The CEO of global renewables giant Enel appeared to leave to the door ajar for a future foray into offshore wind as he said the Italian group was “ready to change its view” of the sector if it shows progress on costs and O&M.

Francesco Starace said Enel – among the world’s biggest operators of onshore wind and solar – still sees offshore wind as a less attractive investment option than on land, but did not rule out that changing, albeit not straight away.

“We maintain that at least for the next three years we don’t see us having any interest in offshore wind,” Starace said during the group’s recent strategic update when he outlined plans to triple its renewables base to 145GW by 2030.

The Enel CEO reiterated his concerns that offshore wind is less competitive than onshore renewables, is more capital intensive, takes longer to deploy and has a still unproven track record in O&M.

But he added: “As this technology gets more market-friendly and less risky, of course we will get interested. It’s just not right now.

“We have a view [on offshore wind]. We are ready to change that view if offshore becomes shorter in implementation, less intensive in Capex per megawatt, and more proven in O&M

“I guess it’s a question of time.”

An aversion to offshore wind has been the main factor differentiating Enel from fellow pioneering European renewable energy utilities such as Iberdrola and EDPR, while the global pacesetter of wind at sea – Denmark’s Orsted – is now expanding its onshore ambitions.

Orsted’s CEO Henrik Poulsen disagreed with Starace’s analysis of the sector after the latter in 2019 described offshore wind as a “risky niche” during an interview with Recharge.

Responding to the Enel CEO’s latest comments, Gunnar Herzig, managing director of industry body World Forum Offshore Wind, told Recharge: "Over the past years the offshore wind industry has demonstrated impressively how to reduce costs at a pace almost unimaginable only five years ago.

“Given the industry’s maturity level and the unstoppable global expansion, there is no doubt that offshore wind is one of the energy industry’s biggest success stories.

“Over the past years and months, we have seen many new players, large and small, from diverse backgrounds and around the world, enter the offshore wind industry. If Enel were to join as well they would be in good company with some of the biggest and most innovative energy players in the world.“