A leaked draft of a new energy plan for Italy has left some wondering what direction the country’s new government will take just months after the last energy plan was released. Following up on a fourth Conto Energia, implemented in late spring of last year, the draft has been circulating online over the last month, spurring speculation about the plans of the country’s new government when it comes to energy issues amid a steady decline in domestic demand.
Much of the recent focus on the leaked draft has centered on the government’s likely reduction in solar subsidies, joining Spain and Germany with cuts to feed in tariffs and an overall decrease in the budget set aside for installation projects. However, reports of the new plan and its focus on shifting financial support away from some sectors has spooked investors and developers in the region. Government and industry officials have remained largely silent on the issue, suggesting it could be an incomplete draft produced by an industry group.
However the new plan turns out, the country now faces an increasingly restrictive energy environment thanks to nearly two years of set-backs and obstacles, both at home and abroad. Following a halt in imports from Libya last year, Italy faced the scrapping of plans to reintroduce nuclear energy after two decades, restrictive offshore regulations and new restrictions on crude from Iran as a result of European Union-backed sanctions. Coupled with the spending cut efforts on the part of the new Mario Monti government, including raising gas taxes to the highest in Europe, Italy’s energy landscape has become fraught with uncertainty.
Possibly signaling a component of a revised government approach, the country’s minister of economic development Corrado Passera said earlier this month that Italy should work towards using all its underused oil and gas fields to address the country’s domestic energy costs.