Get out of the gas with the rebuilding of the building mass

The real challenge that Italy faces gas lies in reducing addiction.

The many deals signed in recent months to find alternative suppliers they are good for Russia to cope with the emergency, but they are postponing the problem to the next international crisis if we are not able to reduce gas consumption.

In recent months, all political and media attention has been focused on new gas supplies via pipelines or by sea through carburetors, with new agreements from Angola to Algeria, from Congo to Qatar and on additional gas to be extracted from Italian seas.

But we really need that consumes 76 billion cubic meters of gas each year for electricity production, to heat homes and guarantee production?

The study, which Legambiente and the Kyoto Club asked Elemens to carry out on the most important part of gas consumption in Italy, was based on this question: buildings. In Italy, civilian consumption is worth 32 billion cubic meters each year, 43% of national consumption and contributes significantly to polluting cities and overheating the planet.

The results, presented in March last year, are interesting both quantitatively and from an industrial perspective. With targeted policies, a reduction could be achievedion of 12 billion cubic meters per year to 2030, an important part of which in a few years simply by reviewing the current incentive policies.

These savings can be achieved through the technologies already on the market and intervene to make existing policies more effective. The problem is that today there is none evaluation of the effects of energy rehabilitation policies in buildings.

The study is based on Enea’s data on incentive costs, equivalent to 27 billion euros in 2020, to calculate a reduction in gas consumption of only 0.3 billion cubic meters and with results that have been declining for years.

There reason lies in the fact that the various systems for increasing efficiency – from tax deductions for encroachments on private buildings, to energy efficiency certificates for encroachments from companies, to the thermal account for encroachments on public buildings – are not designed to reward the greater reduction of gas. Spending.

The paradox is clear, while we despair over our dependence on foreign gas, we are the only country in the world that provides boilers with superbonus by 110% compared to an expenditure that in 2021 was over one billion euros and is expected to grow next year.

Equally absurd is that those who make the absolute minimum with the leap of two classes (from G to E) are rewarded in the same way, and those who manage to reduce household bills by up to 80% with ambitious and integrated interventions that allow them to break away from the methane pipes.

ONE jump in scale and quality in energy qualification it is possible if we analyze the composition of the Italian building heritage and of the heating systems of the houses. A large proportion of buildings in Italy need intervention to reduce consumption, 70% of energy certificates relates to buildings in three worst classes (E F G).

In heating systems, gas is by far the most widely used source, starting from condominium buildings and city centers. On our peninsula they are 17.5 million (out of about 26 million) the homes they use gas boilers for heating.

If the goal is to reduce gas consumption, it is precisely in the most scattered buildings today – those where it is colder in winter and hot in summer – where integrated interventions must first be pushed, as with the most intelligent and effective insulation solutions of bl. .a. surfaces, replacement of heating systems, integration of renewable energy, makes it possible to reduce gas consumption. The perspective is clear, it needs to be corrected transparent objectivesanticipate monitoring of resultsbuild a constant dialogue on the part of Eneas and MiTE with designers and companies to provide continuity in the interventions and achieve results in the interests of citizens and the climate (see also Solutions for housing without gas, red).

The European strategy and the choices to speed up interventions in Italy

The road to be taken is already marked with the European strategy Renovation wavewhich aims to accelerate the energy requalification of the building stock and provides resources and intervention tools.

It is time for our country to define an energy recovery strategy for the building stock with clear goals for reducing gas consumption, prioritizing intervention over intervention and a review of policies.

In this way, we will be able to take the challenge of leaving gas really seriously and make it the driving force behind a new industrial policy that is capable of rebuilding Italian cities and creating benefits for families and businesses.

Elemens research estimates that intervenes each year at 3% of the building stock gas consumption could be reduced in a short time by more than 5.4 billion cubic meters / year to reach 12 billion cubic meters by 2030, corresponding to 41% of imports from Russia.

The problem is not the technologies that are widely available today, or the cost, because this would mean a change in existing policies. The challenge lies in ensuring that hundreds of thousands of yards are able to open reduce consumption starting from these 300 thousand of assets of social housing of the municipalities that are in a significant deterioration.

