Italian utility Enel hopes to optimise its growing presence in renewable energy market by setting up a new subsidiary specialising in the development and operation of renewable projects.
Enel Green Power incorporates all of the company’s activities in wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and run-of-river hydro in Europe, North America and Central and South America. Its current portfolio stands at 4300 MW of installed capacity, a figure that it aims to increase substantially over the next five years.
The creation of a renewable energy division follows recent news that Enel is in discussions with Sharp of Japan over the development of solar power projects in Italy and the Mediterranean. Enel has previously said that it would sell a stake in its renewable energy business to help it cut debt.
Enel Green Power’s annual output of more than 17 billion kWh makes it the largest renewable energy generator in Europe. Its assets include 2513 MW of capacity in Italy, 374 MW in Spain, 573 MW in North America and 664 MW in Latin America. The company also controls Enel.si, a leading installer of photovoltaic panels in Italy.
“Renewable sources can give an important contribution to the security of energy supply as well as to the quality of the environment,” said Francesco Starace, Head of Enel’s Renewable Energy Division. “With the new company, we intend to substantially increase the installed capacity relying on water, sun, wind and the natural heat of the earth, in the next fibe years, thanks to major development projects and to targeted investments in high-value projects.”
Enel Green Power intends to be a leading player in the solar power market, which is growing at a rate of around 35 per cent per year, according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). Enel currently operates the 3.3 MW Serre Persano plant, one of the world’s largest photovoltaic facilities, and has also started testing at the Archimede Project, the world’s first integrated solar combined cycle project.
Enel recently posted strong results for the first nine months of 2008 but is maintaining its commitment to reducing debt to below EUR 50 billion. The company’s debt soared after its purchase of Spain’s Endesa, and now stands at around EUR 51.4 billion.
Enel is also planning to target the high-growth wind power sector as well as geothermal power, biomass and hydro. In Chile, it is currently prospecting two geothermal concessions with a potential output of over 100 MW.
In the biomass field, Enel sees important opportunities in Europe, and is currently working on pilot projects for energy crops in agricultural areas that are currently under-utilised.