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Italy on Track to Phase out Coal for Power Generation by 2025

Italy will halt the use of coal to generate electricity by 2025, opting instead to increase the use of gas-fired power plants, according to the Italian Energy Ministry. 

"The intermediate target of abandoning coal in the electricity generation mix as of Dec. 31, 2025 ... is very close. The updated (National Climate and Energy) Plan will certainly confirm it," Minister Gilberto Pichetto Fratin told parliament on Wednesday, as reported by Reuters. 

The island of Sardinia will be excluded from the nationwide plan, with the target date to phase out coal for electricity generation there between 2026 and 2028. 

While the European Union is hoping to phase out fossil fuels, it has recently embraced natural gas as a necessary “bridge” fuel in the energy transition. 

Last summer, EU  lawmakers voted to include natural gas and nuclear energy on the list of sustainable activities in line with its fight against climate change and its goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050.  

In early February, Germany earmarked $16 billion for the construction of four natural gas power plants to complement a renewable energy expansion push. And Austria has recently made its largest natural gas discovery in four decades—enough to increase its domestic production by 50%.

Italy has given the go-ahead for four new gas-fired plants over the past couple of years, which will be able to produce around 3,400 megawatts of power, with another 700 MW expected to be gained by upgrading existing power plants by 2026, Reuters reported. 

Italy’s Energy Ministry told parliament on Wednesday that the country managed to almost completely phase out Russian gas, which represented only 4% of Italy’s total gas imports last year. That Russian gas was replaced primarily by Algerian gas and imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Qatar and the U.S. 

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Italy’s winter gas storage is now 64% full, though this is expected to drop to around 45% by the end of this month. 

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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