e-Mobility Revolution, changing gear in the present

Published on Friday, 17 November 2017

Enel is changing gear on electric mobility, and is doing so by taking the e-Mobility Revolution from Italy to the more than 30 countries in the world where it operates. On 9 November, on the outskirts of Rome, we opened a new path to help break down the limits that are slowing down the development of a new model of low-emission, green transportation.

At the Vallelunga racetrack, 40 kilometres from the centre of Rome, Enel’s CEO Francesco Starace, the Head of the e-Solutions Global Business Line, Francesco Venturini, and Alberto Piglia, Head of e-Mobility, e-Solutions Global Business Line, presented the Italian National Plan for the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructures: the e-Mobility Revolution.

Acting locally to speed up global change

It is an ambitious programme that provides for the installation of about 7,000 charging stations throughout Italy by 2020, and then doubling them to 14,000 by 2022, with investments of between €100 and €300 million. It will also serve as a pilot project, the aim of which is to create the conditions for spreading electric cars across Italy, and then replicate and adapt the initiative in all the countries in the world where we are present today.

Speaking at the opening of the event, our CEO stressed, “Electric cars are above all the combination of different industrial sectors, a unique and stimulating synthesis of technologies.” It is a synthesis that will allow us to transform the car into something different: not only a means of transportation, but also a service enabler that generates value for people.

As Francesco Starace added, electric mobility is a great innovation on which, today, many industries are inevitably placing their bets and represents above all “an incredible business opportunity that must be understood without fear.” And our company is doing its part in this perspective.

Enel’s CEO explained, “Our task is to equip the country where we live, Italy, as well as all the other countries in which we operate, from Spain to South America and beyond, with public and private charging infrastructures that allow the owners of an electric car to have a normal life and to have fun as you can do when driving an electric car.”

To achieve this and accelerate the e-Mobility Revolution, it is also necessary to promote a cultural revolution, dispelling the false myths about electric cars and, above all, the anxiety of autonomy, i.e., the fear of being left without power due to the difficulty of finding charging points.

Francesco Venturini focused on this aspect. The director of the e-Solutions Global Business Line explained, with numbers and data, how the life cycle of an electric car not only allows reducing CO2 emissions by 72%, but also offers greater efficiency: during its life cycle, with the same amount of energy consumed, an e-car allows you to travel three times the kilometres covered by a traditional car.

Of course, to overcome what is considered the biggest cliff, the fear of running out of energy, we need a smart and widespread charging network. “With the Infrastructure Plan, we want to eliminate range anxiety, i.e., the fear of being left without energy, for those who drive an electric car,” stressed Venturini, adding: “For this reason, we will set up a capillary network that will contribute to increasing the number of electric cars circulating in Italy, involving all those in the public and private sectors who believe, as we do, in Italy and in our ability to innovate.” It is a model to be developed and replicated at a global level, in the different countries where we operate.

Our project, which will be led by the e-Solutions Global Business Line, has a broad scope and wants to deploy effective and tested tools to take electric mobility anywhere in the world. In this way, we want to contribute to the decarbonisation of transport through electricity, which is now the most sustainable energy carrier. And in the future, it will become increasingly so: according to current trends, the share of electricity produced from renewable energy sources will increase globally in the coming years, while the share of electricity generated from fossil fuels will decrease, with benefits in terms of CO2 emissions. This will make the production of electricity and its use, including charging electric cars, much greener.

From the wheel to the grid: the road to innovation

Unceasing technological evolution is driving change even in transportation. And innovation today allows us to transform electric cars into tools at the service of energy. Electric vehicles, in fact, are batteries on four wheels: real storage systems distributed throughout the territory, which can support the electricity grid thanks to technologies like Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) that we have developed in partnership with Nissan and the Californian company Nuvve.

In order to understand how to leverage the capacity of these vehicles to optimise the electricity system and in particular to integrate the energy produced from renewables into the grid, Enel has joined the Parker Project. The programme, currently underway in Denmark, is being carried out with the collaboration of companies from different sectors (automotive, energy, IT), and already in the first few months, it has demonstrated the effectiveness of the V2G: a two-way charging infrastructure that, by connecting the car battery to the network, allows you to charge and transfer energy. It is a cross-brand service that gives electric vehicles, even of different brands, the possibility to offer services to the grid, such as frequency regulation and peak voltage balancing.

As Alberto Piglia explained, “For us, V2G offers important business opportunities and we are making great progress in the advancement of this technology within the overall development of the smart grid, so we can ensure a balanced power supply system based on renewable energy."

Our company is open to partnerships like that with the Parker Project, with the aim of sharing our experience and being ready to keep up with the changes and opportunities offered by technological progress.

On the track for today’s and tomorrow’s e-Mobility

Enel’s CEO Francesco Starace concluded saying, “All innovations have one thing in common: they take time to be accepted. Up to a few years ago, there were those who claimed that renewable energies would not be successful. Similarly, today there are those who believe that electric mobility will not last. We are convinced of the opposite.”

This conviction has led us to create, at the Vallelunga racetrack, a cutting-edge technological centre where, through collaboration with research institutes and startups from all over the world, we will continue developing innovation in electric mobility. On the historic racetrack just outside Rome, designed by the driver and designer Piero Taruffi, we have already installed 20 charging units with our technology. The innovation centre will test new technologies, from next-generation charging stations to management software, and will be able to rely on the added value of the expertise in road safety and sports racing skills of Aci Vallelunga, the company that manages the racetrack.

In terms of innovation, at Vallelunga, our Group also presented the new “quick” charging station designed by Marco Susani and Defne Koz. It is a new design for our urban charging infrastructure that will allow us to increase interaction with customers and that, through integration with technological features such as wireless, Bluetooth, WiFi and NFC (Near Field Communication), will enable new services for customers. We will thus be able to equip the charging points with new functions, which basically pivot on remote control and management through the Cloud platform called Electro Mobility Management System (EMM), which allows the monitoring and management of all workstations remotely.

On 9 November, at Vallelunga, just a few kilometres from our headquarters, we started to write a new chapter in the history of energy, designing new paths of innovation and sustainable future.