Enel acknowledges the priority of the fight against climate change among its responsibilities as a large energy company and is constantly engaged in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its electricity generation, at the same time increasing the share generated from renewables.
Enel pursues its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050 with a strategy of gradual decarbonization which envisages the realization of over 9 GW of new renewable generation in the period 2015-2019 and the gradual disposal of the less efficient thermoelectric power plants (in Italy the closure of 22 plants is underway for a total of around 13 GW). As an interim step on the way to this goal, it has set, with the new industrial plan, a medium-term target in 2020 of a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to 2007, improving on the previous target (-18%). The 2020 target has been recognized as “science-based”, i.e. in line with the decarbonization levels required by science.
“Science-based target” is an initiative of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), UN Global Compact (UN-GC), World Resources Institute (WRI) and the WWF to stimulate companies to set greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that are in line with the requests of science to limit the increase in the average global temperature to 2 °C by the end of the century compared to pre-industrial levels.
Companies’ emission targets are assessed compared to a decarbonization trend based on the scenarios of the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the International Panel on Climate Change set up by the UN Framework Agreement on Climate Change. The scenarios set out 14 decarbonization trends to be applied to the main sectors of the economy, including for electricity generation.
Following a review of the emission reduction data and strategy, Enel’s target to 2020, in regard to CO2 Scope 1 emissions, was below the trajectory for electricity companies and consequently was approved as “science-based”. The target includes the operations to close 13 GW of generation from fossil fuels in Italy and represents a medium-term objective compared to the long-term goal of being carbon neutral by 2050.
Currently Enel is one of only 12 companies worldwide to have gained this recognition out of a total of 112 which have started the verification process, but are still awaiting approval.
Combating climate change is also one of the four UN Sustainable Development Goals that Enel is committed to, together with access to energy, access to education and contributing to the social and economic development of the communities of the countries where it operates.
Enel also takes part in the initiatives “Caring for Climate” (adopting the Business Leadership Criteria on Carbon Pricing) and “Put a Price on Carbon Statement” (using internally a CO2 price in its investment decisions), which are respectively promoted by the United Nations and the World Bank.
The challenges and opportunities of climate change
Net production by primary energy source (%)
Net electricity production by source in 2015 (%)
Net electricity capacity by source in 2015 (%)
Currently 45% of Enel’s power generation comes from zero emission sources. The new installed capacity from renewables in 2015 was almost 2 GW, mainly relating to wind technology (1.5 GW), in the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Uruguay. Today Enel can therefore worldwide count on plants powered by renewable sources for around 37,000 MW of net maximum capacity, which is 41.3% of the total capacity of the Group’s electricity generation assets. This plant enabled the total production of over 89 TWh from renewable sources during 2015, thus avoiding the emission into the atmosphere of around 58 million tons of CO2. Nuclear plant enabled a further 34 million tons of CO2 emissions to be avoided.
Compared to 1990, the baseline year for the Kyoto Protocol, the specific CO2 emissions(10) of the Enel Group fell by 34%. Specific CO2 emissions of 409 g/kWheq rose slightly compared to 2014 (+3.5%) owing to a reduction in hydroelectric generation (-11%) due to reduced availability of water compared to the previous, very favorable year, which entailed higher production from thermoelectric power plants, above all those using coal and combined cycle gas. Generation from other renewable sources other than hydroelectric rose by over 13%, going from 20.6 TWh to 23.3 TWh. Despite these results, mostly due to interannual variations, Enel increased its specific CO2 emissions reduction target to 2020 (compared to the values of 2007), going from -18% to -25%, setting a target for that date to produce specific emissions below 350 gCO2/kWheq.
For some years Enel has also been active in the voluntary emission reductions sector aimed at those subjects (companies, institutions, end users, etc.) which intend to monitor or neutralize their carbon footprint, in other words the impact in terms of emissions of their activities (events, publications, products and services, both internal and external). All the initiatives are associated with the “CO2 Neutral” brand registered by Enel in 2011.
Risks and opportunities
Enel recognizes a series of regulatory risks linked to climate change. The uncertainty of the political framework increases the risk linked to regulatory instability; in this sense the Paris agreement is an element of stability. As for the physical risk, the increase in the frequency of extreme weather conditions, such as floods alternating with long periods of drought, makes for a potential impact on power distribution lines and on the operation of power plants. The Group is aware of the physical risk associated with climate change and has started assessments in order to establish the impact of extreme weather on the level and quality of the electricity generation, distribution and supply service, in both the short and long term. During 2015, Enel included in its own environmental impact mapping system (MAPEC) the monitoring of extreme weather and the recording of the associated damage.
At a European level, in order to ensure full control of the regulatory risk, Enel has further strengthened its commitment to re-establish the effective operation of the ETS scheme, proposing the introduction of a Market Stability Reserve. At an international level, on the other hand, at COP21 in Paris, Enel supported a climate agreement that can strengthen the economic drivers for global decarbonization through financing mechanisms and the role of markets, contributing to promoting joint action by the private sector.
Among the main opportunities:
- decarbonization of power plants through massive investment in renewables;
- development of new energy efficiency products and services;
- promotion of the electricity in the transport and residential sectors.
