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Molto Economia interviews Starace

Enel CEO talks about the year of the pandemic and the future goals

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The achievements in the energy transition, the commitment to a more sustainable and inclusive future, the challenges of the pandemic. In an interview with Molto Economia, CEO and General Manager Francesco Starace recalled Enel's 2020 and talked about the Group's performance also with regard to the targets set for its future. In the year of the pandemic, the value of the Group on the Italian Stock Exchange increased by ten billion euros, reaching the new record of 90 billion euros. This consolidates its lead position among the largest European companies in terms of capitalization, as well as its position as the second largest power company in the world. These results also demonstrate the effectiveness of Enel's strategy, which puts sustainability at the center and integrates it into business models, thereby placing it ahead of its time.

According to Francesco Starace, nowadays sustainability is "the only path we can take to properly guide the choices we make regarding the present and the future. This is where we have to restart in order to provide concrete answers to the new generations." The emergency caused by the pandemic "made us take a real leap into the future, projecting us five to ten years forward," the CEO explained in the interview, adding that 2020 was a year in which Enel set "a new record for solar energy installation." Moreover, 2020 distinctly highlighted the limits and risks of outdated development models: "In order to generate long-term value, it is necessary to adopt a vision that puts sustainability at the center of human activities. This model has been successfully tested for years. It needs to be adopted more and more, as it can benefit the environment, companies, people, and communities at the same time." It is no coincidence that "Enel's record capitalization represents nothing more than the recognition of a solid strategy that integrates sustainability into business models."

“Sustainability is the only path we can take to properly guide the choices we make regarding the present and the future. This is where we have to restart in order to provide concrete answers to the new generations.”

Francesco Starace, Enel CEO

"There is no contrast between competitiveness and sustainability," Francesco Starace pointed out: "On the contrary, it is precisely the adoption of sustainable strategies that makes companies more competitive, as they are less exposed to risks and therefore more solid in the long term." To meet the need for stability required by the markets in such a moment of uncertainty, "we launched the world's first SDG-linked bond, which is based on an approach that combines sustainability performance with bond issuances, and which indicates to bondholders the impact of investments on the corporate strategy." With regard to this, Enel has published the first Sustainability-linked financing framework, "which describes the link between sustainability and the instruments used."

These initiatives bode well for the achievement of the following "challenging goals," as the CEO called them: exiting the coal sector in Italy by 2025 and in the world by 2027, and replacing it with photovoltaic, wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal power; increasing energy production from renewable sources to reach 80% within ten years (it is currently at 54%); developing battery storage, hybridization, and green hydrogen projects to support the installed capacity from green sources, which is expected to triple by 2030; as well as "an 80% reduction in direct greenhouse gas emissions per kWh by 2030, from a 2017 base-year, to achieve zero emissions by 2050." Enel has very specific ideas on these targets, which are achieved "by increasing the share of renewables in the generation mix, by enabling change through reliable, digitized and resilient grids, and by working with customers towards energy efficiency and final consumption electrification." And by investing in transport, buildings, and industries. As announced last November by CEO Francesco Starace, the Italian Group plans to directly invest around 160 billion euros by 2030, of which around 39 billion are included in the 2021-2023 Plan (14 billion in Italy). A further 25 billion euros may be activated from the Recovery Plan, with a leverage effect of 78 billion euros on Italy's GDP and 108,000 new jobs.

"We have a world that wants to do, and politics has understood it. Now, thanks to the Recovery Fund, we also have the money," the CEO emphasized. "The Recovery Fund provides the opportunity to take a different path from the current one. Otherwise, it would not make sense. It is therefore worth investing to establish technologies capable of reducing the price of green hydrogen, that is the future." However, everyone's commitment is necessary and, with regard to this, simplification is essential when it comes to bureaucracy: "The road to decarbonization requires administrative tools that are adequate for the speed and size of the effort we want to implement."

 

Enel editorial staff

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