Italy

Italy

Enel Green Power betting on PPAs and repowering

The Italian renewables company's CEO Antonio Cammisecra tells Windpower Monthly why the company is upping its game in its Italian home market and why power purchase deals will be the key driver for growth in many parts of the world in the next few years.

Enel Green Power CEO Antonio Cammisecra
Enel Green Power CEO Antonio Cammisecra

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As Enel Green Power (EGP) continues to expand its global footprint, the renewable energy business of Italian power company Enel is also once again turning its attention to growth in its home market.

Parent firm Enel’s 2020-2022 industrial plan presented in November sees 500MW of new Italian wind farms, bringing the total to 1.3GW.

Enel also expects more 200MW of Italian solar photovoltaic capacity.

The new renewables capacity planned for Italy is more than double the 300MW foreseen in the company’s previous plan.

"More Italy"

"Thanks to new technology and reduced costs, wind has become more competitive," said EGP chief executive Antonio Cammisecra, explaining why there is "more Italy" in the new plan.

The Italian government’s announcement that it will close all remaining coal plants by 2025 also means there is a need for power to replace it.

"We think most of this will come from renewables," Cammisecra added. And despite its lack of new renewable capacity additions in Italy in recent years, EGP has been busy developing a project pipeline. 

Italy, where the company was among the frontrunners in the wind-energy sector, is also a focus for repowering older wind farms.

But efforts in this area are furthest advanced in the US, where repowering projects can benefit from the production tax credit (PTC).

Cammisecra said EGP is working on repowering three wind farms in the US while it is in the design phase to repower three to four wind farms in both Italy and Spain, the first of which could be carried out in 2021.

"We consider repowering to be very important in the decarbonisation process," said Cammisecra.

Older wind farms tend to be located on the windiest sites, and with new and more efficient turbine technology, power production can be increased by about 30-50% at a specific site with almost no increase in capacity, according to EGP estimates.

If a big increase in capacity is possible, production could even double. As wind markets mature further, Cammisecra expects repowering to be of growing importance.

New capacity

Enel has earmarked a total €11.5 billion to boost its global renewable capacity by 14.1GW over the next three years, and wind and solar power growth will increasingly be driven by power purchase agreements (PPAs).

The 2020-2022 plan envisions growth in the key US and Brazilian markets will be underpinned by PPAs. In the US, this means PPAs with commercial and industrial (C&I) offtakers and, to a lesser extent, utility PPAS.

Virtual PPAs will also be a feature of the US market, Cammisecra noted, while a typical PPA in Brazil will be with a large C&I offtaker.

PPAs are also seen as key to renewable-capacity additions in Mexico.

In Spain, about 30% of energy can be sold through long-term PPAs via Enel’s Spanish subsidiary, Endesa, Cammisecra said.

In South Africa, the company is in talks with gold miners for renewable PPAs, while there are also signs it could seal these sorts of agreements in Italy in the future.

"We see PPAs as an emerging opportunity in many markets," said Cammisecra.

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