Europe is last in line for investment these days because it has no long-term energy strategy, says the head of Enel Green Power, Francesco Venturini, in an exclusive interview with Energy Post Weekly from which we bring you this extract (the full interview can be found here). Europe, Venturini says, is “stuck” in a “confused” energy vision “that’s 20 years old” and doesn’t know where it wants to get to. Enel Green Power, one of the largest green energy producers in the world, has been losing money in Europe but making money elsewhere. Venturini does not believe the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) can work and says renewable energy targets are not the same as an energy strategy. He hopes Brexit will provide “a hard shock” to get the EU to “move things forward”.
Enel Green Power, one of the largest green energy producers in the world with €3 billion in revenue and 700 plants in 15 countries, started in Europe, in Italy, but that continent is last on its investment list today. Just 14 % of total investments are still allocated in Europe, says Fransesco Venturini, an economist by training who joined Enel in 1997 and became CEO of Enel Green Power in May 2014.
For Venturini, the main problem is that he sees no long-term EU energy strategy that successfully unites conflicting national interests. “The difference between Europe and the other big economies around the world is that in one way or another all those economies have a pretty solid energy strategy,” he says. “The Italians want to get somewhere, the Germans somewhere else… I’m pretty pessimistic.”
He likes the idea of a carbon market – the EU Emission Trading System – in theory, but doesn’t believe it can work because it is artificial and provides only short-term price signals. “What you get in the end is a market that is very difficult to control … instead of paying a tax, companies are making money.” Nor does he see much mileage in the new 27% European-wide renewables target for 2030.
The bottom line for Enel Green Power is that, as Venturini notes, it has been losing “tonnes of revenue” in Europe but making “tonnes of revenue” elsewhere. For Europe, this is painful, because Enel was one of the first major utilities to embrace renewable energy and it is often cited as one of few utilities to have got it right on renewables.
In this wide-ranging interview, Venturini speaks about developments across the world. The Paris climate agreement, he says, doesn’t dramatically change the outlook for renewable energy, because the business case for renewables primarily comes from their fixed costs, scalability and speed to market. He doesn’t expect massive technological disruption over the coming years, but rather a steady stream of improvements to existing technologies. Gas has already been relegated to second place, he says, after the hype around it two years ago. He looks to digitalisation, end-to-end energy services and new partnerships: “I would never have imagined until two years ago that I would have meetings with people in the automotive industry once a week.”
Read the full interview with Francesco Venturini on Energy Post Weekly, the new online premium magazine of Energy Post. To read it, please click here. If you are not a subscriber, you can take a FREE TRIAL with no obligations.