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Francesco Starace: the energy transition journey

CEO Francesco Starace was the main interview in “Cleaning Up with Michael Liebreich”


Renewables, nuclear energy, hydrogen, and storage systems: these were just some of the issues concerning the evolution of the energy scenario that Enel’s CEO Francesco Starace discussed with Michael Liebreich during an interview for the 74th episode of “Cleaning Up.” “Over the last ten years, renewables have become the backbone of future generation: everywhere in the world, and not only in Italy. Today more than 55% of our energy is from renewable sources and we have passed the 50% benchmark,” Starace explained, stressing that, at the same time, there is also greater awareness of the fundamental role that decarbonization can play in combating climate change. In this perspective, Enel has further strengthened its commitment. Not surprisingly, as the CEO recently announced, the Group has brought forward its goal of complete decarbonization by ten years: not net zero emissions by 2040, but pure zero carbon. Basically, as Francesco Starace explained in November on the occasion of Capital Markets Day 2021, Enel will not take any emission offsetting measures, but “we will simply stop producing CO2” by eliminating all Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

“Over the last ten years, renewables have become the backbone of future generation: everywhere in the world, and not only in Italy”

Francesco Starace, Enel CEO

During the course of “Cleaning Up with Michael Liebreich,” Starace also talked about hydrogen, saying that it would not make sense to produce it from electricity in order to produce more electricity. Indeed, seeing as it is a “precious source,” it should be used in an intelligent way and, therefore, for complex applications such as the chemical industry, the production of fertilizers or ammonia, and the decarbonization of the steel and cement industries. And if very complex technologies are needed to produce blue hydrogen with the capture and storage of CO₂, then the challenge is to work on green hydrogen in order to make it economically viable. Succeeding in doing so would mean producing hydrogen without its CO₂ footprint and, therefore, immediately replacing the gray hydrogen used today – which is produced from fossil gas – with green hydrogen, thereby avoiding 860 million tons of CO₂ emissions a year.

In the interview, Starace also talked about his commitment as President of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), an international non-profit organization that works closely with the United Nations to speed up and deliver at scale the solutions needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7 – Affordable and Clean Energy) by 2030. In particular, Africa is where we need to concentrate our efforts and ensure equal access for everyone to energy: according to Starace, cities play a crucial role in this respect. Thanks to urban development, more and more people are destined to move to cities, where “their life will be better, the future for their children will be better and their opportunities will improve.” What happens in the cities of the world happens in the world: working towards electrification in African cities is “the major task” we must focus on in the immediate future.

Watch the full interview:



Enel editorial staff