The Europe-based energy giant Enel will be ramping up spending on plug-in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, fiber optic networks, smart grids, and tech to support connected/smart home appliances, a company spokesperson has revealed.
The Italian company noted that part of this spending relates to the fact that the firm’s electric utility and telecom-services businesses are starting to converge in various ways, as digital technologies allow increasingly precise management of power supply and consumption to individual utility consumers (whether factories, businesses, or households).
To better remotely control power usage — and thus to better manage the peaks and troughs of demand, and thus to better integrate intermittent renewables (solar energy, wind energy, etc.) — Enel is now building a new fiber optic network in Italy that’s meant to rival that of Telecom Italia. The company intends to put €5.1 billion into this.
Interestingly, the company is now also considering similar projects in various big cities within Central and/or South America, Enel CEO Francesco Starace revealed.
“The unstoppable growth of renewables, digitization of grids, and regulatory change to tackle climate change are driving change from distributed generation to an energy cloud platform,” stated Francesco Venturini, the head of the new Enel ‘e-Solutions’ division (Enel X).
Reuters provides more: “The bet on these new services is driven by necessity as much as by choice. The rise of renewables has hit power prices and ripped up a business model that worked for more than a century — large-scale power stations delivering electricity to networks that invested just enough to cope with peak demand.
“Utilities long known for delivering reliable investment returns are now breaking up, selling assets and eyeing mergers to cope with shrinking profitability. German utility RWE is looking at ways to cut its stake in retail business Innogy since it was spun off, and this could involve a deal with Enel, a banking source told Reuters at the weekend.”
Notably, Enel reportedly expects electricity to account for around 29% of total energy demand by the year 2040 (up from 18% now). For this reason, it is now planning to spend some €800 million on the installation of new plug-in electric vehicle charging stations (and public lighting) by the year 2020.
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