Adam Piggott

Gentleman adventurer

Italy’s green nightmare.

oil platforms

On Sunday Italy held a referendum on whether

to repeal a line in the 2016 Stability Law that allows drilling rigs within 12 nautical miles of the coast to continue operating until the field runs out of oil and gas

Italians voted in 1987 to ban nuclear power in their country. However, they’re quite happy to import power from other countries that have nuclear power stations. In fact most of Italy’s electricity comes from France and Switzerland. Banning nuclear power has been estimated to have cost Italians over 50 billion euros in that time.

It’s a very expensive example of the feel good, ‘not in my back yard’, or NIMBY option.

And now they want to get rid of their few offshore platforms which is also for the feel good factor. In these instances looking green is much better than being green. I’m sure they’re still going to drive all their cars much as they continue to import all that lovely nuclear energy from other countries. But the referendum will make them all feel great about themselves. They can proudly proclaim that they have made a statement to the world. And then on Monday morning they can get up, get in the car, and drive to work.

Renewable energy in Italy accounts for 17.1% of all energy uses as of 2014. I love the term renewable energy because it is very accurate – the energy must be renewed. But what happens when it isn’t renewed?

In 2015 hydroelectric power continued to provide the largest single source of renewable energy generated electricity in Italy at around 15.6% of national production. So that’s quite important for them. But what happens if it doesn’t rain and fill up the dams? Tasmania is a large island off the southern coast of Australia, a separate state with a population of over 500,000 people. Blessed with abundant rainfall it went almost 100% renewable. Until this year when the rain didn’t fall quite so much and the backup cable link to the mainland failed, causing their state government to purchase 200 temporary diesel generators. That doesn’t sound very green, does it?

If the sun doesn’t shine Italy’s solar panels won’t work. How much energy does Italy use at night? Australia uses 18,000mw. Then again, what if we have another major volcano eruption like Krakatoa whose explosion darkened the sky around the world for years afterwards? That will be a barrel-load of laughs.

According to wikipedia on June 16, 2013, renewables covered 100% of the entire Italian electricity demand for 2 hours. Wow. Knock me over with a feather. I bet there were a lot of factors that had to align absolutely perfectly to get that one 2 hour window. I wonder what day of the week that was. Was it Monday morning going to work? No, of course not. It was a Sunday.

Also from Wikipedia is this quote:

Italy has planned to subsidize electric cars.[17] Transport accounts for a large amount of fossil fuel use so a quick transition to sustainable transport such as electric cars and trams will be a key element of transition to renewable energy use


This is not renewable energy. It is still electricity and as we have seen Italy only gets 17% from renewables. So the vast majority of the electricity required to power those electric vehicles comes from coal-fired power stations, foreign nuclear reactors, etc. But once again, it feels good for the average person who has spent up big on their electric car to proudly drive around reveling in their superior green status.

This referendum could cost 11,000 energy sector jobs in Italy. The referendum itself cost 300 million euros to hold. But hey, I’m sure that Italy’s economy can afford all that. Well, it can’t, but once again, looking green is better than being green, which is also known as conspicuous conservation.


The misery of fruit-shop guy.


28th trait – The modern man associates with other men.


  1. ihavead0g

    “This is not renewable energy. It is still electricity and as we have seen Italy only gets 17% from renewables. So the vast majority of the electricity required to power those electric vehicles comes from coal-fired power station”

    italy generates around 40% of its electric energy from renewable.

  2. ihavead0g

    here is one source, there are plenty to be found online..
    Italy has always generated energy trough renewable, in fact it is one of the leading countries in solar power and hydro. In 2014 Italy accounted for more than 10% of global solar power capacity.

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