Blackouts hit Italian cities as heatwave drives energy use

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Blackouts hit Italian cities as heatwave drives energy use
A pharmacy sign indicates the temperature of 46C near Rome's Spanish Steps on July 18th. Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP

Several Italian cities, including Rome, were left in the dark on Wednesday as power usage in the country soared to a record high amid sizzling temperatures.


As Italy continues to swelter in blistering temperatures, with peaks of 47C expected on Wednesday, a massive increase in energy usage for cooling purposes has reportedly pushed the electricity grids of several cities beyond their limits resulting in widespread blackouts.

The power outages came as energy usage across the country reached 57,85 Gigawatts, setting a new record high for 2023 and stopping just shy of the all-time record (60,5 GW).

READ ALSO: Most of Italy on red alert for Wednesday as heatwave set to peak 

Multiple neighbourhoods in Rome, including Torpignattara, Alessandrino and Tor Sapienza, have been hit by blackouts over the past 24 hours according to local media reports.

Besides leaving hundreds of people in the dark for hours on end, blackouts reportedly delayed the opening of several stops on metro line A on Wednesday morning. 

A number of comuni in the provinces of Taranto and Bari in the southern Puglia region have also been grappling with power outages as residents were without electricity for several hours on Tuesday.

Though local authorities said that they were expecting the issue to be resolved by Tuesday evening, it was unclear at the time of writing whether the power was fully back on on Wednesday. 

High voltage lines

An increase in local energy usage has pushed the electricity grids of several Italian cities beyond their limits, causing blackouts. Photo by Loic VENANCE / AFP

People in Naples have also been dealing with blackouts this week with outages in the Vomero, Fuorigrotta and Bagnoli neighbourhoods overnight between Monday and Tuesday. Issues were reported as persisting in some areas on Wednesday. 

Italy is no stranger to blackouts over the summer months, with major cities up and down the country frequently registering hours-long power outages as soon as local energy usage increases.

Last year, Milan experienced a long series of blackouts after a ten-percent increase in energy consumption caused the local grid to give in. 


The Italian government is currently working on a plan to enhance the national electricity grid, especially in and around major cities, with some 500 million expected to be poured into the project as part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR). 

But work, which is meant to be completed by 2026, hasn’t started yet, with Italy currently behind schedule on most of its PNRR objectives.


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