A Zero Emission Tomorrow

Published on Friday, 23 October 2015

Reduction of renewable generation costs, smart and highly efficient electricity grids, strong action from the international community to fight climate change. The convergence of these three critical factors clearly shows energy companies the path towards low-carbon sources. This view is firmly shared by Enel CEO Francesco Starace, who reiterated the company’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2050, which was favourably welcomed also by  environmental organisations.

In order to achieve this goal Enel, the largest utility in the world in terms of customer base, has announced that it will no longer build coal plants. “We will no longer invest in something that takes 10 years to be built and by the time you finish, you find out it is no longer technologically viable. Nuclear is the same story, but even worse: a longer time cycle, as in the case of CCS”, said the CEO in an interview with the British paper The Guardian. “It is clear that the prevailing wind is blowing towards renewable energy and smart grids. I don’t think we were geniuses to follow this road. We knew this was right and I think everyone knows it, more or less”.

As shown by the results achieved through innovation and the evolution of technology, “a huge tide flowing that is not in our control, you can only decide in which direction you want to swim”, he added. Under Enel’s 2015-2019 Business Plan, half of the €18 billion allocated for growth will regard the development of green sources. A third of the investments will be spent in network infrastructure, while the rest will be used to complete existing plants, starting from hydropower  facilities. 

In a few weeks the countries of the world will meet in Paris for the COP21, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), where they will tackle the sensitive issue of climate change. According to the Enel CEO it is essential that an ambitious binding emissions reduction agreement, also tangible and realistic, should be reached: “What industry needs is a direction clearly indicated by an agreement by the big countries. “Once the direction is set, that’s it and we are OK.”. The transition to clean energy “can happen much faster and in a less complex way with some good regulatory frameworks, or it can take a long time and waste a lot of money the other way around” Starace concludes by saying.