Scenaristi 2022 esterno Terna
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Energy transition: young analysts design the system of the future

The latest edition of Terna's Future Energy Scenarios, which form the basis of the grid development plans for gas transport and electricity transmission, has been produced by a team of young analysts ready and motivated to construct a more sustainable future.

The fight against climate change demands continuous effort over time to reduce CO2 emissions. Terna, the operator of Italy's electricity transmission grid, is on the front line of the energy transition and, in particular, is committed to driving sustainable development and the decarbonisation of the energy system. To this end, last August, in collaboration with Snam, Terna published its Future Energy Scenarios, a key report for the preparation of the gas transport and electricity transmission grid ten-year development plans. The report has been produced by a team of young analysts ready and motivated to construct a more sustainable future: with an average age of 30, Terna’s strategists and analysts are best placed to confront the challenges presented by the energy transition and, most importantly, feel part of the transformation process. They are the engine that drives positive change for their future.

To find out more, we spoke with Fabio Genoese, a dual Italian-German citizen and Head of Strategy at Terna for over three years who leads a team of ten people who share his passion for energy. «It's a team of young people, aged between 30 and 40, who are all passionate about their work because these topics affect them first-hand».

Scenaristi 2022 Pilotis Terna 2

The Terna Scenarios team: from left to right, Nunzia Riccio, Lidia De Nuccio, Livio Giorgi, Fabio Genoese (Head of Strategy), Gianluca Rimini, Aurora Manicardi, Francesca Raffo and Pierluigi Di Cicco (Head of Scenarios and Models) (photo by Terna)

With the spike in inflation sparked by the pandemic and ignited first by the energy crisis and then by the war in Ukraine, the energy sector has had to confront a series of “epochal” challenges and their impact on the transition process in quick succession. It is a crisis that could go on for years, with major impacts on our society. And yet if this historic period has taught us anything, it's that we need to abandon the old models and «imagine a different world», emphasises Genoese. To confront this evolution, Terna is putting its trust in young professionals and their environmental awareness, capacity for adaptation and desire to get involved. «It’s easier for young people to be open to change», but also «to outline future energy market scenarios».

In the document, aimed at reaching the European targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the operators have outlined five scenarios: two to 2030, and three to 2040. «This time frame enables us to effectively plan infrastructure because change in energy mix dictates how we, as grid operators, construct the new electricity grid».

Centro nazionale controllo service control room Terna

Terna's National Control Centre in Rome (photo by Terna)

Developing the future energy scenarios in the current context «has been very challenging compared to previous years precisely because of the energy crisis. Describing how the energy system is changing is not only relevant from an environmental perspective but also an economic one,» especially in light of the drastic rise in energy prices which is affecting the utility bills of businesses and households alike. For Terna’s experts, one thing is clear: «Renewables are the real alternative to Russian gas». These topics are particularly pressing for younger generations, and this is why Terna aims to attract talented young professionals to engage in the complex transition to renewable energy. «To develop future scenarios, it's essential to imagine a different world. Support from everyone is needed to make them happen and put them into practice, but to devise them, we need a team of young people».

In the 2030 scenario, focused on the targets of the Fit for 55 package - which sets the target of 65% of all energy demand to be met by renewables - Italy must install «70 gigawatts of new renewable capacity» and develop around 95 gigawatt hours of storage, of which 71 GWh should derive from large-scale storage systems. «This corresponds to an installation rate of almost 10 GW per year. In recent years we managed more or less 1,000 megawatts per year. In 2022 we’ll maybe hit around 2 to 3 thousand». This target can be reached through a balanced mix of technologically mature renewable sources (solar and wind), storage (pumped hydro and electrochemical batteries), network infrastructure and digital technologies that make it possible to maximise the extractable value of physical assets, in addition to efficient technologies for final energy uses based on electrification (electric cars, heat pumps, induction cooking systems).

It is a «challenging» target, notes Genoese, but «achievable», both from a technical point of view as well as in terms of the «market appetite», considering that to date Terna has received over 250 GW of connection applications from new renewable sources.

Scenaristi 2022 esterno Terna

Analysts outside of Terna’s central offices in Rome: from left to right, Livio Giorgi, Aurora Manicardi, Gianluca Rimini, Fabio Genoese, Lidia De Nuccio, Pierluigi Di Cicco, Francesca Raffo, Nunzia Riccio (photo by Terna)

«For comparison we have also developed a Late Transition scenario, both for 2030 and 2040, in which we don't reach the new European targets but those of the old Italian Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP). Under this scenario, we’ll reach Fit for 55 several years late (approximately 5-10 years)». The main difference compared to the NECP, illustrates Genoese, is that «under the old plan, renewables were mainly located in the North, but now with the update they are more concentrated in the South (especially thanks to the greater availability of solar and wind power)».

Then there are the 2040 scenarios «but these are more indicative as opposed to detailed 2030 scenarios: the Distributed Energy Italia (DE-IT) and the Global Ambition Italia (GA-IT)». Based on the Ff55 target, both of these scenarios define non-binding, intermediary targets aimed at achieving a net zero economy by 2050. The former scenario considers an increased penetration of electricity in finale energy uses, with the consequent need to increase the quantity of variable renewable sources, as well as electric storage systems and electrolysers to help contain overgeneration.

Instead, under the latter scenario, policy objectives are reached through the combined action of reducing consumption, developing renewables and the use of Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) technologies to capture emissions from industrial processes and combustion. In this scenario, the quota of programmable thermoelectric power remains higher and the need to reduce emissions in the sector is met by the use of green fuels, such as biomethane, and the use of CCUS.

Solar and wind are the two main candidates for Italy’s green future. But why? In recent months the situation has been characterised by dramatic changes to the climate that have led to more frequent extreme and unpredictable weather events. A system based on strong production from renewables should be most at risk because it depends on intermittent sources. «Unlike solar and wind, the hydroelectric system is characterised by greater seasonality. Rainy years are alternated with periods of drought. Conversely, the intermittency of solar and wind is mainly on a daily and weekly basis. Therefore, to cope with their intermittency, daily and weekly storage systems are sufficient, at least for the next decade».

But designing the network of tomorrow - catalysing the energy transition and guaranteeing the integration of renewables - needs young minds devoted to the “energy trades”, which are among the «most sought-after people on the market at the moment. Yet if you want to be part of this process, the best place to experience it is Terna,» which, as the «director and enabler of the energy transition, allows you to see the bigger picture, something that other companies, which only look after a small section of the value chain, cannot offer».

Young people are the drivers behind this change. «Going forward, we will remember our experience, our growth, because we have the possibility to touch the effect of our work with our very hands». Starting young «makes it possible to contribute to the change of our system», building the future and opening new opportunities. The challenge is daunting and demands resources, expertise, creativity and a forward-looking outlook. In a nutshell, it needs young people, and the courage to think big.

Fabio Genoese 2022 11 Terna

Fabio Genoese, Head of Strategy at Terna (photo by Terna)