Renewable energy’s race against time

Published on Wednesday, 14 December 2016

“Over the years, we have developed projects that have allowed us to be recognised as leaders around the world”

– Maria Patrizia Grieco, Enel Chairman

The transition underway

“Today we have an installed capacity of 36 GW and a diversified presence in 24 countries. With more than 1,000 plants around the world we have developed a diversified power generation mix that includes all the main renewable technologies, from wind power to solar energy, from hydroelectric power to geothermal and biomass energy”, stressed Maria Patrizia Grieco, Enel Chairman, in her opening remarks.

According to the WEO data, the growth of renewables has been sensational. In 2015, the installed capacity of green energy exceeded all new installed capacity of coal, fuel oil, nuclear power and gas. And this trend is bound to continue, as explained the Executive Director of the IEA, Fatih Birol. He underscored the main aspects of the transition underway and the great potential of renewable energy sources, the success of which bolsters the credibility of the actions and commitments undertaken by governments against climate change. But these do not seem to be enough.

“Climate change is mainly an energy problem. It is essential that governments set out clear rules to consolidate the role of utilities and encourage the development of a sustainable and profitable energy system”

– Fatih Birol, IEA Executive Director

Boosting green energy and efficiency

The IEA director stressed the urgent need to change gear and adopt a new cultural approach. The strategies outlined by countries for the implementation of the Paris Agreement will not be enough to keep the increase in global warming within 2°C. To stop the planet's fever, it is necessary to expand the development of renewables and reduce fossil fuel dependency in sectors such as transportation and residential and industrial heating. Mr. Birol concluded, “In this revolution, companies like Enel have a fundamental role to play”.

“Technological development and the uncertainty of the times we live in call for decisions that must be implemented swiftly. It is not a matter of making a revolution, but of common sense choices”

– Francesco Starace, Enel CEO

Toward a decarbonised model

The urgency for the global economy to shift to a decarbonised and efficient energy model was reaffirmed by Enel's CEO, Francesco Starace, who closed the meeting by recalling the scientific evidence of the effects of global warming, such as the increasingly rapid shrinking of large glaciers in Alaska, Patagonia and on the highest mountain chains in the world. Francesco Starace added, “Our strategy in mature markets is to close thermal power plants at their end of life and to replace them gradually with renewable technologies. This is a process that can be completed within 10-15 years”.

The real challenge of the renewable energy revolution, therefore, is not to beat fossil fuels, but to win the race against time to stop climate change. Maria Patrizia Grieco concluded saying, “The question now is how quickly can we shift our energy systems, our economies and our societies toward development models that are more inclusive and sustainable”.