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(en) Sicilia Libertaria: The words of deception, Sicily as an energy hub (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Tue, 14 Mar 2023 08:11:53 +0200

Of the empty words that power circulates to ensnare people, many of them are in English. And there is one, in the energy sector, which is synonymous with trouble. It's the word hub. Unfortunately it is the term that more and more often accompanies Sicily. Politicians, entrepreneurs and environmentalists (we will come back to it) have discovered, goodness to them, that Sicily is in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea and that, goodness to them, it is a bridge between Africa and Europe. So they are trying to design an island that can become their energy supply. They want to take without giving, exploiting the historic condition of weakness (that too is imposed) and the complicity of the local apparatuses, interested in dividing up the cake or, more often, in begging for a few crumbs.

Let's start with fossil sources. In the first days of January, the Priolo refinery passed from the Russian Lukoil to the Cypriot Goi Energy, in that process of financialisation of the economy which means that the historic heavy industry of the Syracuse area has slipped into the hands of an international fund which, as the GKN affair in the Florentine area, he will have no qualms about using the ten thousand workers, directly and indirectly, as a bargaining chip with the state. It doesn't get better if you think of Gela, where the story of the energy hub has become the occasion, as we told in the last Special, to make the Sicilian town the Italian capital of gas. A gas, however, of which not even a drop remains in Sicily. The same happens in Mazara del Vallo, where the Transmed gas pipeline (named after Enrico Mattei because flattery is never too much) has become the most important Italian plant in terms of energy since in 2022 it led from Algeria between 23 and 24 billion cubic meters of gas, i.e. about a third of annual national consumption. Again almost all the gas went to Northern Italy. And there's more: on 10 January Eni and Snam announced the creation of SeaCorridor, "the company with equal governance", reads the launch release of the initiative, which will encourage "potential development initiatives in the value chain of hydrogen also thanks to the natural resources of North Africa".

Sicily therefore, as already happens in Gela with the Libyan gas pipeline GreenStream, confirms itself as a hub in the sense that it will strengthen Italian energy colonialism: the idea is to appropriate African resources - it is worth remembering that to obtain hydrogen the he fundamental element is water - to transform them into fuel to be used, especially in Northern Italy, and exported. Yes, because at the same time the Meloni government announced the resumption of an old plan that had remained in the drawers until now, that is the desire to extend the idea of the hub to the whole of Italy, making it a transit area from Africa to Europe as quickly as possible climate-altering of fossil fuels, with Sicily playing a leading role in this design. What is worse is that the same predatory mechanism is intended to be replicated with renewable energies.

For a couple of years, the regional office that issues permits (the Technical Commission for verifying environmental impact) has been inundated with requests for wind and photovoltaic plants: from 400 in 2019 to 600 in 2022. These are mainly of large plants that repeat the fossil (or rather capitalistic) mechanics of appropriating natural resources, in this case sun and wind, to make them an object of profit for the few. Because renewable plants, as the Sicilian researcher Samadhi Lipari has been pointing out for some time, in the face of an undeniable and evident considerable reduction in the environmental impact (which in any case is not zero) compared to fossil sources, require a smaller number of force/labor and, at the moment, provide for a much lower tax rate. According to the REGions 2030 report, in just two regions, Puglia and Sicily, so far over 70% of new projects on renewable sources are concentrated. And, contrary to what is believed, the Sicilian Region "has a good absolute number of single authorizations issued". And to say that the Region would also have a plan to prevent mega-plants. Alberto Pierobon, the regional councilor for energy who was then torpedoed by Musumeci in 2021, had drafted it. The document provided for a stop to too large structures, favored rooftop systems and identified 260 mines and 200 abandoned landfills for those on the ground. However, nothing more was heard of that plan. Thus entire territories find themselves at the mercy of companies with offices abroad or, as in the case of the Trapani area, of links with the mafia, just mention the story of the "wind power king" Vito Nicastri, convicted of external competition in a mafia association because considered the figurehead of the boss Matteo Messina Denaro.
Faced with the hundreds of renewable projects, therefore, the attention of the environmentalist world should remain high. Instead, some associations have decided to sponsor and lead the way in this hoarding of resources. In this regard, I will tell you an anecdote that concerns me. A year ago I found myself invited by Legambiente to an online meeting which denounced the stalemate of 12 mega-renewable plants. I took the opportunity to point out that the new infrastructures, certainly necessary, would in any case have had to develop a decentralized and grassroots energy because otherwise the oppositions of the territories would have continued to exist and would have even been justified. I was sharply criticized by Stefano Ciafani, national president of Legambiente, who proposed live the usual story "what is our fault if the sun and the wind are in Sicily and if the industries are in the North?". It is no coincidence that Legambiente, WWF and FAI have recently issued an appeal in which they ask the government to accelerate further with the authorizations

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