Today, charging infrastructure and smart grids are two pivotal factors in the development of e-mobility, the spread of which itself depends to a great extent on demand for EVs to support the more general sustainable transformation of transportation and the ecological transition.
Legislative, regulatory and financial commitment and the work of local, national and Community institutions are now also supported by entities like Enel, which are playing a strategic role. Our Group’s world-renowned skills and technologies will be crucial in delivering on goals such as the European Green Deal objectives which aim to make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.
Grids and infrastructure
Enel’s main contribution to achieving this goal will come from two divisions in particular: Enel Grids and Enel X Way. With over 45 million smart meters installed and 2.3 million kilometers of grids across eight countries, Enel Grids is the world’s largest private electricity distribution network operator. Thanks to the solutions of its subsidiary Gridspertise, it is working hard to make electricity grids smarter, more sustainable and resilient than ever. Enel X Way, on the other hand, is a new division dedicated to developing and making e-mobility available and accessible on a large scale to individuals, businesses, cities and public administrative bodies. It focuses on developing advanced solutions, technologies and platforms that are both simple and flexible.
Enel X Way’s commitment to developing e-mobility has produced some impressive figures: the company manages over 380,000 charging points across the globe, with a widespread presence in 12 countries across Europe, the United States and Latin America, thanks to interoperability agreements with other operators.
Enel X Way is the leading provider of public charging infrastructure in Italy and has installed around 16,000 charging points, 1,500 of which were put in place in 2022 alone. Its aim is to get that figure up to 21,000 by 2023. The public and private infrastructure we provide includes wallboxes starting at 3.7 kW, designed mainly for domestic or business users, and “on the move” charging infrastructure: we’re talking about quick charging stations of up to 22 kW, fast charging stations of up to 50 kW and more high-performance ultrafast charging stations. With regard to the latter, we will see more rapid growth in the number of HPC (High Power Charging) points which, at up to 350 kW, guarantee charging times of between 10 and 20 minutes. This makes them ideal for quickly topping up a vehicle’s range or most of it during long journeys.
Collaborating with the economic fabric
We have a long list of partnerships with major companies for developing our network of charging points. Enel X Way has already installed 114 charging points in 57 McDonald's restaurants in Italy. A renewed agreement between the American fast-food multinational and our Spanish e-mobility subsidiary Endesa X Way will see a further 150 charging points installed in McDonald's restaurants in the Iberian Peninsula, in addition to those already connected (156 with 80 more awaiting activation).
In 2021, we also launched a joint venture with Volkswagen that will see 3,000 high power charging points installed across Italy by 2025. They can charge the likes of the ID.3, the flagship of the Wolfsburg brand’s e-revolution, in a few minutes. And that’s not all: we have 31 charging stations in the parking lots of the assorted Leroy Merlin home improvement megastores across Italy: a total of 60 charging points, 10 of which use HPC (High Power Charging) technology.
Dialogue with the institutions
Our partnerships for developing charging infrastructure networks with public authorities and administrative bodies are equally strategic. In Sardinia, for instance, we won the “Expression of Interest” call put out by the Region for the installation of 574 charging points, 68 of which are fast and 40 are vehicle-to-grid. In Naples, on the other hand, Enel X Way recently won a tender to supply and install 60 charging stations which will include HPCs to help the city adapt to the growing demand for e-vehicles. In Portofino, in addition to various charging points for land vehicles, our agreements with the Municipality have already resulted in the opening of a new charging station for electric boats at the Umberto I pier.
A new energy carrier
Against this backdrop, strong growth in demand for e-mobility will ensure that battery-powered vehicles will become an increasingly important energy carrier in the future to keep the grid balanced while also offering straightforward mobility. By this we mean in particular bidirectional smart charging which will enable cars to connect to the grid and feedback the energy stored in their batteries into it during peak demand times and, in doing so, also make some money for their owners. This is why for several years now Enel has been doing its bit in developing bidirectional systems and, more generally, “Vehicle-to-X” systems, through which there is a “dialogue” between vehicle, grid and buildings.
The Flow Project
Another of our recent initiatives in this area includes joining the Flow consortium. This is a project financed by the European Union and coordinated by IREC (Institut de Recerca en Energia de Catalunya, the Catalonia Institute for Energy Research) to test and implement these systems. Enel Grids will be validating the integration of the system at the Enel Flexibility Labs, using Grispertise technology. It will also be enhancing the participation of e-distribuzione and e-distribución, electricity distribution companies in Italy and Spain, respectively. Enel X Way and Endesa X Way, on the other hand, will be leading the “Deployment and Assessment at Large Scale Demo-cases” working group which will be responsible for, respectively, the Italian demo in Rome and the Spanish one on the island of Minorca. Lastly, Enel X, our advanced energy efficiency and energy supply solutions company, will be making its own contribution to the Italian test through its energy asset aggregation platform.