In the aftermath of the Russia-Ukraine war, the imports-reliant European country, Italy, will import gas from Qatar, which sounds like a ‘short-term solution’ to analysts. Russia’s gas imports account for nearly 40% of Italy’s total imports, as per global trade statistics 2021.
However, the decision taken by Italy is deemed to be a temporary relief to the European country and not really pulling it out of the situation completely. The imports in Italy are the main source of its energy generation. A more long-term solution lies in energy generation through alternative methods and measures.
Italy – A Heavily-Reliant Importing Country
Italy is one of the European countries which relies heavily on the imports of energy commodities such as fossil fuels. Fossil fuels such as coal and oil are the main source of Italy’s energy generation. According to Energy Information Agency (EIA), Italy’s energy consumption ranks it as the fourth-largest energy consumption country (the third largest if excluding the UK due to Brexit).
Represented below are the imports of Italy for the largest mineral fuels and oils (Chapter 27) in 2021. Retrieved from the global trade data, these commodities are further segregated on the basis of the HS Code classification of Subheadings (4-digit).
Crude oil is, no doubt, the highest imported energy commodity from Chapter 27 in Italy, with an import value of $29.9 billion for the year 2021. The imports of gas in Italy are the second-largest energy imports, with total imports worth $17.4 billion for 2021. Refined petroleum and electricity stand as the third and fourth-largest commodities, while coal at the last position among all.
Italy’s Gas Imports, 2021
Italy’s gas imports trends are represented by the shown chart below, retrieved from Italy’s import data. The data follows a time period spanning from the first quarter of 2020 to the last quarter of 2021. Hence, it covers a total time period of 2 years while providing trade trends and insights on Italy’s gas imports through the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic.
Italy imported the highest value of gas in the most recent quarter, i.e., the fourth quarter of 2021. The total import value of gas imports in Italy for the final quarter of 2021 amounted to $5.5 billion. The values are fluctuating throughout the year 2020 but rose in 2021 with minor fluctuations. This communicates that imports have grown in Italy for the entire period of 2021.
Top Import Markets For Italy, 2021
The major concern for Italy has been maintaining the energy generation in the country after the Russia-Ukraine war. As shown above, the European county relies on the imports of energy commodities, among which crude oil tops the chart. Russia is among the world’s top producers of oil and natural gas. Naturally, Russia is the highest importing country for Italy’s import of gas.
Italy imported the highest amount of gas from Russia, with an import value of $6.5 billion in 2021. Algeria is the second-largest importing country of gas to Italy, with $5.6 billion of total imports. Qatar is the third-largest importing country for gas to Italy, with a total value of $2.1 billion. This implies that Qatar is among the top trading partners of Italy for imports of gas. The decision to import gas from Qatar seems fair but not suitable enough in the long run.
Italy’s Gas Imports Alternative
According to this essential guide, 90% of global energy is consumed from non-renewable sources. These non-renewable sources include crude oil, gas, coal and natural gas. About 21% of global electricity generation is done through renewable sources. On a consumption basis, renewable energy such as solar, geothermal, wind, and biomass accounts for about 12.5% only. The trade of these fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas is harmful to the environment.
Acknowledging this, many countries and especially developing countries have started to build energy alternative methods and measures. This implies a lesser reliance on fossil fuels and more efforts put into energy generation through renewable sources. Solar panels are one of the most highly utilised energy sources. Many countries such as the USA and China utilise solar panels to their advantage.
The importance of renewable energy has risen in recent years and is largely due to the fact that the pandemic hit countries with a heavy jab. Although, many nations such as the European Union are working on their energy generation through renewable power such as hydrogen. This can also benefit Italy like other countries of European countries such as Germany and France. The European countries’ command of building renewable energy is growing more robust.
Italy’s Stand For Clean Energy Transition
Italy is joining the race now as its fellow countries propel their boat in reaching their targets. It has built more power grids in its own country and increased the number of solar panels to generate electricity through solar energy. Below represented Italy’s imports of solar panels showing how each passing quarter, the value of solar panels imports in Italy grew.
Perhaps, this is the right time for Italy to build more reliance on renewable energy sources like its counterparts in Europe, and lesser reliance on the imports of energy commodities such as fossil fuels. Italy needs to build more power thermal power plants and energy storage systems. This in turn will not only bring an overall growth in Italy’s energy generation in its own regions. But sustainable development will also encourage everyone involved in international trade.