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ENERGY

Milan blackouts blamed on air conditioning as heatwave intensifies

A series of blackouts has left parts of Italy's economic capital in the dark for hours at a time in recent days, after power usage in the city soared amid temperatures far beyond seasonal averages.

Milan blackouts blamed on air conditioning as heatwave intensifies
The demand for electricity is coonstant rising in densely-populated Milan, says the head of the city's energy network. File photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

As northern Italy swelters in temperatures of up to 36C with high humidity, a massive increase in electricity usage for cooling day and night has reportedly pushed the city’s electricity grid beyond its limits.

Milan’s world-famous Duomo on Thursday was forced to cancel the evening opening of its terraces due to the blackouts, shops were left without light or air conditioning, and disruption continued over the past few days in “all four corners of the city” according to local news outlet MilanoToday.

Electricity supplies continued to cut out on Tuesday for “half an hour here, an hour there, two, three, or even 14 hours,” MilanoToday reported 

“Long and shorter blackouts occurred in several areas of the city. From Viale Fulvio Testi to Piazzale Macciachini, Viale Sarca and Viale Jenner, many buildings were left in the dark due to the breakdowns,” the report read.

It was impossible to see how bad the situation was overall as there was no list of affected areas or overview available from the city’s electricity provider Unareti, reports noted.

HEATWAVE: 16 Italian cities on alert with peaks of 43C

Unareti told the city’s local edition of newspaper Corriere della Sera the issues were being “resolved in the vast majority of cases in a few minutes”.

Energy consumption in the city has reportedly increased by ten percent as temperatures rose over the last week and by 35 percent in a month amid a series of increasingly intense early summer heatwaves.

Milan is already among the European cities with the highest electrical power requirements per square kilometre, equal to five times that of Rome.

The city needs an ever-higher power supply due to demand for electric appliances, as well as electric vehicles, Unareti’s managing director Francesco Gerli told Corriere della Sera.

He said the “increasing use of air conditioners” as well as the move away from gas appliances is partly driving the surge in demand in central Milan, which covers “a relatively small area, completely urbanized, quite vertical”.

“There are now entire neighbourhoods where the power lines are electricity: the gas network is not even considered,” he said, pointing out that residents are buying electric “induction hobs instead of gas cookers, heat pumps instead of boilers, electric cars”.

With demand for electric appliances rising and 30 percent of vehicles in Milan expected to be electric by 2030, Unereti is working on increasing network capacity, he said.

Milan residents affected by electricity blackouts can check the situation in their area via the Unereti website.

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HEATWAVE

Italy reports a surge in deaths this summer due to extreme heat

A series of intense heatwaves caused Italy's mortality rate to spike in June and July, according to a health ministry report.

Italy reports a surge in deaths this summer due to extreme heat

Italy’s heat-related mortality rate was 21 percent above the seasonal average for the first two weeks of July, the health ministry said in a bulletin published on Monday.

There were 733 more deaths in 33 major Italian cities monitored by health authorities between July 1st and July 15th than in a typical year – a 21 percent increase on the average for that period.

READ ALSO: Will summer 2022 be Italy’s hottest ever?

Some central-southern parts of the country, where the heat has been particularly concentrated, experienced a far sharper spike in the death rate: by up to 72 percent in Latina and 56 percent in Viterbo (respectively south and north of Rome); 56 percent in Bari (Puglia); 51 percent in Cagliari (Sardinia); and 48 percent in Catanzaro (Calabria).

June also saw more deaths than in a typical year in Italy, the numbers show: a nine percent increase on seasonal averages over the course of the month.

“This first analysis shows that the high temperatures and heat waves that affected our country in June and in the first two weeks of July were associated with an increase in mortality, especially in the central-southern regions most affected by intensity and duration of the phenomenon,” the ministry’s bulletin reads.

Italy, along with much of the rest of mainland Europe, has been battered by a series of heatwaves this summer that have fuelled forest fires and drained rivers.

The Po Valley in the north of the Italy, one of country’s most important agricultural areas, is currently experiencing its worst drought in 70 years, decimating the risotto rice farms that make up much of the area.

Average temperatures of between two and three degrees above the seasonal average were consistently recorded across the country between May and June, with spikes of up to 10 degrees in some areas.

Similar highs are forecast for August, with warnings from meteorologists that mercury levels could shoot up 10C or even 15C higher than the average for this month.

In July, factory workers across the Piedmont region went on strike after the sudden death of a worker at an automotive manufacturing plant was linked to heat exhaustion.

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