Italy Energy and Industry
Sources of energy. – The industrial and motorization development has accentuated the lack of energy for the Italy that it has to resort to massive imports of fuel; these imports strongly affect the external balance of payments. In our country coal is extracted only in Sardinia in Sulcis, but this production is in the process of extinction given that in 1976 the production reached just 1340 tons. The lignite, about two million tons, is extracted in Valdarno, Umbria and Sardinia. The situation is somewhat better with regard to oil (i. 108,550 t in 1976) which comes largely from the provinces of Caltanissetta (Gela) and Ragusa. New deposits have been found in Pisticci (Matera); on the other hand, the production of wells operating in the provinces of Piacenza and Parma decreased.
The production of natural gas is constantly increasing, from less than one billion m 3 in 1951 to over 15 billion m 3 in 1974. While the Padania fields are gradually being depleted, the utilization of the fields in the South is growing. (Sicily, Basilicata, province of Teramo and Foggia) and those of the Adriatic off the coast of Rimini, San Benedetto del Tronto, Ravenna.
The production of electricity is also on the rise. In 1958 the Italy it owned hydroelectric power plants that provided 36 billion kWh; thermoelectric plants, including geothermal ones, provided 9 and a half billion. In 1976 the production of hydroelectric plants increased to almost 41 billion kWh, that of thermoelectric plants to 115.9 billion. Another 2.5 billion are of geothermal origin and 3.8 billion are produced by thermonuclear power plants whose plants are located in Ispra, Frascati, Bracciano and Pisa. Thermonuclear power stations are located in Saluggia and Trino (Vercelli), in Foce Verde (Latina), in San Venditto-Garigliano (Caserta). Another power plant is under construction in Caorso.
Industry. – After the 1971 crisis, Italian industrial production, with alternating phases, is on the increase again, albeit at a very low rate. The alternation of more or less favorable economic situations has not always served satisfactorily to mitigate the conditioning deriving from structural problems that some branches and sectors of Italian industry have been denouncing for several years and which remain substantially open.
As far as the steel industry is concerned, the most important factories have been located along the coast, due to the greater ease of supplying raw materials by sea. For the production of cast iron, which in 1976 exceeded 11.6 million t, the blast furnaces of Trieste, Naples (Bagnoli), Piombino, Taranto, Aosta, Genoa (Cornigliano), Turin, Marghera stand out, but there are also other plant regions of lesser importance. For steel, whose production in 1977 was 23.2 million t (but with plant exploitation of less than 70%), Lombardy is in the lead followed in order by Puglia, Liguria and Campania., from Piedmont, Tuscany, Umbria, Val D’Aosta. Among the ferroalloys, the most produced in Italy are ferro-silicon,
The textile industry, which at the date of the last industrial census had about 600,000 employees distributed in more than 36,000 companies, is mainly concentrated in Italy northern. In recent years the production of this branch has been practically stationary (about 2 million q of cotton yarn and 2.5 million q of wool yarn) and only the wool industry has recorded a certain increase. The most important Italian textile industry is the cotton industry (about 155,000 employees) which processes raw material supplied from abroad and is almost completely centralized in Lombardy and Piedmont where 75% of the spindles and about 90% of the looms are located. Wool mills also depend largely on foreign countries for the raw material and are mainly concentrated in the Biellese, Vicenza, Lombardy and Tuscany areas. The hemp industry is in decline due to both the high production costs and the competition from yarns and fabrics from abroad. Synthetic and man-made fibers are increasingly competing with natural fibers. The factories are mostly located in Piedmont, Veneto and Campania; the 1974 production amounted to 1.5 million q for synthetic fibers, 2.5 million q for artificial fibers.
According to Globalsciencellc, the chemical industry sector is of fundamental importance because it underpins other branches of activity and requires large amounts of energy. The largest plants in the chemical industry usually arise where electricity abounds. The fundamental production is that of basic chemistry and in particular of ethylene (400,000 t in 1974); very important production is also that of fertilizers which find an ever wider use in agriculture. Rubber processing is also highly industrialized, mainly concentrated in Lombardy and Piedmont. Increasing importance is attributed to plastic materials that are now used for the manufacture of the most disparate objects.
The chemical industry, in addition to being important for the high value of its products, is often one of the most incisive forces of modification of the environment. Often the plants in this sector compromise the ecological balance; waste water from chemical industries ended up polluting the air, land and waterways of the most industrialized areas of the Italy northern.