Circular economy, new energy frontiers

Published on Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Futur-E, the project to "re-use" Enel obsolete power plants, a circular economy model at the XX edition of Ecomondo.

Not only green energy. To change the development paradigm and be able to deal successfully with the challenges of environmental emergency and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (these days at the centre of the UN Climate Conference at Marrakech in Morocco), the big players of industry and energy are called upon to review their growth strategies.

With this in mind, Enel has decided to change tack and turn sustainability into a priority tool of business planning. In addition to focusing firmly on the development of renewable energies (to which more than half of the investments of the industrial plan until 2019 are allocated), the electric company opened up to the opportunities offered by Circular Economy. The goal is to accelerate the transition from an economic and linear consumption system based on a consumer produce-consume- throw sequence to a circular oe, based on the model of the three R's: Reduce-reuse-recycle.The tangible example of this approach is the Futur-E project, for the conversion in Italy of 23 obsolete thermoelectric plants, launched nearly two years ago. An example that the company has brought to the conference "Circular Economy. An opportunity for the competitiveness and sustainability of the Italian production system", promoted by Enea as part of the twentieth edition of Ecomondo, the green tech trade fair held in Rimini from 8th to 11th November.

Speaking at the panel entitled "Circular economy: benefits for enterprises: successful business cases", Enel’s Head of Environmental Policies Luca Meini described the project and presented the company's outlook on the decarbonisation of energy production. The conversion and enhancement programme of the 23 plants in Italy, for a total capacity of 13 GW, Meini explained, represents an approach in line with the "circular economy". In fact, it provides for the recovery of traditional generation assets in favor of new and more effective forms of industrial reuse, materials recycle, social and cultural development, with the participation of the community through a dedicated "sharing platform". Through this process of creating shared value used to engage in the different phases all stakeholders at local and national level, Enel stands out as the first entity to carry out an operation retraining 'circular' of this dimensionis.

At Enel the approach to the circular economy paradigm does not only concern the enhancement of the generation assets project. Our company is working to identify and apply the principles of circular economy in different aspects of its business: from maintenance operations, to the adoption of innovative building solutions (regarding materials and engineering, and infrastructure). Other aspects include development in synergy with external innovation partners to increase energy efficiency and reduce its loss (smart grids, use of big data, digitisation), as well as increasingly reusing materials and equipment, the creation of new services for customers, car sharing, the promotion of electric vehicles.

All initiatives that confirm the path taken by Enel to switch from a linear economy to a circular and virtuous economy, capable of re-feeding resources into the production cycle, generating new value in a sustainable manner.

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