If there is one piece of data that best shows Enel's commitment to the research and development of new energy efficiency technology, it's the €97million spent the Group in 2011. Money spent to aid new energy efficiency, generation distribution, electrical mobility and smart grid projects.
These initiatives are being realised thanks to the Group-wide Plan for Technological Innovation, which raised spending by 11.5 per cent on the previous year, demonstrating the company's commitment to improving the entire energy production process.
According to the Sustainability Report, of 2011's research and development investment, 64 per cent was aimed at reducing the impact of fossil fuels, with the ultimate aim of improving the environmental performance of thermoelectric power generation until it eventually arrives at its zero emissions target.
One of the most important fields of research for Enel has been into Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), named by the European Union and the International Energy Agency as a key part of the armoury in the fight against carbon dioxide emissions.
2011 saw the opening of the pilot CCS plant at the Federico II power station in Brinsdisi and the beginning of post-combustion capture of CO2 with ammine at a new centre in Spain, which runs alongside the Compostilla plant.
In the same year Enel also made stride with pre-combustion carbon capture, with the 16 electric megawatt trial hydrogen power plant in Fusina reaching its thousandth hour in service, a major achievement that has led to testing for a new gas turbine with General Electric, which uses steam in the hydrogen combustion process to reduce nitrous oxide emissions to under 100 mg/Nm3.
This level of innovation makes Enel one of the world's leading businesses with regards to the study and implementation of CCS technology, but it also invests heavily in making its power plants more energy efficient and reducing the level of emissions released into the atmosphere, which are already well below the legal limits.
One of the most important research projects that Enel is carrying out is ENCIO, which will see a new pilot plant realised at Fusina that will test materials capable of resisting temperatures higher than 700° and pressures of 365bar. These materials could then be used in coal-fired power plants with an energy efficiency of up to 50 per cent while reducing emissions by