Italy is an unaware country at times. On the energy front, what happened without us realizing it?
Â “In Italy we are witnessing a phenomenon that will be observed in other countries in a few years. In 2022 something – explains the CEO of Enel, Francesco Starace – It exploded before our eyes: 210 thousand photovoltaic systems were built on the roofs of buildings. In all, there are more than 1 million rooftop systems and another 300,000 will be built in 2023. All this indicates that the goals of the National Integrated Energy and Climate 2030 Plan are achievable. This form of distributed development of renewable energy sources is also possible thanks to our low and medium voltage digital network.”
In a strategic market like the energy market, is there a need for a European champion similar to, say, Airbus in aviation?
“Looking at the fate of European telephone companies, it is clear that they are now out of scale compared to the US giants. So the recovery of growth at the European level, on which Enel is progressing well, is an important issue and deserves more than one reflection, with a caveat ».
Â “Energy requires significant investment and scale remains a key factor for efficiency. However, we are returning from the energy policy choices that forced the former monopolists to lose weight. The Parsani Act required Enel to sell part of its generation business as a result of the Parsani Act. The restrictions introduced to start the competition must be rethought and transferred from national levels to Europe. Repeating the slimming treatment imposed on Enel in Italy would be further evidence of self-harm.”
It was a mild winter, and those who predicted an energy crisis were proven wrong. Now what is the reasonable scenario to expect?
• Mild winter helped. But the real discovery was the residues identified in the use of gas, which is a real reservoir within our consumption. A factor that allowed us to arrive in the spring with fewer empty warehouses than expected. In the meantime, agreements with various countries should make it possible to increase gas supplies and start up regasification plants to fill storage for the next winter. It should be noted that in 2022, Europe has installed about 56,000 megawatts of renewable energy sources which this year already contribute about 110 terawatt-hours of electricity, reducing Europe’s gas needs by 22 billion cubic meters. In the coming years, a similar if not larger move should be imagined. Therefore, there are conditions for overcoming the crisis caused by the war in Ukraine ».
What data characterize Enel’s activity in 2022?
One in particular: All of the major objectives of our plan have been met, despite a much worse context than anticipated. In the same period, the French nuclear crisis, the exceptional drought that reduced the production of hydroelectric power, and, finally, the disturbances in gas prices, which increased tenfold, came together. Despite the perfect storm, we have met the plan’s targets for interest, tax, depreciation, profitability, and I stress debt.”
The strategic plan includes the disbursement of 21 billion dollars. Why sell Enel?
“The sales are the conclusion of a journey that started in 2014 in two different areas: the Eastern European front and the South American front. In the first case, we left the markets of Slovakia, Russia and Romania because there were no growth prospects. While we were in South America, we started sales in countries that we did not consider strategic, namely Peru and Argentina. I remember that all of these operations had been in the making for some time and slowed down by the pandemic: the plan to get rid of this volume because it was affected by a two-year hiatus.
It announced 37 billion investments. What would they be for?
Â “To maintain the efficiency of our many assets and to continue our growth. About 45% of it will be directed to networks and another 45% is destined for renewable generation activities. The remaining 10% will go to customer related activities such as, for example, heat pumps, batteries, etc. In Italy, we will invest $ 6 billion annually for three years, an increase of 40% over what it was in the past ».
Enel has 500,000 charging points for electric vehicles, which should become 1.4 million in 2025. Is it possible to average more than 800 charging points per day for three consecutive years?
“This figure takes into account both public charging points along the routes and private ones. I mean, the latter is less obvious: no one notices the charging points offered to those who have bought an electric car. On Amazon in the US, we lead the top-up point sales ranking, so this figure of 1.4 million is achievable.”
Why is the Net Industry Zero Act in Brussels so important?
Â “It is a strong community-oriented business based on energy security and decarbonisation, complete with resources for those who invest in the sector, provided it achieves certain goals, such as bringing solar panel production back to Europe. All of this represents an opportunity for Italy, where we have great manufacturing capacity and innovation capacity.”
In Sicily it is building the largest photovoltaic panel plant in Europe.
Â «In Sicily, we have a very competitive technology thanks to our technologists and engineers who have returned from years spent abroad. The goal is to drive innovation on the solar panel front, overcoming the superficial view that the Chinese are the best at innovating in this area.
How to reach electric mobility, no later than 2035, and avoid setbacks?
– In the end, it is a matter of common sense: knowing in advance what scenario lies ahead is an advantage. Pointing out the times and modalities for re-converting the profession of car manufacturers seems to me an element of clarity that, while deeply troubling for some parts of the industry, makes no sense to wage ideological battles in one direction or the other. ».
Now Poste Italiane also sells electricity and gas. Is it healthy competition or conquest on the pitch?
– I think it’s healthy competition. And, among other things, it is better for the Post Office to do so, than for the financially weak operators, who, when they go bankrupt, cause problems for customers.”
I will not escape the frequency of rumors about the candidates to succeed him. what do you wish
Â «Enel is the largest Italian company by capitalization and one of the largest energy operators in the world. It is also the company that, earlier and better than others, has defined and implemented a strategy in line with the development of energy markets. I hope it starts from this awareness: whoever drives it should be able to participate in the world championship.
“Infuriatingly humble social media buff. Twitter advocate. Writer. Internet nerd.”
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Borsa Italiana, hearing commentary of 8 June 2023
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