Italian power consumption has recovered slightly better than expected in the second half of this year, but the recent rise in Covid-19 cases could put an end to this trend.
Power demand totalled about 251TWh in January-October, provisional data from grid operator Terna show. This was down by about 6.3pc from 268GWh a year earlier, but the deficit to 2019 is turning out to be lower than Terna's forecasts. Chief financial officer Agostino Scornajenchi said in May that power consumption was expected to decline by 8-10pc this year compared with 2019.
Demand began to decline in mid-March as the government introduced lockdown restrictions that it only began to relax in May. April consumption was down by 17pc on the year, while March and May demand fell by 10pc and June consumption dropped by 13pc, according to Terna. Consumption started to show signs of recovery in the third quarter, with July demand dropping by only 7pc, August closing the deficit to just 0.3TWh and September bringing demand back to parity with 2019 for the first time since February.
Temperatures helped to support demand, moving higher than seasonal norms in August and September. In Milan, the maximum temperature on 1 August-30 September was around 1.1°C higher than the long-term average at 28°C, while in Rome the average maximum was around 29.5°C, compared with a seasonal norm of 28.4°C.
Italy's economic recovery has also exceeded expectations, with third-quarter GDP rising by 16.1pc compared with the second quarter, data from national statistics office Istat show. This was "well above expectations and surpassed average eurozone GDP growth of 12.7pc", prime minister Giuseppe Conte said in parliament. Industrial production in August grew by 7.7pc on the month and fell by just 0.3pc on the year, compared with a year-on-year drop of 8pc in July, Istat data show.
Restrictions to contain Covid-19 were tightened last week, but have not had a significant impact on power demand.
Consumption averaged 833 GWh/d on 26 October-1 November, in line with 832 GWh/d for the rest of October, according to Terna data. But new restrictions are scheduled to come into force this week, with some areas potentially heading into lockdown. Shopping malls will close at weekends and public transport capacity is likely to be reduced to 50pc, while movement between regions will be allowed only for limited reasons, Conte said. Museums and galleries will be closed, remote learning will be extended and a national curfew will be introduced, he said.
But the new measures will also divide regions into three tiers of restrictions. The high-demand region of Lombardy is likely to be included in the strictest tier, which could weigh on power consumption, although details of the new measures have not been disclosed. The restrictions scheme will be released before 4 November, Conte said.
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