Innovation and sustainability, today and tomorrow

Published on Monday, 12 October 2015

As the main Italian utility and a multinational company operating in more than 30 countries on five continents, Enel must face a double challenge: to develop tomorrow’s technological innovation and ensure that it turn into a common business practice right away. This is what the Group’s CEO Francesco Starace announced at the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference and confirmed to US magazine Forbes. "In the past I have already seen at least two essential breakthroughs in the electrical industry that experts in this sector considered unfeasible," said Starace. "Now we face another decisive moment, because cultural, economic and technological changes are inevitably shifting the market towards renewables".

It is therefore necessary, according to Forbes, that Enel’s future business development plans should match customers’ needs. This is why the company, which introduced the electronic meter on a global scale in 2001, is preparing to operate – starting in 2016 - new generation models that enable customers to increase awareness and control over their consumption. At the same time, the Group is strongly focusing on renewable energy, which represents over 50 percent of the investments foreseen by its 2015-2019 Business Plan. "Technology is constantly evolving. Our role as a utility is to be flexible and favour this change, inserting innovation into our production processes", the CEO explained.

However, the development of new technologies makes sense only if sustainability is at the core of corporate culture, as recalled by Starace at the United Nations Private Sector Forum 2015. One of the projects that are most representative of Enel’s approach is the Enabling Electricity programme, launched to grant access to electricity to the residents of rural and suburban areas of the world, whose beneficiaries currently number 2.5 million. The company plans to double this number over the coming years with off grid hybrid systems such as that developed by Enel Green Power in Chile, which enables the inhabitants of Ollagüe (a small isolated village at 3,800 meters above sea level) to have energy throughout the day.

"Who owns the sun or the wind? Energy is entering a new era, and our field offers incredible opportunities, if we manage to understand our present as we try to innovate the future”, Starace concluded.