European industry’s commitment to fostering the transition to sustainable mobility and the role of EU in this perspective: Enel’s CEO and General Manager Francesco Starace and Volkswagen’s CEO Herbert Diess addressed these issues in a joint interview with “Affari & Finanza” (“Business & Finance)”, which was published on April 19. Two years ago, on the occasion of the World Economic Forum, they created the “European CEO Alliance” together with eight other Top Managers, with the aim of supporting the energy transition: a tangible commitment, as also shown by the more than €100 billion in investments planned to make their companies “carbon neutral” by 2030.
Joining forces for sustainable mobility today means accelerating “investments in electrification, which is the only technology that can help achieve the CO2 reduction goal,” Volkswagen’s CEO explained in the interview: “This all makes sense only if there are enough renewables.” According to Francesco Starace, it is important to collaborate “in order to understand which new models will be produced and what the needs will be”: in this way “we can build an infrastructure that needs to be ready now and which will be useful for many years.” Working for the creation of a European fast charging network is essential for electric cars to grow: “Collaboration will be key to understanding the technological evolution and the next generation of cars. We can develop charging networks in many countries where we are present, such as Italy, Spain, the USA and South America. It is a marathon, and we are only at the beginning.”
“A fast charging network is essential. We understood this as soon as we began investing in charging stations, to allow citizens to travel without concern. We started in Italy, and we will do it in Europe. I am also thinking of the United States”
Francesco Starace, Enel CEO
Enel’s CEO and General Manager explained this clearly: “The decarbonization process does not only concern transport, but also buildings and industrial activities. We need to increase the share of renewables as we move forward with decarbonization. To achieve the EU targets, it is necessary to add at least 30-45 gigawatts per year over the next ten years: it is a large amount. We need to double the current installation rate.”
Europe can play a decisive role in this area: “Two things are needed in order to accelerate: streamlining the permitting procedures and creating networks that are capable of taking this new energy to the places where it is needed. Furthermore, we need everything to be connected with a digitalized infrastructure by strengthening the existing one and building a new one in some cases.” It is necessary to speed up the permitting process in order to achieve this result in five years: as Francesco Starace emphasized, “This issue concerns all European countries.” If things go differently, “we will be at a great competitive disadvantage compared with the United States, where procedures are simpler.”
In the interview, the Volkswagen and Enel CEOs also talked about hydrogen. “It is very popular but it does not exist in nature. You have to produce it and that requires a lot of energy. The yield is not so high in the road transport sector: the costs are many and the miles travelled are few,” Francesco Starace pointed out: “I think it is far better for decarbonizing entire industries, those that are more energy-intensive such as steel mills, cement factories, chemical plants”.
Therefore the goal for Enel and Volkswagen is to create a European charging network, which is essential “for enabling citizens to travel without concern,” Francesco Starace said: “We understood this as soon as we began investing in charging stations. We started in Italy, and we will do it in Europe. I am also thinking of the United States, where great opportunities are opening up with Biden.”
Enel editorial staff