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The future of energy: an interview with Francesco Starace

According to CEO Francesco Starace, “electrification” is the word of the decade

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The word of the decade is electrification. Enel’s CEO Francesco Starace recently stressed this at Capital Markets Day, where he talked about the Group’s strategic vision for 2030 during the launch of the 2022-2024 Plan. He then reiterated the concept in an interview for leading Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera”, last 1 December. Over the past ten years, “at one point or another, everyone has understood that renewables are competitive, convenient, and are the backbone of future electricity generation”. In short, as Enel’s CEO pointed out, “it’s a matter of public knowledge”: suffice it to say that “according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewables will grow fivefold over the next years.”

“With renewables, energy will cost less and we will not depend on gas. Electrification is the word of the decade”

Francesco Starace, Enel CEO

However, “this phenomenon extends beyond the world of electricity, because some rules are subverted when renewables are used for power generation,” said Francesco Starace. “Electricity becomes very cheap, and in a stable manner. Therefore, it becomes available for different uses. Transportation is being electrified today, followed by heating, cooking and many other uses.” Our direction is clear. Furthermore, “the more renewables we include in our energy mix, the less gas will impact Italians’ spending,” added the CEO, who had already addressed this issue on several occasions, when he had explained that depending on gas is “crazy” and “the sooner we get out of it, the better.” He reiterated this point during the interview: “We are used to depending on a variable to which a large part of our energy is linked, and which has a totally obscure trend. But is this right? Is it healthy? Is it useful for our wellbeing? And, above all, why does it have to be like this? If there was no alternative, I could understand it. But there is an alternative now, so why do we have to depend on this strange, crazy thing?”

Furthermore, during Capital Markets Day, Enel announced that it had brought its zero emissions goal forward to 2040: something the interview simply had to address. “We have already started,” confirmed Francesco Starace. “We have to progressively replace thermal capacity with renewable capacity, which we think is possible in Italy and Spain. What is the carbon footprint of our customers and suppliers? That’s what electrification is for. We have 4 million customers who use gas, but we are letting them know it is not convenient, and that electricity is cheaper. We can stop supplying them with gas, and provide electricity instead. We’ll make it by 2040.” So, in summary, “it’s not a problem, and it’s convenient for customers.” And not just for them: “The same goes for our suppliers. The sooner they electrify and phase out the use of gas, the sooner they will attract ESG investments.”

Finally, some thoughts on the impact that renewables may have on the environment. “There are mitigation strategies,” Francesco Starace commented. “As for wind turbines, I don’t think there are many other places in Italy where they can be placed. Italy is stronger in the solar energy sector, because solar panels are suitable for a smaller scale, and can be installed in a less invasive way on the territory, creating less of an impact. On houses’, warehouses’, and greenhouses’ roofs. There are millions and millions of hectares available on roofs. If we limited ourselves to this, we would still make it.”

 

Enel editorial staff