“Environmental issues have become driver for policies, also economic development ones. Whoever understands this will be more competitive in this 4.0 revolution. We are living a historic transition: circular economy will be the new 21st. century economy”
The future is now
Adopting virtuous management practices produces immediate effects on the environment and on the activities of those who pursue them. 2016 was the warmest year in history but, according to the scientific director of the Kyoto Club Gianni Silvestrini, global greenhouse gas emissions are stable since 2014, while the economy grew by 3%. Therefore, there is no longer a correspondence between economic growth and increased emissions. A disruptive information that is confirmed precisely by the Futur-e model: the circular design pattern allows, without wasting any resource, to fully utilise the production capacity of the plant and, therefore, recover value, benefiting the environment.
"A process summarised in 5 key moments is being shaped," Enel’s Head of Environmental Policies, Innovation and Sustainability Luca Meini explained at the conference in La Spezia. "Sustainable inputs do not affect only whoever takes the path of sustainable transformation, their effects are extended by using shared platforms and developing a product conceived as a service, precisely because it is based on the recovery of resources at stake and by virtue of the extension of its useful life".
“Thanks to its achievements in terms of smart grid projects, renewable energy and electric mobility, Enel has become the standard bearer of Italy’s energy transition”
If similar projects were adopted on a large-scale, by 2030 the production of industrial waste could be reduced by 17 to 24%, with global savings for around 630 billion per year and a 3.9% growth of the European Union’s GDP. To be noted also the considerable environmental benefits: the earth's temperature would only increase by one degree and a half against the presently forecasted three degrees.
Moving with the times
The great revolution connected with decarbonisation increases above all the sense of responsibility for environmental balance. Some of the most critical economies for the impact they produce on the Earth’s ecosystem are raising their awareness: Saudi Arabia is planning to develop a $2 trillion plan to free themselves from oil, China aims at having a production only based on renewable energy by 2050, while in Brazil wind power is cheaper than conventional fossil fuel production. Energy is increasingly at the centre of the global debate, and therefore information can no longer be limited to areas and technical representatives, but should be conceived based on an open dimension. Precisely what Enel and Futur-e call the "Open Power" vision, where energy issues are opened to an increasing number of people-users, new technologies, new ways of conceiving management, uses and partnerships.
“The important award granted to Enel at the last World Forum in Davos, where it was included among the six world top Circular finalists, is one of the finest examples that Italy can look up to”
A comparison between two models
Faced with the challenge of having to recover and re-employ as many as 23 power plant sites in Italy, with a total capacity of 13 GW, Enel has therefore chosen a break with past patterns.
There were two possibilities: staying on the traditional path of linear economy, or following what became the sustainable transformation model of Futur-e. In La Spezia Meini compared the individual development phases of the linear system and of the circular one to better understand the reasons for the breakthrough.
“The Futur-e project is part of Enel’s large-scale innovation strategy, which in addition to foreseeing investment for 5,2 billion euros over the next three years, is based on the spread of smart grids, digitisation, big data and predictive maintenance, as well as car-sharing”
"The linear scheme always requires a separate management of practices related to each plant – Meini explained - with interaction limited only to the authorities required by law and the local authorities as well as implying divestment and dismantling operations that generate large quantities of waste. In contrast, Enel’s four redeveloped sites have benefited from an integrated management with the aim of developing synergies, including all stakeholders in a structured and transparent pattern. Every aspect of each project was then shared to identify innovative solutions for the benefit of all, introducing circular solutions for the recovery and reuse of existing assets (whether they were buildings or machinery). Along this line, in the future nine production sites will be converted through "acquisition procedures for projects", another two by means of "real estate auctions." Finally, 7 others are object of conversion studies".
No longer just the company profits in terms of innovation and resources, but the whole of Italy’s economy, to which the Futur-e project provides relevant assets. In the phase of project evaluation, a sustainable sensitivity is encouraged by rewarding whoever adopts circular strategies, like best practices in site management (with the possibility of second-hand equipment sales, also on the website).
Finally, the conversion options leave plenty of room for various planning choices: up to now proposals have been put forward ranging from parks for extreme sports, motor racing circuits, centres for the cultivation of algae or commercial complexes for top brands, resorts, data centres or 3D printing and gas storage facilities.
Futur-e: a virtuous circle of production and responsible consumption that can improve the environmental conditions of the land and its inhabitants.