Renewables come of age
The future of energy will no longer be the way it used to be. The world of renewables has come of age and is changing the face of the market.
This revolution was the topic of the twentieth edition of the World Business Dialogue in Cologne (March 6-10), one of the main international forums where companies and the academic world can come together and discuss the changing business scenarios that lie ahead.
“Today, the drastic technological break from the past in the energy industry makes renewables affordable, as well as an ethical and environmental choice,” explains Riccardo Amoroso, Chief Innovation and Sustainability Officer at Enel Green Power, one of the speakers at the convention.
There are two main factors that are changing the paradigm. On the one hand, there is a widespread availability of renewables: consumers today are also potential producers (prosumers). On the other, the costs for storage, i.e., batteries which could soon solve the problem of intermittency, namely inconstant availability of sun and wind, are becoming increasingly affordable. “In the field of renewables, the time of day when energy is produced is becoming increasingly important, but this year the cost of storage has dropped by 25%.”
Digitalisation of grids and the Internet of Things will make intermittency a problem of the past. According to Amoroso, “when software will integrate grids, it will be possible to modify power loads by controlling air conditioning, heating, and the refrigerator remotely.” Enel Open Meter, the new generation smart meter, is a step in this direction.
"In all emerging markets, the additional capacity comes mainly from renewables. The industry has come of age thanks to regulatory authorities. It now has an independent and competitive adult life with many global players that are entering the market and the need for continuous technological innovation"
Riccardo Amoroso, Chief Innovation and Sustainability Officer at Enel Green Power
The 2016 watershed
The year 2016 was a watershed year for many reasons. “Solar energy is a renewable source that has reached the greatest capacity, 70 gigawatts at global level, becoming the most affordable way to produce electricity compared to any other, including traditional sources,” explained Amoroso. This allows Enel Green Power to participate in supply tenders in many emerging countries at values that are absolutely competitive with oil, gas and coal, without mentioning the benefits in terms of environmental impact. Being present on most markets, therefore, allows diversifying risk and leveraging economies of scale at global level.
“Ask the right question” is the motto of the Cologne convention. The university students attending the event asked countless questions to the panel on energy which, in addition to Amoroso, included Harry Lehmann, Head of the Environmental Planning and Sustainable Strategies Division of the German Federal Environment Agency, and Jochen Schwill, CEO of Next Kraftwerke. For example, how do you innovate in the energy market?
“We believe in Open Innovation: we scout for ideas and innovative technologies among start-ups, research bodies and university spin-offs and bringing them inside the company in an integrated way,” concluded Amoroso. “Do-it-yourself in innovation does not pay off.