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Italian energy giant Enel and Greenpeace together in aim to develop renewable energy

Former foes Greenpeace and energy giant Enel stand together in low-carbon push, Guardian,   , 22 Oct 15  New CEO, Francesco Starace, is taking the Italian firm in a new direction, investing in solar and wind to become the first ‘truly green energy giant’. Just a year ago the Italian energy giant Enel was in a bitter court battle with Greenpeace, which accused the utility’s coal plant pollution of killing people. Today, the two groups are firm friends and Greenpeace says Enel is on track to be the “first truly green energy giant”.

What changed was the observation by new Enel CEO, Francesco Starace, that the tide was flowing in only one direction for utilities – towards low-carbon energy – thanks to fast-dropping renewable energy costs, smarter and more-efficient grids and increasing government action on climate change.

“There is a huge tide flowing and you can decide in which direction you want to swim,” he told the Guardian in an interview. “The tide is not in our control – it is the evolution of technology. I think it is crazy if there is someone thinking that he can actually influence this.”

Enel, the biggest utility in the world by customer numbers, has taken the plunge and pledged never to build another coal plant and to be carbon neutral by 2050.

A few other major utilities, such as E.ON and Vattenfall are taking a few strokes in the same direction, but Starace thinks a flood of companies making similar waves is imminent. “You will have big surprises,” he says. “In the next 12 months you will see most of the companies more or less go the same way.”……..

He says the coal-fired power station opened in Chile this year will be Enel’s last: “Why would you put €1bn into something that takes 10 years to be built and by the time you finish, you find out there is no point in having it anymore. It is too slow to be fitting this world anymore.”

“Nuclear is the same story, but even worse: a longer time cycle,” Starace says. “Today’s nuclear technology – though not nuclear technology in general – is a dead end. The proof of it is that fact that these huge new plants are typically nightmares of engineering and construction.”

He says the reactors planned by French company EDF for the UK are the “best in class” of current technology but are the same dead end: “I admire that they have the guts to carry on but these plants are over-engineered and incredibly complex and very, very difficult to complete.”……..

Instead of fossil fuel projects, half of Enel’s £18bn growth investment over the next five years is going into solar and wind energy, ….

Another major European utility, Vattenfall, is selling its large German coal mines and power plants, again to focus on renewables. Greenpeace is looking to make friends with them too, suggesting they will raise the money to buy – then close – the coal assets.

And the former boss of another big German utility RWE npower, Volker Beckers, said last year that the fossil-fuel powered energy system had “reached its natural end”: he nowchairs a renewable energy fund and asmart grid company and is a trustee ofForum for the Future, the sustainability advisory outfit founded by environmentalist Jonathon Porritt……… http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/oct/22/former-foes-greenpeace-and-energy-giant-enel-stand-together-in-low-carbon-push

October 24, 2015 - Posted by | business and costs, Italy

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