From zero to one hundred
What does Victor Hugo have to do with a book on electric mobility released 132 years after his death? Nothing, apparently. Save for the fact that the dream of a world in which people and goods move only on board electric vehicles, traffic does not generate noise anymore and the air is always clean even on freeways at rush hour can only be achieved thanks to the strength of a vision and ideas. And it was precisely the author of Les Miserables who wrote that “there is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.”
This is the phrase that introduces the volume "100 Italian e-mobility stories” by Enel and the Symbola Foundation presented on the 30 May in Brussels in the spectacular hall of Autoworld. It is a book full of ideas “whose time has come” (and it is clear from the fact that in Europe one fourth of the emissions responsible for global warming are generated by vehicles). Not just one idea, but one hundred. One hundred stories, all Italian, of technological excellence, creativity, and design, stories of people and businesses from multinationals to startups, the contribution of which is making the dream of a planet traveling at zero impact - and with style - increasingly a concrete reality.
Just a few examples: a company (Archimedes Energia) that has super-efficient lithium batteries that power the first electric boat in Venice, a startup from Syracuse (Futuro Solare Association) which has designed the first low-cost photovoltaic car, a waste collection consortium (Cobat) which is developing innovative technologies to convert the batteries of electric cars at the end of their life into accumulators that can compensate for power fluctuations in the grid, or a historic motorcycle manufacturer (Ducati) which has invented the smart electric wheel that can be controlled via smartphone and is able to transform any bicycle into an e-bike in just a few steps. And then there are the other 96 ideas, often genuine strokes of genius that reaffirm what we already know very well: when it comes to ingenuity, Italy has no rivals.
Since we are talking about mobility, what really matters is going “from zero to one hundred.” That is to say how quickly these hundred ideas have been developed, almost from scratch, in a country like Italy where until yesterday electric mobility had been left aside: so much so that electric cars - whose motors boast today double the efficiency of combustion engines - still account for just 0.01 percent of the total vehicles in Italy as opposed to 10% in Holland and 25% in Norway.
However, in recent years there has been a sudden awakening that has generated a strong impulse to invest in e-mobility technologies. And now Italy, with a sprint worthy of a cross-country athlete, has covered the gap that separated it from the most advanced countries in just a few years.
“The European Union has decided that decarbonisation is one of its priorities and this obviously requires clean mobility,” says MEP Simona Bonafè who introduced the conference for the presentation of the book, citing also the new EU draft legislation on the issue that will soon be debated. “And we are here today to prove that Italy is able to be a leader along the entire electric mobility supply chain, with Enel which is a vital presence not only in Italy, but also at European level.”
The Group is investing heavily in the development of technologies such as Vehicle2Grid (in which the automobile plugged in at home becomes a battery that helps to stabilize the entire grid and generates income for the owner) and in the design of a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles with national coverage, which is a prerequisite condition to encourage the public to buy an e-car.
"We are planning on building in a short time a flexible infrastructure that can quickly adapt to the needs of the future, but above all that makes the life of the owner of an e-car immediately like that of someone driving a traditional car. Or even better"
Francesco Starace, Enel CEO
“Enel is the world's most advanced electric utility,” stressed the founder of Symbola, Ermete Realacci, who, among other things, is honorary President of Legambiente. He also stated that “it is able to create the conditions for a decisive boost toward the spread of electric mobility in Italy. It is a very important goal to reach in the short term, if we consider that in Italy more than 60 thousand people die because of fine particles every year".
"It is an enormous challenge that matches perfectly with recent statements by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who said that it is time for Europe to take its fate into its own hands. Well, we now know that in this field Italy can lead the way"
Ermete Realacci, founder of Symbola
As Starace and Realacci write in the preface to the book, “The hundred stories of excellence told in this volume show that Italy, despite everything, has risen to the challenge of a new era of mobility.” And they represent “a stimulus to head in the right direction so that electric cars can spread increasingly in Italy as well.” Put otherwise, they have the strength of a hundred armies. Not to win a war, but the more important challenge of leaving future generations a better world.