Enel’s strong commitment to reduce emissions, as witnessed by the results achieved by the main sustainability indicators and indices (such as the Carbon Disclosure Project and RobecoSAM), contributes to attracting a growing number of ethical investors, further reinforcing the credibility of the Group’s low-carbon strategy.
Enel at COP21
As part of COP21, Enel promoted numerous initiatives to support the reaching of the climate Agreement, helping to involve and mobilize the private sector and category associations in the debate. The constant presence of senior management in the numerous working groups bore witness to the Group’s full involvement and enhanced the credibility of the messages. Enel, in keeping with its own commitment on the low-carbon front, supported an Agreement on common, long-term objectives which can give certainty and stability to investments and the introduction of instruments aimed at promoting the growing mobilization of private resources through financing mechanisms and market instruments.
The Agreement reached in Paris is an undoubted diplomatic success and offers an ambitious scenario to contain climate-altering emissions in the medium and long term, supported by a reasonably solid and credible governance regime. Despite the reduction objectives not yet being in line with the 2 °C goal, the credibility of the commitment rests on a new governance model aimed at overseeing the work of countries and promoting increasing ambition in the reduction commitments through periodic monitoring of emissions and publication of the results obtained. The objectives communicated by the parties will be revised every 5 years to reflect the “highest possible ambition” and will be subject to a technical review to guarantee transparency and the environmental integrity of the policies adopted. As for flexibility, the Agreement introduces two additional instruments to achieve the national objectives, which will contribute to increasing the overall ambition of the action and will enable full involvement of the private sector in low-carbon investments. As for mobilizing financial resources, Paris reaffirmed the commitment of the richest countries to mobilize 100 billion dollars per annum towards developing countries.
The outcome of the agreement confirmed the strategic vision of the Enel Group and the carbon neutrality objectives, which Enel had already set in 2009 with the commitment to achieve full neutrality by 2050. In Paris important progress was made in the right direction. The climate agreement provides the necessary legal framework, but the outcome of the agreement will ultimately be the responsibility of the individual countries with the determination to keep the commitments they have entered into and to create the conditions for the full involvement of business and society in order to set the basis for a new model of sustainable development.
Enel, together with 10 other international electricity companies which take part in the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP), presented the Powering Innovation for a Sustainable Future report, which analyzes the development of the energy sector in the United States, China, Japan, Brazil and India, across the range of its technologies.
Greenhouse gas emissions
The use of fossil fuels to produce electricity represents one quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions. Enel’s industrial activities contribute to the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) and methane (CH4).
In 2015 the direct emissions of CO2 equivalent (Scope 1) of 119.5 million tons rose by 3.5% compared to 2014, which was expected owing to the fall in hydroelectric energy production which was temporarily offset by thermoelectric production.
SF6 is used in high- and medium-voltage electrical equipment for its insulating properties and ability to dampen electric arcs which make it irreplaceable in such applications. The emissions into the atmosphere in 2015 totaled 6,378 kg, or 150 thousand tons of CO2 equivalent (23,500 - Global Warming Potential - GWP). In percentage terms, SF6 contributes 0.13% of the Group’s greenhouse gas emissions, an extremely limited quantity.
Specific CO2 emissions from total net production (g/kWh)
Total direct emissions - Scope 1 (m. teq)
As for methane (CH4), Enel reports the fugitive emissions due to the extraction of coal in the mines it owns. Following some sales of mines, in 2015 emissions totaled 3,065 tons of CO2 equivalent compared to a value in the previous year of 20,325 (28 - Global Warming Potential - GWP). Enel records the emission of ozone depleting substances in accordance with the Montreal Protocol, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC), halon and methyl bromide. The emissions of these substances totaled 24,892 tCO2e(11).
Scope 2 emissions (0.65 million teq) concern indirect emissions arising from the generation of the electricity purchased and consumed by the Company. Scope 2 includes the emissions of CO2 associated with the consumption of electricity purchased on the grid for civilian uses and for pumping in hydroelectric plant, since it is not possible to precisely confirm the producer and so they cannot be classified differently. In the second half of 2015 supply contracts were signed for the supply, for the Italian offices and power plants, of energy only from renewables and these will come into effect as from 2016. In 2015 Scope 2 emissions rose by around 3%.
Scope 3 emissions are the consequence of the Company’s activities, but derive from sources which the Company neither controls nor owns. It includes fugitive emissions of methane from coal mines which are not owned by the Company and those generated by the transport of fuel and waste. In 2015 the value was around 8.14 million teq, up by around 7% compared to 2014 due to the increase in thermoelectric generation and consequently the volume of fuel used.
(10) Total specific thermoelectric emissions from simple and cogeneration production: they represent the quantities of SO2, NOx, particulate matter and CO2 released into the atmosphere for every net kWh of electricity and heat produced by the Group from all the available technologies (nuclear, thermoelectric,
(11) The value obtained is calculated by converting the tons of each individual gas recorded (CFC, HCFC, halon, methyl bromide, R22 and freon) by applying the average Global Warming Potential value for the families of gas.