Enel’s CEO Francesco Starace said the company plans to end the decade as a “renewables supermajor” in another big statement of intent by a leading utility in a green power market increasingly coveted by oil & gas giants – but admitted he'd rather have the “reliable” fossil groups as competitors than “crazy, hit-and-run developers”.
Enel unveiled plans to triple clean power capacity to 145GW by 2030 helped by investments of €190bn ($226bn), including €30bn from third-parties.
The company expects to have 120GW of its own clean capacity in place by the end of the decade, up from 45GW now, plus another 25GW under its “stewardship model” that includes joint ventures.
The extra 75GW will be roughly split between onshore wind and solar drawn from what the group claimed is a world-leading 141GW pipeline that now also includes 7GW of battery storage projects.
Enel said it could have up to 2GW devoted to green hydrogen electrolysis by the end of the decade.
The Italian group expects to have a 4%-plus market share of the global renewable generation market by 2030, up from 2.5% now.
Asked whether that level of share constitutes a “supermajor”, Starace said Enel would be the biggest player in a fast-expanding renewables market.
“This expansion isn’t going to stop in the next 10 years,” he said. But even with its huge projected capacity growth, Starace expects to end the decade with a share just below 5%.
“Is it an exaggeration to call us a supermajor with 5%? Perhaps, but we will still be by far the largest company in the space,” he said.
The Enel CEO said renewables are now “sucking in players from all angles of different businesses. Everyone is giving it a try”.
That could mean consolidation in the sector over the next 10 years, a process from which he believes Enel would be well-placed to benefit.
Utilities v fossils
Along with Spain’s Iberdrola – which recently unveiled its own plans to hit 90GW of renewables capacity by 2030 – and others such as EDPR, Enel has led the global charge by European utilities build massive renewable power bases.
The utilities are now being joined in the market by a host of new players from the oil & gas sector that are setting increasingly large renewable energy goals under their own decarbonisation plans.
BP and Total have this year both set big capacity goals, in the case of the former 50GW by the end of the decade.
But while renewables dominate the investment plans of Enel and its peers, the oil giants’ clean energy ambitions would still only be a fraction of their overall spending on their conventional assets.
The arrival of the fossil giants has led to lively debate over whether they or the power sector is best placed to led the energy transition.
We’d definitely rather have Total and BP.
Starace said in response to a question from Recharge that the stated plans of the fossil giants would be swallowed in the massive global expansion renewables is set to undergo.
“Materially they are not going to change much of the story,” Starace said.
But he added: “Is it better to have as a competitor a solid company with a healthy balance sheet that's careful about returns, rather than a crazy developer on a hit-and-run basis?
“We’d definitely prefer Total and BP.
“They’re more logical, more solid and reliable competitors than what we’ve had so far. We like it. It’s a vindication of the fact that we had the right intuition.”
Note: Update adds extra quotes