There are several policies to look at in other European countries that aim to make the construction sector a laboratory for industrial and environmental innovation.

For example, when replacing gas boilers with heat pumps, we need to look at Francewhich after the energy crisis caused by the geopolitical situation, decided to increase the incentive to support the installation of heat pumps to 9,000 euros.

As for improving the performance of buildings, we need to copy from instead Belgium to fromIreland.

The climate plan for the region Flanders aims to make energy reclassification of purchased buildings mandatory in 2023 as a minimum up to class D, with an intervention to be made by the buyer within five years of purchase. Furthermore, for new buildings it will be forbidden to have gas heating – if not in hybrid configuration with heat pump – and in 2026 the connection to the gas network will also be forbidden. This plan is supported by tax breaks and subsidies for heat pumps and hybrid systems.

In Ireland, in February 2020, a package was approved to support the improvement of buildings’ energy classes with the aim of rebuilding 500 thousand houses with an energy class corresponding to at least B2. The financial support consists of providing an incentive in the capital account of up to 50% of the expenditure incurred to carry out the interventions, in particular for people suffering from energy poverty, the full coverage of the intervention being provided.

Furthermore, the interventions that may have a greater impact on reducing energy consumption can potentially have access to an incentive equivalent to up to 80% of expenditure. The plan envisages an expenditure of 8 billion euros by 2030.

In Italy, we need to take action against policies and rules to give continuity to construction sites remodeling in the coming years. The first choice is about innovation, to be pushed into new interventions and rebuilding, inspired by what was decided in the Netherlands and the UK, ban on connection to gas in new buildings for heating from 2024, as the standards are already there Close to zero energythus almost zero energy and with renewable energy and heat pumps the benefits are enormous.

They go too all grants removed which still exists for the consumption of gas through rebates on VAT and excise duties, to shift the benefits against electrification of heating systems.

The market is ready because zero-emission alternatives are competitive and cost less. Instead of the populist controversy over subsidies for fossils, we really need to take care of those who are struggling to pay the warming rate, of the four million families at risk of energy poverty in our country. Today, we can do it in a new and more efficient way, but we must seize the opportunities that have opened up with the gas crisis and focus on the energy transition.

The third intervention concerns tax deduction system for energy rehabilitation, which must be completely redesigned to move from incentives linked to technologies to reward integrated interventions that greatly reduce buildings’ energy needs through the most effective insulation interventions, replacement of systems and networks, deployment of technologies for in-house production from renewable energy sources.

A consistent choice to make is abolition of incentives for mounting gas boilers (with the exclusion of 110% from the 2023 super bonus and even elimination from the 50% deduction in 2026), with a view to electrifying and disseminating heat pumps integrated with renewable sources.

Requalification required

If our country followed these policies at the same time, 3% of the building stock would be rebuilt every year, as envisaged in the new European strategy Renovation wavetakes it from an average performance of the final thermal energy consumption of 136 kWh / m2 / year (current average between housing and civilians) about 50 kWh / m2 / year and by electrifying consumption for domestic heating by focusing on heat pumps, gas consumption can be significantly reduced within three years.

In addition, this reduction will bring an additional benefit associated with reduction of accidents which takes place each year in relation to its consumption.

In 2019 alone, there were 270 incidents with 35 deaths. If, in parallel with the intervention in construction, we will be able to make the development of sources run in parallel renewable electricity release of at least 60 GW between projects still awaiting approval and construction projects biomethanewhich has a potential of 10 billion cubic meters, we will in a few years and structurally be able to reduce the problem of dependence on foreign countries.

We must understand that the era of methane that gives us a hand is over forever, we are in another century where we have to reduce consumption for national economic interests and the impact of the climate crisis.

The Elemens study highlights how, by focusing on incentives that reward those who focus most on efficiency, those who replace gas boilers with heat pumps and the installation of renewable sources, it is possible to reduce household bills in a structural way and with results as well. over 80%.

The time has come to take the challenge of leaving gas, which until now has seemed impossible, seriously and make it the driving force behind a new industrial and economic policy.

The article was published in the second monthly magazine QualEnergia n.2 / 2022 with the title “Alternatives to gas”

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