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Italy Orders Minimum Coal Power Output As It Rolls Back Energy Emergency

Italy’s Energy Security Minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin ordered on Wednesday that domestic coal-fired power plants operate at minimum levels as the country is rolling back some of the emergency energy security measures from last year amid high natural gas storage levels.

The minister asked electricity transmission system operator Terna to stop electricity generation from fuel oil and to reduce to minimum power production from coal-fired power plants, the Energy Security Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The move comes after the latest emergency and monitoring meeting showed that natural gas storage levels are reassuring for Italy’s energy security, electricity demand has dropped, and hydropower production has increased.

Last year, Italy, and many other European countries, implemented emergency measures to boost energy security and avoid energy shortages and blackouts after Russia cut off a large part of natural gas supply via pipelines. These measures included asking coal-fired power plants to be ready to step in to generate electricity.

Italy has six still operating coal-fired power plants.

After reviewing the latest energy supply developments, Italy is now stopping power output from fuel oil and keeping minimum operations at coal-fired power plants, to guarantee the national energy security, Fratin said.

“Gas storage sites at 82% full as early as the end of June and higher electricity generation from renewables have allowed us to implement these new measures aimed at achieving two goals: accelerate decarbonization while guaranteeing energy security at the same time,” the minister added.

The policy to diversify gas supplies allowed Italy to reach in advance its target to save 700 million cubic meters of gas by end-September 2023, Fratin noted.

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Early this year, Claudio Descalzi, the chief executive of Italian energy major Eni, said that Italy was expected to eliminate imports of Russian natural gas by the winter of 2024/2025.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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