Water is a clean and renewable energy resource that has always been used as an energy source and historically has also been the number one renewable source for electricity production. Today hydropower is by far and away the most important renewable energy source worldwide, generating 20 percent of total electricity production and over 80 percent of renewable energy.
Its importance is also mirrored in the Enel Group’s generation park, with around 800 hydropower facilities across 14 countries: Greece, Italy, Slovakia, Spain, the USA, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Peru. Their net installed capacity adds up to 30.4 gigawatts, 31 percent of the Group’s total capacity and just under 85 percent of renewable capacity. In 2012 production touched 69 billion kilowatt-hours, almost a quarter of Enel’s total electricity production.
Almost 500 of these facilities are in Italy, where Enel has 13.6GW of hydropower capacity that produces 90 percent of the renewable energy Enel generates in the country. However it also has a strong presence in Spain (4.7GW), Chile (3.5GW), Colombia (2.5GW), Slovakia (2.3GW) and Argentina (1.3GW).
Despite its established presence, there is still plenty of room for improvement and development of hydropower. Enel is investing in innovation and research that will increase security, efficiency and environmental friendliness of its facilities. For example a pneumatic device that lowers of the crest of the dam, which encourages the migration of certain species of fish, has been created at the Lawrence facility in the American state of Massachusetts. The Talamona plant in the Italian region of Lombardy has been equipped with technology that enables the continuous flow of water downstream from the dam that will soon be used at a number of different plants. The Ancipa plant in Sicily meanwhile integrates energy, agricultural and public water use.