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'No limitation' for Enel renewables growth in next 5 to 10 years, CEO says

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'No limitation' for Enel renewables growth in next 5 to 10 years, CEO says

Enel SpA, Italy's leading supplier of electricity and one of the world's largest developers of renewable energy projects, sees no ceiling for its global green power growth in the next decade, CEO Francesco Starace said Aug. 1.

"To make a long story short, we see, on a five- to 10-year time frame, no limitation in the potential acceleration of [renewables] growth," Starace said during a conference call with investment analysts on the company's 2019 first-half business results.

The company's "actionable" project development pipeline, mostly solar and onshore wind, exceeds 26,000 MW, while its long-term plans include another 24,000 MW, the CEO said. More than 7,340 MW are currently in the advanced stages of development or under construction, including 5,179 MW of wind and 2,083 MW of solar, according to a company presentation. Over 60% of those "in execution" projects are in United States, Mexico and the rest of the Americas.

In the first half of this year, Enel built 900 MW of renewable energy projects. It expects to add around 3,000 MW this the year, growing to roughly 4,000 MW in 2020. By the end of 2019, Enel forecasts its cumulative installed renewable energy capacity to reach 46,000 MW.

Given that large commitment, the Enel Green Power business accounted for the majority of the company's capital expenditures in the first half, including 44% of Enel's overall €4.2 billion in outlays and 68% of its €2.5 billion spent on asset development alone.

Another 41% of its first-half capital investments went to grid infrastructure, including through the installation of more than 10 million smart meters and 63,000 electric vehicle charging points. In addition, Enel connected 80.6 MW of utility-scale and customer-sited battery storage.

Only 7% of its capital expenditures in the first half of the year went toward conventional generation, as the company accelerates its exit from fossil fuels, highlighted by its recent sale of a major coal-fired facility in Russia. Zero-emission generation accounted for 56% of Enel's power production in the first half, which the company expects to rise to 62% by 2021.

Enel posted €5.2 billion in earnings before interest and taxes for the first six months of the year, up 6.9% from last year. Revenues increased 8.2% to nearly €39 billion.

In July, Moody's raised its outlook for Enel to positive from stable to reflect the company's progress on strategic priorities.