Opportunities & challenges of the energy transition at Oil&nonOil

 In EXHIBITION, Oil&nonOil 2021 Verona

Oil&nonOil is the reference exhibition for the fuel distribution and storage network and new sources of energy. For the first time, it is scheduled alongside Asphaltica, the national road technologies and infrastructures exhibition

“The concept of sustainable mobility by now occupies a central role since, on national and European levels alike, it involves every sphere of our lives; inasmuch, it must be considered not in economic but also in social and environmental terms.” This is what the Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Alessandra Todde, said today in a video-conference for the inauguration of Oil&nonOil, the event scheduled until 26 November that since 2012 has seen Veronafiere attract the fuel distribution and storage network world and service stations, while also taking a look at the future of new energies and alternative mobility.

The Deputy Minister commented, in this context, that “the automotive sector is a pillar of industry and the economy in Italy, contributing 6.2% of GDP, 11% of manufacturing industry turnover and more that 5,000 companies”. “The sector,” she added, “is facing a series of critical issues, ranging from price increases, a shortage of semiconductors and the challenges posed by the ‘green’ transition. I firmly believe in a world where environmental sustainability is a dominant value, whereby companies invest in sustainable production models in full respect of the environment and people. Sustainable development is what enables our generation to its their needs and will allow subsequent generations to do the same”.

The opportunities and challenges of the energy transition, the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) and the Fit for 55 package adopted by the European Commission were the topics at the heart of the conference that opened the 16th Oil&nonOil: “PNRR: Italy: energy and sustainable mobility”.

The sessions were opened by the Vice President of Veronafiere, Matteo Gelmetti. Moderated by Riccardo Pilat, founder of Pilat & Partners, Deputy Minister Todda was joined by representatives of the association and political world at the conference, including Diamante Menale (Assocostieri), Flavio Merigo (Assogasmetano), Sebastiano Gallitelli (Assopetroli-Assoenergia), Silvia Migliorini (Federchimica-Assogasliquidi), Dante Natali (Federmetano), Marina Barbanti (Unem – Unione energie per la mobilità), as well as Davide Tassi (ENAV executive and member of the Csr Manager Network). Reports were also presented by Francesco Tufarelli, Director General for European Affairs of the Cabinet, Senators Paolo Arrigoni and Tatjana Rojc, and MP Guido Germano Pettarin.

After welcoming everyone present, the Vice President of Veronafiere Gelmetti said: “As event organizers, we feel a major responsibility to support business and promote the supply chains we represent. In this restart scenario, Asphaltica and Oil&nonOil are scheduled together for the first time in our exhibition centre. We have thereby created a new exhibition landmark entirely dedicated to the road supply and value chain: from infrastructures to fuel distribution and mobility services. We have decided to innovate once again and bring these two trade shows together with the aim of developing the smart roads of the future and a view to economic, environmental and social sustainability.”

The route for development and implementation of the PNRR was at the heart of the remarks by the Director General for European Affairs of the Cabinet, Francesco Tuffarelli, who mentioned that the true virtue of the Italian government – and European governments in general – will be to “realize what can be done with the various funds” envisaged in recovery and resilience plans and where to allocate these resources. “From this standpoint, it is clear that our responsibility is much broader since we will receive the highest resources deployed within the European Union,” he pointed out. Tuffarelli suggests that Italy is well in line with its objectives. Lastly, Undersecretary Vincenzo Amendola with the Minister for the Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, has decided to start launch a of hearings at the Department for European Policies of the Cabinet involving all associations, companies and sector entities are involved in the Fit for 55 package, which will thereby help “create a national platform and realize the impact of these measures”.

The Critical aspects of the energy transition and the challenges posed by the Fit for 55 package for the mobility and fuel supply chain, on the other hand, were the focal points of the report by Senator Paolo Arrigoni, a member of the Senate Commission for the Territory, Environment and Environmental Heritage. He emphasized that the ecological transition “must be pursued with the principle of technological neutrality” while combining “environmental sustainability with economic and social sustainability through sharing on a broader scale”. The Senator indicated that “if the goal is to combat climate change and decarbonise, we should accept that the enemy is CO2 and not cars with internal combustion engines”. Senator Arrigoni also added the need to introduce the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) to analyse environmental footprint of products or services along their entire life cycles. “As regards the ecological transition, which presupposes a change of paradigm, we must adopt principles based on pragmatism and technological neutrality,” Arrigoni noted

The role played by the air transport sector in the ecological transition was discussed by Davide Tassi, ENAV executive and Director of the CSR Manager Network. “The Green New Deal has set challenging objectives with a 50% reduction in emissions by 2030 and zero by 2050,” Tassi said, noting that the sector is now “investing more effectively” in biofuels and low impact fuels. However, “this is not the only possible strategy to adopt to make flying greener and less polluting”. In this regard, Tassi mentioned the development by ENAV of the revolutionary Free Route project which allows aeroplanes flying at over 9,000 meters to follow a direct route without having to keep to the sky highways, thereby helping to reduce consumption by 163 million kilos of fuel with a CO2 reduction of 512 million kilos.

