The electrification of consumption and smart cities
So electricity must be cleaner and also more widespread: if upstream the energy transition is based on decarbonization and a shift towards renewable sources, downstream the scenario includes a progressive electrification of final consumption.
Change will affect the way urban areas are designed and built, as well as consumption habits. Cities and smart grids will become synonymous.
The electrification of demand – from cooking, to heating, to mobility – is a crucial challenge for energy networks, which are becoming increasingly digitalized.
The smart city model, the platform-city, will bring together moment by moment all the information coming from meters, vehicles, connected objects and devices, in order to streamline and distribute energy in a way that is efficient, sustainable, affordable and reliable.
In terms of mobility, as we get closer to our goal of parity between the costs of electric and internal combustion engine cars, charging infrastructures are also making progress. Our Group is doing its part, with an increasingly extensive network of public charging stations in Europe and in Italy.
A growing number of local administrations, from China to South America, are also deciding to shift to fleets of electric public transportation vehicles.
Thanks to the smart, real-time management of energy flows, prosumers – i.e., anyone who has a system to generate energy from renewable sources – will be able not only to meet their own needs, but also to give back any excess energy to the grid for more effective distribution. Drivers of electric cars will have the same opportunity thanks to two-way Vehicle-to-Grid technology that allows them to use their vehicles to store and feed energy back into the network, making it more stable.
The benefits of the energy transition
The energy transition is inextricably linked to international efforts to combat the climate crisis. The crucial step to achieve this outcome is to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions, mainly carbon dioxide.
In anticipation of the new global commitments that will be defined at COP26 in Glasgow (the 2021 United Nations conference on climate change), the European Union has officially set a goal to reduce emissions by 55% compared to 1990 levels by 2030 as a stepping-stone towards a net-zero emissions system for electrical generation by 2050.
Increasing electrification, especially in urban areas, leads to other benefits as well, such as environmental sustainability – starting with less air and noise pollution caused by internal combustion engine cars and heating systems that use fossil fuels.
In addition to the advantages for people’s health and the environment, it will also be beneficial for society and the economy. According to the Just E-volution study by Enel Foundation and The European House Ambrosetti (TEHA), a just transition will create up to 1.4 million new jobs in Europe by 2030, including up to 173,000 in Italy.
The energy transition, therefore, helps create shared value for society as a whole, contributing to the social and economic development of local communities and improving quality of life for the population, in terms of better services offered, more energy efficiency, and therefore less waste and fewer resources used.