Starace: the pandemic and the energy transition

Published on Tuesday, 7 July 2020

“We are doing our utmost to ensure a fair energy transition, managing our important industrial heritage and looking to the future”

– Francesco Starace, Enel CEO

In this context, as underlined by Francesco Starace, a crucial point is to proceed step by step and give technologies time to evolve, because “you cannot do it all at once and well at the same time”. Many aspects will be clearer only “when there will be tens of millions of electric cars and when bus and truck fleets will change in such a way that they will no longer use methane gas, which still emits particulate matter”. At that point, we will be able to understand, for example, “which energy sources can be combined with electricity, or if hydrogen can replace kerosene or diesel”. However, this does not mean going back to the past: hydrogen “is not a source of energy, but a way to store it”, Enel’s CEO pointed out, adding that “there are other options too”. In order to be competitive and play its part in the transition, hydrogen “has to get rid of its heavy carbon footprint, as the current production from gas and coal has emissions equal to those of Great Britain and Indonesia combined”. It is “obviously fine” to produce hydrogen via electrolysis from renewable sources, instead, “but it is necessary to reduce costs by six or seven times over the next five to ten years”.

Finally, Francesco Starace analysed the possible effects of the pandemic on geopolitical balances, also in relation to the drop in gas prices: “I believe that these dynamics are also somehow not related to prices, as green technologies evolve and spread. Gas consumption in Italy is falling year after year and the growth of renewables can only confirm this trend. I now consider it a marginal issue. Of course, we will continue to buy gas from someone for some time, but we will need it less and less”. So, as a national system, do we need new infrastructures? “We have fewer regasification plants than Spain or France do. But, considering the lack of gas demand and the evolution of the sector, are new investments necessary? Another key question is: are we sure that renewables will cover 100% of the energy demand?”, Enel CEO concluded, pointing out that “perhaps there would be room for another regasification plant, so that in case of need we would be independent from the slavery of pipeline transport and, given the geopolitical instability that surrounds us, we would never have supply problems”.

 

Enel editorial staff