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Renewable energy and decarbonization of the energy mix

In 2016 in Marrakech, the twenty-second Climate Conference (COP22), a part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, was held.

Discussion, which was aimed at establishing procedures for implementing the Paris Accord beyond 2020, focused on transparency in monitoring, reporting and verification procedures and on the standards for the regular assessment and potential updating of the goals undertaken by the parties, as well as on progress in financial commitments, on capacity-building initiatives and on the transfer of technology between countries.

At this conference, Enel promoted a number of initiatives to make an active contribution and illustrate our sustainability strategy and our low-carbon profile in terms of renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grids and rural electrification. Combatting climate change is one of the responsibilities of a global energy organization like Enel as we seek to achieve full decarbonization by 2050, thereby contributing to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG 13).

Today, about 46% of the power Enel generates comes from zero-emission sources. In 2016, Enel installed about 2 GW of new renewables capacity, mainly in the United States, Latin America and South Africa, reaching a total installed renewable-energy capacity of 36 GW, which represents 43% of the total capacity of the our generation assets (83 GW).

This confirms the Group’s ongoing commitment to developing zero-emission power generation, as established in our Strategic Plan, presented last November, which calls for progressively increasing this percentage to 56% by 2019.
In terms of reducing CO2 emissions, the Group has redefined the medium-range targets for 2020 set in last year’s plan, reducing the value of specific CO2 emissions by 25% compared with 2007 (<350 g/kWheq). In 2016, this figure
decreased by about 3% compared with 2015, a reduction which was due to the greater use of gas fueled plants over coal-fired plants in the generation of thermoelectric energy.

In 2016, there was a general decline in the value of specific atmospheric emissions, with sulfur dioxide emissions decreasing by about 23% on 2015, a year when the value had increased temporarily for operational reasons, nitrogen oxide emissions falling by about 4% and particulates decreasing by about 15% compared with the previous year. These values are in line with the targets the Group has set for 2020 and are due mainly to the change in the scope of consolidation with the disposal of assets in Slovakia. 

A key element of our environmental policy is the gradual application of our internationally recognized Environmental Management Systems to all Enel Group operations.

The Enel Group has an environmental management system that covers almost 100% of all activities (generation plants, grids, services, properties, sales, etc.). The entire scope of operations is certified except for new plants and newly acquired or constructed installations, which require a certain amount of time for certification. The Group certificate provides full coverage of all operations and ensures certification of the Group’s environmental policy and program through constant monitoring, verification, revision and certification of all assets.

Within the scope of our nuclear technology activities, Enel is publicly committed to ensuring that our plants adopt a clear nuclear safety policy and that those facilities are operated based on standards that ensure absolute priority for safety and protection of employees, the general public and the environment. The policy in respect of nuclear safety is to encourage excellence in all plant activities based on a strategy that seeks to go beyond mere compliance with applicable laws and regulations and to ensure the adoption of management approaches that embody the principles of continuous improvement and managing risk in a safe, secure manner.

Water resource management

Water is an essential part of electricity generation, and Enel is fully aware that the availability of this resource is seen as being a critical part of future energy scenarios. Enel has long sought to enhance the efficiency of its management of the water we use, and we conduct ongoing monitoring of all power plants located in areas threatened by water scarcity at the following levels of analysis:

  • periodic mapping of all production sites in order to identify potential risks in terms of water availability;
  • assessment of the consumption of fresh water; > measures to optimize the use of sea water and waste water;
  • monitoring of climate and vegetation data for the various sites. 

Globally, Enel returns about 99% of the water used, and about 8% of the Enel Group’s electricity output used or consumed fresh water in “water-stressed” areas.

In 2016, overall water consumption totaled about 150 million cubic meters, a reduction of 14% from 2015 due to a reduction in thermoelectric power generation.

Within this figure for total consumption, about 4% was re used water. Specific demand in 2016 came to 0.55 l/kWh, a reduction of 8.3% from 2015, which is in line with Enel’s commitment to reducing water consumption by 30% compared with 2010 levels by 2020.

Preserving biodiversity

Preserving biodiversity is one of the strategic objectives of Enel’s environmental policy. The Group promotes projects in the various areas in which we operate in order to help protect local species, their natural habitats and the local ecosystems in general. These projects cover a vast range of areas, including: monitoring; programs and projects to protect specific species; methodological research and other studies; repopulation and reforestation; and the construction of infrastructure support to promote the presence and activities of various species (e.g. artificial nests along power distribution lines). Enel also coordinates the activities of the working group on Biodiversity Measurement, Valuation and Reporting of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which was created by the organization to enable companies to discuss how businesses can work responsibly to protect biodiversity in their own operations.