The sharp decline in hydropower continues and gas-fired power plants are also struggling. The current picture

Hydroelectric and gas-fired power plants are two pillars of Italy’s power generation mix, so a water emergency, such as the one that has been affecting the Peninsula for months, is a serious problem.

The gas power plants themselves, in fact, require water to function properly. For example, much water is used in cooling systems and is pre-washed directly from rivers and lakes.

Already in June, a state of water emergency in Italy forced the shutdown of about 2,000 MW of thermoelectric plants.

Due to the drought, thermoelectric power plants ‘risk reducing energy production by up to a third’.

And as the regulator (Arera) has pointed out, many sellers are struggling to find gas volumes on the wholesale markets with which to meet the expected demand for the winter months, due to the current high prices and uncertainties over the actual availability of an adequate gas supply.

In the meantime, the EU plan ‘Save gas for a safe winter’ came into force yesterday, 9 August, which envisages a voluntary cut in gas consumption of 15% between August 2022 and March 2023, calculated on the basis of average consumption over the previous five years.

The reduction will become mandatory if the Council (on a proposal from the Commission) triggers an EU supply risk alert.

The plan provides for a number of exemptions to the general rule of 15 per cent, because it takes into account the differences between member states, in terms of energy mix and interconnection capacity.

In essence, our Country will have to save 7% of gas, equal to about 4 billion cubic metres.

In short, the situation remains generally critical.