Sardinia’s “Costa Smeralda” or “Emerald Coast” is one of the world’s most desirable tourist destinations but perhaps the best color for describing its future, and that of Sardinia as a whole, is green. Enel CEO Francesco Starace, recently set out the Group’s vision for “A completely green island, with electric cars at tourist destinations, both at the seaside and inland, with ports that are free from the diesel fuel of the ships that are moored there as they would be powered by electricity.”
Sardinia, which is also a region of Italy, occupies as unique position in the Mediterranean. It is far larger than other tourist destinations like the Greek and Balearic Islands (which is a clear advantage in terms of building wind farms and solar power plants), and could provide something of a test bench for the rest of the Mediterranean.
Enel, in its capacity as a Renewables Super Major, has an electrification plan for Sardinia. It is based on the island’s natural resources, specifically sun, wind and water, all of which are in abundance. Enel’s plan for Sardinia, like those for its operations elsewhere, is focused on the year 2030. And, as elsewhere, it will provide jobs, in addition to clean energy.
In specific terms, Enel X CEO Francesco Venturini believes that Sardinia could be fully powered by electricity without the use of natural gas.
According to Venturini, an extra 4-to-5GW of renewable capacity, along with around 1GW of storage capacity, could be enough to meet domestic demand.
“To build 5GW of solar capacity, you need about 25 square kilometres, which is 0.1% of the total surface of Sardinia” Venturini says.
“There was a European study regarding rooftop capability for solar and in Sardinia there was the average capability of producing 3.1GW of solar just by using rooftops. By just covering all roofs in Sardinia we would have 60-70% of the energy needed for basic use as of today,” he adds.
Venturini believes that, in order to achieve national decarbonization goals for the next years, it is important to start using electricity not just for certain things but for everything.
Sardinia is currently connected to the mainland via two undersea cables. A third cable, the Tyrrhenian Link, could be completed by 2027-2028, according to the Italian transmission system operator (TSO) Terna’s latest 10 year development plan.
The increasing electricity connection between the island and the mainland, along with the integration of growing renewable capacity, could allow Sardinia to skip the installation of new gas capacity and become the leading region in the decarbonization process, Venturini says.
According to the latest Terna development plan, more than 120 requests to connect renewable plants to the national grid were submitted in 2020.
As is invariably the case with renewable energy projects, there will be considerable economic benefits. Once the Tyrrhenian Link is up and running (and it should be by 2030, if not before), an extra gigawatt of battery power and 4 to 5 gigawatts of renewable energy (with respect to what is currently envisioned) could be installed. This would entail an investment of 15 billion euros between now and 2030 and could create somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 jobs.