Italian Member Committee Chair speaks to us ahead of World Energy Week in Milan

Posted on 25 September 2018

Marco Margheri began his career in the energy sector at General Electric. Presently he serves as Edison’s Executive Vice-President for Institutional and Affairs & Sustainability, overseeing the group’s advocacy activities at a national, European and international level. Since 2016, he has chaired the Italian Member Committee of the World Energy Council.

What are your expectations of this year’s World Energy Week in Milan?

The energy transition is posing challenges that go beyond the traditional role of the State and its energy systems, that’s why we envisage over the four days in Milan, the opportunity to push the debate on the transition. The week will not only serve as forum for discussion on key topics impacting energy such as innovation and digitalisation, but as an exchange platform to share best practices. Considering the high-level nature of the event and the experts that will convene to debate these issues, I’m expecting nothing less than innovative ideas and proposals useful for a competitive and inclusive transition. Least but not last, the World Energy Week in Milan will serve as an important stage for the relaunch and empowerment of the dialogue between the countries of the Mediterranean. Italy plays a central role for geographical and historical reasons.

How is the Italian member committee contributing to the wider European energy sector?

This year the Italian Member Committee celebrates its thirtieth birthday, we will do our best to be active and visible regarding national and European debates on energy issues. In Brussels there is much discussion on the energy transition, climate change and energy security. Being an impartial actor, which represents companies, institutions and other different players operating across the entire energy spectrum, the Italian committee has a strong overview and understanding of the issues impacting the Italian energy system as a whole. Given the historical circumstances in which we are operating, it is vital that we are cohesive.

How is Italy facing the challenge of the energy transition?

Our country has already proven to be at the forefront of the energy transition in Europe, thanks on the one hand, to an efficient mix in power generation based on renewables. On the other hand, natural gas and the strong commitment of our industry. Italy has developed a strategy that sets the ambitious target of 28% of renewables by 2030 and planned the complete phase-out of coal, which today represents approximately one-tenth of our energy generation to 2025. This effort will require a significant amount of investments in networks, energy efficiency, renewable generation and new technologies.

None of this can be achieved, or is possible without the proactive role of the private sector, supported by proper financial instruments. The issue of finance and investment is unavoidable, if we talk about the energy transition. Following the launch of the National Dialogue on Sustainable Financial System, in 2016, the Italian Ministry of Environment presented the Network of Financial Centres for Sustainability (FC4S) in Milan, April 2018. This is an initiative promoted at a global level by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), to strengthen the cooperation on the issue. All these important issues will be discussed during World Energy Week and will mark an important milestone.

What do you see as the three most significant trends in the energy sector right now?

Today, the sector is deeply shaped by three dynamics: decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitalisation. This is particularly true in Europe, where several countries have planned their phase-out of coal and some others are already completing the process, such as Belgium did in 2016. Furthermore, the deployment of renewable technologies with their zero-emission production of energy brings a new level of complexity for the system, due to the challenges of planning production, which, without storage capacity, must be consumed immediately. This influences the performance of the system as a whole.

In a nutshell, decarbonisation and decentralisation means the end of a predictable and programmed system, in which investments can be based on solid assumptions. Digitalisation is the dynamic factor which has the potential to completely change the role of the consumer and prosumer alike.