On her part, Marina Barbanti, Director General of Unem (Unione Energie per la Mobilità), stressed the need for an “overall strategic vision” in relation to the transition. “The measures envisaged in the NRP are partial, limited and risk being ineffective in achieving the objectives,” Barbanti remarked, while nevertheless welcoming the Plan’s scope of action in a positive way. “These interventions are targeted but do not take into account the starting situation,” she added, recalling that 90% of mobility in Italy is powered by fossil sources which are in the focal point for a production and distribution system in the country. “It is important to promote new technologies but it is also important to allow evolution for existing ones,” she added, highlighting that Unem has presented a series of project lines to the government starting from the promotion of current infrastructures through low carbon fuels but without receiving a response. “The hope is that forgotten technologies can be included once more in subsequent parallel tools and that resources are identified for development and the conversion of production and distribution systems,” she concluded.

The same line was also taken by the President of Assocostieri, Diamante Menale, who highlighted the need to safeguard the industrial value chain while recalling the contribution of products such as biofuels, LNG or bio-LNG. “We have always paid close attention to environmental issues,” said Menale, who added: “there can be no energy transition without taking into account gas products and their significant contribution to the transition”.

MP Guido Germano Pettarin, a member of the Budget, Treasury and Planning Commission, highlighted the need for Italy to comply with PNRR timelines by implementing all resources by 2025 and presenting reports by 2026. Pettarin views energy and mobility as closely linked elements that must be dealt with quickly and in the same way. In his speech, he recalled how are being made on a European level to find common lines as regards the energy mix and classifications which are currently still very different from country to country. “This picture undoubtedly means we will have to work more closely together to ensure that individual countries and the EU work as a single reality in order to pool strengths and tackle weaknesses,” he added.

On her part, Senator Tatjana Rojc mentioned that “a transition of such proportions must be understood as a redefinition of broad-ranging segments of society, consequently involving suppliers, companies, workers and distributors, who will all be faced with epoch-making changes”. Inasmuch, “not a simplistic approach but a project defined in clear stages agreed with all players”. Focusing on the gas sector, the Senator – a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee – made it quite clear that “the energy issue, especially today, also involves Italy’s foreign policy in a very important way”. After commenting on “Russia’s renewed protagonism”, the very recent US sanctions against Nord Stream 2, the tensions between Poland and Belarus and the “expansionist ambitions” of Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya, Rojc indicated how “the intertwining of oil & gas, the migration phenomenon and foreign policy requires clear, coherent and consequential positions”.

As regards PNRR and Fit for 55, the position of Federchimica-Assogasliquidiis that liquid gas products in the supply chain must and can be part of the solution to the question of decarbonisation, which cannot be achieved only through a single energy source. Silvia Migliorini, Director of Federchimica-Assogasliquidi, said that “clear indications are needed from national institutions even in the forthcoming Budget Law, with specific measures to support demand and a change of course in relation to what is currently outlined in the ‘Fit for 55’ package, in order to send clear signals to companies called upon and ready to invest in increasingly decarbonised solutions”.

The Secretary General of Assopetroli-Assoenergia, Sebastiano Gallitelli, on the other hand, expressed concern over the Fit for 55 package under discussion in parliamentary committees, since it indirectly envisages the exclusion of the internal combustion engine (using petrol and diesel fuel) in coming years. “For us, this is a threat that may well represent a drift towards a failure to modernize the distribution sector,” he pointed out. “Operators risk divesting and no longer holding on to the assets at their disposal,” he added. “We must take this into account and demand working towards organic reorganization and modernization accompanied by public action with clear rules to provide operators with a horizon that enables them to plan their investments,” Gallitelli added.

The importance of bio-methane in accompanying the transition at the same time as responding to European Union objectives was highlighted by the President of Assogasmetano, Flavio Merigo, who pointed out that this resource has not been taken into consideration appropriately in relation to mobility. “We ask that biomethane-powered vehicles be acknowledged status as true zero-emission vehicles as is the case in Norway and Sweden,” Merigo remarked.

The President of Federmetano, Dante Natali, believes coordinated work on technology neutrality and the value of biofuels is necessary. The President of Federmetano recalled that the first version of the NRP did not encompass Biomethane, but later allocated about 2 billion to the development of this resource for the agricultural sector and not for transport. “We believe that biomethane is a valuable energy source and should be used in sectors where electrification is more complex. Our sector is doing everything possible and is well ahead of others in replacing fossil resources with organic ones,” he added, recalling that the network currently has 1,500 points of sale covering the entire country. “Our opinion on the PNRR is partially favourable. We would like the government to pay different attention to our sector that is also appropriate as regards the contribution it can make in terms of reducing emissions,” he pointed out.