Enel Aims at Doubling Circularity

Enel Aims at Doubling Circularity

Economic CirculAbility is the new Key Performance Indicator (KPI) developed by Enel Group to measure its circularity performance. The initiative adds to the wide-ranging set of circular projects and strategies that the multiutility has been working on since 2015.


At the 2023 World Economic Forum in Davos, Enel announced its goal of measuring its circularity and doubling it by 2030. The company presented Economic CirculAbility, a new KPI it has developed to measure the Group’s circularity by comparing economic performance (EBITDA, in euros) with the totality of consumed resources (fuels and raw materials, in tonnes), setting a target to double its value by 2030 compared to 2020. The announcement was made during the Corporate Circular Target-Setting panel, an initiative led by the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE), a global public-private collaboration platform created during a previous WEF that currently has approximately 100 partners between companies, public bodies, and associations.

“We decided to measure our circularity and double it by 2030 because we believe it to be part and parcel of our industrial and competitive strategy, as well as of our sustainability,” says Ernesto Ciorra, Chief Innovability Officer at Enel. “We want to be leaders in the energy transition and, to do this sustainably, we have to work so that raw materials are not consumed, but used and made newly available for future production cycles.”

The measurement of circularity has been one of the key elements of Enel’s corporate strategy since 2015, when the group started considering circular economy as a strategic driver of development. Its reasons included the urgent need to ensure a stable supply of materials. “Today, raw materials are available, but global demand is skyrocketing, in parallel with efforts to decarbonize energy production and industrial production more generally,” Ciorra explains.


Enel’s circular journey

Over the years, Enel Group has been able to identify a series of governance and digitalization actions to make its business more circular. A complete picture of the Group’s progress was provided in Viaggio nell’economia circolare del Gruppo Enel (Enel Group’s Circular Economy Journey), a document that tells the story of the company’s work in three spheres: new business models, raw materials (both in terms of predicting needs and impacts and developing and adopting innovative, circular solutions), and circular cities.

“Since the beginning, circular economy has been a strategic driver for the Group and has allowed us to make our business activities both more sustainable from an environmental and social perspective and more competitive in economic terms through the reduction of risks linked to raw materials dependence,” explains Luce Meini, Head of Sustainability Initiatives and Circular Economy at Enel. “To accelerate the transition toward circularity, the supporting digital infrastructure must be improved, in particular by fostering transparency and information sharing on materials throughout the entire life cycle, from raw material extraction to their presence in finished products, unlocking the possibility of pinpointing the most effective circular strategies.”


Forecasting instruments

There cannot be circularity without digital innovation. In the batteries sector, Enel X has presented a project, set to be completed in 2023, for the development of artificial intelligence instruments based on machine learning to forecast faults and anomalies and model the deterioration of next-generation lithium-ion batteries.

“Forecasting instruments are vital for issues relating to extending product lifespans,” Meini continues. “This goes beyond predictive maintenance, which is a fairly consolidated approach that we use in several of our plants, and can also be used more generally to understand, based on the asset’s conditions, the most effective strategy to implement between repair, second-life applications, reuse, or recycling.”


Enel X Way charging stations

The multiutility’s circular strategy is applied in various business lines, including Enel X Way, the Group’s  company that focuses on sustainable mobility and related assets such as charging stations. “We have been working for several years on products in our portfolio, rethinking their design to improve circularity,” notes Meini. “In fact, our main alternated current charging products use recycled polycarbonate as a structural material, with 100 percent in JuiceBoxes and 75 percent in JuicePoles. In 2022 alone, we installed 3,000 of these public AC charging stations. Enel has optimized the use of materials in their production, reducing the overall product weight by approximately 32 percent.”

One last example of a circular solution that has already been implemented is the recovery of end-of-life components through remanufacturing, so that they can be reused as spare parts, thus minimising the production of new components. Every single part is vital but it is through a 360-degree approach that performance can be truly circular.