Over a period of time Italian energy giant Enel has been evolving its image and business to sync with the transforming energy sector.
The latest step in this journey is the rebranding of the e-Solutions Global Business Line with the formation of a new company, Enel X, to deliver integrated digital solutions - a move that makes sense in the technology driven energy transition.
While early days, it opens the way to both a level of innovation and provision of services that could be restricted within the current utility model with the Clean Energy Package focus on competitive markets.
A good example is the limitation on utility ownership of storage and provision of flexibility, which has attracted significant commentary in our media.
Traditional utilities also can be slow to move. Feedback to Engerati is that many startups struggle to gain inroads to utilities and have their solutions implemented but smaller subsidiaries can be less constrained.
Moreover in the changing markets it is the first movers who are setting the scene and the likely direction that regulators may move.
“There are just two options: standing on the sidelines and watching the others play, or seizing the initiative to dictate the rules of the game,” comments Francesco Venturini, Head of Enel X.
“We began working on this project two years ago and today we have the numbers and the technologies to choose the second option and play a different game. The great challenge is to transform a large utility like ours into a technology company. We believe that we are perfectly capable of succeeding.”
According to a statement the aim of Enel X is to open up the energy sector to new uses, new technologies, new partnerships and new services for an increasing number of people.
“Enel X will be an accessible and immediate organisation that is always connected and at the cutting edge, driving progress for the world.”
Enel X launches with four fields of activity across cities, homes, businesses and mobility, the statement says.
e-City will develop sustainable and high tech solutions for new smart cities, from street lighting and the illumination of artistic heritage sites to energy efficiency, security and fibre-optic connections.
e-Home is for smart homes that are capable of saving increasing quantities of energy and offering greater comfort and wellbeing.
e-Industries provides consultancy services, energy efficiency and distributed generation technology and the creation of off-grid and demand response solutions.
e-Mobility will promote the spread of efficient electric mobility with recharging infrastructure, vehicle to grid (V2G) technology and second-life services for batteries.
The launch of Enel X is closely tied to Enel’s Strategic Plan for 2018-20 which envisages a €5.3bn investment in digitalisation – a €600m increase over the previous plan period.
In terms of income, e-Solutions is expected to contribute €400m in before tax earnings by 2020.
The first project announced under the new brand is a memorandum of understanding with PwC for the development of corporate electric mobility with a programme of testing and experimental projects.
The three-year initiative starts with the introduction of electric vehicles in the PwC company fleet.
Under the agreement, the two companies will share their respective know-how and spread the culture of electric mobility in corporate fleets among the companies in the PwC network in Italy.
As almost half of corporate vehicles travel less than 100km per day – well below the average range of EVs on the market – this segment offers significant potential for advancing e-mobility.
“The agreement with PwC will enable us to identify and focus on the electric vehicle requirements of companies and to develop specific solutions to meet the growing demand for a sustainable and economically advantageous mobility,” comments Venturini, indicating the types of projects Enel X is engaging in.
PwC expects the number of EVs in Italy to grow to up to 1.5m by 2025, with the price of electric and petrol vehicles converging towards the same level by 2024.
With this, and again as an example to other companies looking towards EV growth, Enel has launched a national charging infrastructure plan for the installation of about 7,000 stations by 2020 and 14,000 in 2022. Plans call for the installation of more than 2,500 charging stations throughout Italy in 2018 alone.