Enel is on track to meet the time frames established in the NRRP (Italy’s National Recovery and Resilience Plan) and additional investments. In an interview with “Il Sole 24 Ore” (Italy’s leading financial newspaper) on January 13, Francesco Starace confirmed that Enel has been allocated €3.5 billion out of the €4 billion earmarked by the NRRP for network upgrades. As Enel’s CEO explained, a portion of this budget will be used to reinforce the capacity of low and medium voltage networks that bring energy to homes and businesses, enabling them to accommodate the energy production of distributed renewable plants. The funds will also be used “to support the electrification of energy consumption, delivering more capacity to those who need it, increasing power to 1.5 million delivery points,” as well as “to improve the grid’s resilience throughout the country, in order to handle extreme weather events.”
“Enel has been allocated €3.5 billion earmarked by the NRRP for networks. We’re on track to meet the time frames established by the NRRP and additional investments”
Francesco Starace, Enel CEO
Starace noted that, although the tender was delayed by a year, “we’re finally here: work has started on 24 projects across Italy.” Many projects are in the South, with “€1.7 billion for projects in Sicily, Calabria, Basilicata, Puglia, Campania, Sardinia, Abruzzo, and Molise, where there was more need, especially for resilience.” An additional 10% share, amounting to €350 million, was added to the NRRP funds by ARERA (the Italian Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and Environment) as an incentive to complete the work within the scheduled time frames.
Furthermore, the Italian government is also working to bolster improvement projects with REPowerEU funds. If these funds can be spent between 2023 and 2027, Enel would make “further investments of between 2 and 4 billion euros in both resilience and renewable capacity absorption.” As Starace emphasized, the possibility of investing more is proving to be essential, as the energy crisis has resulted in a significant increase in demand for connection to renewable plants. At the same time, “the demand for electrification is also growing: many companies in the paper sector and other sectors are phasing out the use of gas and switching to self-produced renewable electricity. For a year now, we’ve been recording an increasing number of requests for connection to solar panels, which is growing from month to month.” Enel could allocate these funds “to the networks or to other projects,” including addressing the “major issue of storage,” which is the other side of the coin: “If the percentage of renewables increases, we might need a greater quantity of batteries than originally expected and so there might be a dedicated chapter in the REPowerEU Plan.”
Meeting deadlines is crucial, and Enel will not be caught unprepared for this, as Starace pointed out: “We started two years ago with a training program for network technicians, in collaboration with Elis and 180 companies in the sector, and we calculated that we would need at least 5,500 specialized workers. We’ve already trained 2,000 people; the others will arrive next year. However, we now have a much larger pool to draw from, with another 10,000 applications for training.”
Enel editorial staff