Enel underlined its commitment to fighting climate change and supporting development the regions on the wrong side of the energy divide at the recent United Nations Climate Change Summit held in New York, outlining its plan to invest in the development of renewable energy, becoming carbon neutral by 2050 and offering access to electricity, in particular in Africa and Latin America.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon appealed to the 120 heads of government and representatives of the major multinationals who attended the summit to come to a new agreement for emissions reduction in view of the 2015 Paris Conference. Enel CEO Francesco Starace attended the event and stressed the business' commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2050.
At the annual session of the Clinton Global Initiative chaired by former United States President Bill Clinton, Starace then described the strategies the Group is using to achieve sustainability objectives that involve the younger generation by beginning an immediate change of the global energy and development model.
The common commitment to access to electricity called for in New York is already being carried out by Enel. The Clinton Global Initiative session emphasised that the energy divide that hinders the development of rural and urban areas of Africa, where 600 million have no access any form of electricity whatsoever. Starace presented the Group's strategy for the development of small grids, the spread of renewables and the support of local non-profit sectors, focusing in particular on the collaboration between Enel Green Power and Indian NGO Barefoot College.
The partnership between the Barefoot College and Enel has evolved into a rural electrification project in Guatemala, Peru, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Panama, Mexico, Brasil e Ecuador. The initiative is based on self-empowerment and sees women – who are often illiterate – travel to India to become Barefoot Solar Engineers, through special mode of teaching based on gestures and colours. After six months at the Barefoot College, they can install and maintain PV solar panels necessary for the electrification of their villages.
'In Latin America we have invested $1.1 million into of this model, training 37 women from 41 communities and nine different countries who are installing more than 2,400 solar kits, benefitting 15,000,' said Starace, speaking at the UN headquarters. And in the wake of the successful results achieved in Latin America, Starace announced that this experience is going to be repeated in Africa.
'We have just agreed on an additional $520,000 investment with the Barefoot College that will help train nine women from a number of countries in Central and Eastern Africa that we are entering to provide electricity to 400 households,' he said. 'The Group has offered to support the construction of the first Barefoot College regional training centre in Tanzania, where another 40 women will learn how to provide electricity to 2,000 households in their villages.'