Italy’s own energy transition in the year of its G7 presidency. “Growth of renewables is steadier than ever but still not fast enough – we are just catching up with the past decade,” he says. “The weak point is electric mobility. Italy is one of the slowest countries in the European Union for EV growth.”

In 2023, 5.7 GW of renewables were installed, of which 5.2 GW were PV. This is remarkable progress. In 2021 it was 1.3 GW, and in 2022 the figure was 3 GW. The trend is promising but, according to a report by Politecnico di Milano, it still won’t be enough to meet the 2030 decarbonization targets because utility scale installations are missing from the picture. “In addition to that, the new law against solar panels on farmland will cause renewables to lose this momentum,” Silvestrini says.

This new agriculture law is so restrictive on solar installation on farmland that, according to the Alliance for Photovoltaics in Italy, it will stop 80 percent of already planned projects. The government’s law was designed to protect agricultural production against the use of the same lands for renewable energy. PV companies claim that solar panels need to be installed on 80,000 hectares out of a total 16.5 million hectares of farmland – just 0.5 percent – in order to reach the 2030 goals.

While renewable energy expansion is picking up, electric vehicle development is stuck. In the first quarter of 2024, the share of EV sales in Italy was 3.3 percent, one of Europe’s slowest EV markets. Some majority parties, such as Matteo Salvini’s Lega, have made opposing electric cars an electoral campaign talking point. Salvini is currently minister of infrastructures, so he is also the person in charge of sustainable mobility development.

The government has just launched a new consumer subsidies plan for low-emission cars. The scheme starts on 3 June. It is a 1-billion-euro programme, and encourages the purchase of efficient gasoline, plug-in, hybrid and electric cars. “The problem with this scheme is that it is too little, too late, and it is not even targeted at electric cars, but still includes conventional ones, so it risks not being effective where it would be most needed,” says Silvestrini.