“The energy sector is undergoing a profound transformation, and the world is moving towards a 100% renewable future. We are in the midst of an epochal change that is proceeding through decarbonisation and is opening the world of energy to completely new scenarios, not only from the business standpoint but also relating to the way each of us lives, consumes and produces. Enel has had the foresight to grasp, before many others, the key role of renewables in the energy transition. It is a natural process, guided by financial convenience and greater sustainability. In 2021, the energy generated from renewables will represent over 50% of total Group output, compared with the current 38%. This percentage is destined to grow, in line with the objective of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050”
“Enel Green Power is a market leader: we will build around 3 GW of new capacity by the end of 2018 and in 2020 will achieve 4.4 GW of growth per year, record numbers that no other competitor in the world can boast. We are ready to do our part to revive renewable generation in Italy, which is working to define RES targets for 2020, both with the repowering of existing plants and with new innovative and technologically advanced solutions. Italy has good solar and wind resources, which will ensure that renewables can be competitive in the Italian energy mix, accounting for an absolute majority of generation by 2030. One of the key factors in the development of renewables in the short to medium term in the country will be streamlining and accelerating authorisation procedures. The sector does not need incentives, but rather a stable regulatory framework. In the meantime, we are celebrating our tenth anniversary by exceeding for the first time 100 TWh of renewable energy output in a year”
In Italy, Enel Green Power has about 14 GW of installed renewable capacity, including hydro, geothermal, photovoltaic and wind power: maintaining the efficiency of these plants, including through repowering, remains one of the main activities on which the company is focusing.
On the technological innovation front, in Sicily Enel Green Power has started the conversion of the 3SUN factory to make the Catania factory the first in the world to exclusively produce bifacial HJT photovoltaic panels, based on heterojunction technology (the junction of two different types of silicon, amorphous and crystalline) with particularly high performance. The new panels will go into production in March 2019, and will have a cell efficiency that is 22% greater than current levels. With the new investment, the Innovation Lab, which together with the 3SUN factory forms Enel's Sicilian technology hub, will also become a campus dedicated to innovation and an accelerator of youth entrepreneurship aimed at stimulating research in the energy sector. It will host local and national start-ups as well as major national and international research centres, and will have links with the world of innovation to create a meeting place for excellence in the field of innovative technologies.
For the Italian wind power sector, the challenge is digitalisation, big data and artificial intelligence. In addition to being an inexhaustible source of energy, a wind generator is also a huge source of data that, through new technologies, can now be collected to track the health status and performance curve of a wind turbine more precisely. For this reason, in Italy Enel Green Power has a series of innovative projects under way involving the wind farms located from north to south along the peninsula with the aim of improving efficiency and the predictive maintenance process.
Again in Italy, EGP is experimenting with new storage technologies, with the aim of boosting competitiveness. A crucial challenge will be storage coupled with renewables: flow batteries, now close to commercialisation, may be a viable future alternative to lithium batteries, especially for seasonal storage.
Another crucial frontier for innovation is big data processing. EGP is involved in initiatives to extract value from large volumes and varieties of information, exploiting technologies such as cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT). The projects also include second-generation infrastructure for data collection and the implementation of digital data governance processes to leverage information assets. The company is also working on a programme focusing on digital automation solutions for engineering and construction processes that includes, for example, robots for the installation and cleaning of photovoltaic modules and drones for thermographic inspections and analyses, performance monitoring and reporting activities.