Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and amidst COVID-19 recovery efforts, the energy crisis has put enormous pressure to policymakers to balance climate action, sustainable development, and management of the impacts of fuel supply disruptions and price shocks. Policy and market responses, such as liquefied natural gas infrastructure investments and use of every available fossil-fuel lever to make up for Russian gas supply cuts, are feared to trigger new lock-ins, jeopardising decarbonisation. This is also the case in Italy, which is highly dependent on Russia-imported gas. Energy models typically used to support such decisions take time to produce meaningful scenarios and, in times of crisis, are largely driven by highly uncertain parameters. This study uses fuzzy cognitive maps to engage with experts in a workshop and elicit their knowledge and perceptions with the aid of a questionnaire, towards simulating the impact of selected strategies and important uncertainties on the three pillars of Italy's progress to electricity-sector sustainability: decarbonisation, affordability, and reliability. In a framework of deliberation and simulation, experts displayed strong preference for renewable energy, compared to new gas infrastructure. Renewables were notably deemed to have positive impacts across all three sustainabiltiy dimensions and were found more robust against uncertainties, such as regulatory and political instability, which was highlighted as the biggest risk. Critically, despite their expectedly positive impact, demand-side transformations including demand reductions and broader behavioural shifts—a core component of the EU's current approach—may prove inadequate, should large system pressures from negative socio- and techno-economic developments persist.

Navigating through an energy crisis: Challenges and progress towards electricity decarbonisation, reliability, and affordability in Italy

Campagnolo L.
Membro del Collaboration Group
;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine and amidst COVID-19 recovery efforts, the energy crisis has put enormous pressure to policymakers to balance climate action, sustainable development, and management of the impacts of fuel supply disruptions and price shocks. Policy and market responses, such as liquefied natural gas infrastructure investments and use of every available fossil-fuel lever to make up for Russian gas supply cuts, are feared to trigger new lock-ins, jeopardising decarbonisation. This is also the case in Italy, which is highly dependent on Russia-imported gas. Energy models typically used to support such decisions take time to produce meaningful scenarios and, in times of crisis, are largely driven by highly uncertain parameters. This study uses fuzzy cognitive maps to engage with experts in a workshop and elicit their knowledge and perceptions with the aid of a questionnaire, towards simulating the impact of selected strategies and important uncertainties on the three pillars of Italy's progress to electricity-sector sustainability: decarbonisation, affordability, and reliability. In a framework of deliberation and simulation, experts displayed strong preference for renewable energy, compared to new gas infrastructure. Renewables were notably deemed to have positive impacts across all three sustainabiltiy dimensions and were found more robust against uncertainties, such as regulatory and political instability, which was highlighted as the biggest risk. Critically, despite their expectedly positive impact, demand-side transformations including demand reductions and broader behavioural shifts—a core component of the EU's current approach—may prove inadequate, should large system pressures from negative socio- and techno-economic developments persist.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5012323
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