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Access to energy

  • GRI

World Energy Outlook 2018, the main publication of the International Energy Agency (IEA) on the state of health of energy resources worldwide, shows that the number of people without access to electricity has fallen to below one billion, yet in 2030 there will be 650 million people without electricity.

This is a challenge and a primary and fundamental need, outlined in the United Nations’ SDG 7, which aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

In all countries where it operates, Enel is close to people and in particular supports the most vulnerable sectors of the population, through initiatives which are usually government-inspired, offering economic support for energy spending in developing countries, through projects to promote access to energy for an increasing number of people.

This commitment has been confirmed in the 2019-2021 Strategic Plan presented in November 2018 by the Chief Executive Officer during the Capital Markets Day, with the definition of specific goals, including an increase in renewable sources, energy efficiency initiatives, the development of sustainable, circular products and services, and engagement with the inclusion of communities, adopting a creating shared value model.

The Strategic Plan, the Sustainability Plan which sets out the objectives and commitments in an ESG dimension, including access to energy, and relative financial and non-financial reporting, are analyzed and monitored by the Board of Directors, through the Corporate Governance and Sustainability Committee and the Control and Risks Committee (see the Corporate Governance Report, available at

Top management is committed daily to developing these strategic objectives, contributing to supporting the global challenge of guaranteeing access to energy. In keeping with Enel’s sustainable business model, each Business Line/Country promotes specific initiatives, for areas in its responsibility, such as the development of renewable assets in mature countries and in socalled developing countries (Enel Green Power Business Line), energy efficiency, responsible consumption and offers for more vulnerable sectors (Infrastructure and Networks, Enel X, Market-Countries).

To assist top management, each country is tasked with managing relations with local, regional and national institutional bodies, regulatory authorities and associations to promote the development of solutions to access energy based on varying needs. The Innovability Function, at a Holding and Business Line/Country level, also promotes the dissemination of a shared value model with communities and supports innovative solutions that can facilitate access to energy in remote, under-electrified areas. One example is the launch in Chile of the first worldwide “Plug and Play” micro-network powered by photovoltaic power with a hydrogen accumulation system, that can guarantee a 24-hour supply of green energy, anywhere, without having to use diesel generators and can function both on-grid and independently off-grid.

Promoting access to energy in developing countries

Enel’s commitment to promoting access to energy in developing countries not only means supplying electricity, but also giving the population the chance to use innovative, clean technologies in order to produce energy with a reduced environmental impact. In 2018:

  • in Latin America, over 1,500 MW from renewable sources became operational, taking total capacity from renewables to over 14,000 MW;
  • in Africa, Enel Green Power is currently the leading private operator in renewables, in terms of installed capacity (more than 500 MW in operation, and nearly 370 MW under construction), and is present in several countries, like South Africa, Zambia and Morocco;
  • in Asia, Enel operates in India through its subsidiary BLP Energy, a leading renewable energy company in the country, which owns and manages 172 MW of wind power capacity, producing approximately 320 GWh a year in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

In line with the requirements of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Enel has made a specific commitment to SDG 7 “Affordable and clean energy”: to reach over 3 million people by 2020, mainly in Africa, Latin America and Asia, through projects related, for example, to rural electrification, capacity development and technology transfer, with financial support for promoting access to energy or innovative solutions and partnership agreements with significant stakeholders. 150 projects were developed in 2018, reaching some 1.6 million beneficiaries, while over 180 partnership agreements have been signed in the last two years (see the section “Engaging stakeholders, sharing goals and assessing impact” in this chapter).

Below are some examples of initiatives Enel is involved in, promoted by various Business Lines, in developing countries, to support access to energy:

  • Rural electrification program “Toconce” (Chile): an initiative between GDN, a joint venture involving Enel Green Power Chile, ENAP (Empresa Nacional del Petróleo) and Codelco Distrito Norte, and the municipality of Calama, to provide 24-hour energy to the community and guarantee public lighting. The project was implemented by installing independent photovoltaic kits for 90 families, corresponding to 2,480 kWh for each family. These kits are capable of supplying sufficient energy for an average family unit. Besides solar panels, each kit includes a 111 kWs battery. 360 people have benefited from the project, which was ranked first in 2018 by the association of Chilean manufacturers in the section “Best practices for a sustainable electric future” in Chile;
  • Microgrid Paratebueno (Colombia): a project developed in the rural area of Paratebueno (Cundinamarca, Colombia) which today numbers some 20 beneficiary families, with a potential catchment area of 8,000 family units. The project will develop a grid powered by renewable energy from a photovoltaic plant, batteries and back-up generator. With this innovative solution, families can be guaranteed electricity 24 hours a day;
  • Ecoenel project (Brazil): this project offers discounts on their electricity bill to customers that recycle their waste and deliver it to specific sites in the states of Rio de Janeiro, Ceará and Goiás in Brazil. The project also includes specific training on an informed, efficient use of energy. Since its launch in 2007, the program has become an important example of sustainability actions and, thanks to the network of alliances and partnerships with customers, companies and entities committed to recycling, it is fully in line with Enel’s Open Power strategy. In 2018, the program had 33,224 direct beneficiaries and Ecoenel Rio reached a record-breaking 1,395 t of waste collected, with over 5,174 customers served by the program, for a saving of around 6,497,446 kWh and over 4,000 t of CO2;
  • Fundación Pachacútec (Peru): this project involves technical training and consolidating energy-related skills and provides professional training courses on industrial electrical technologies for young, low-income entrepreneurs. After three years of training, participants have the chance to work in the energy sector, as personnel of E-Distribuzione contractors in Peru, or to start their own small/medium-sized local enterprise. The skills taught are some of the most sought after on the local employment market, accounting for 95% of all job requests. 549 people have benefited from the program so far.

Strategic partnerships include the Liter of Light program, promoting workshops on the construction and maintenance of small solar power generation units that use plastic bottles and other recycled materials.

In particular, the project involves turning plastic bottles and recycled materials into solar lamps, to bring light to disadvantaged communities the world over, with zero emissions.

Moreover, Enel is contributing to the Brazilian government program (Electricity Social Tariff), for low-income families, in which discounts of up to 65% off the normal residential rate are offered on electricity bills.

Fighting energy poverty in developed countries

Although access to energy is guaranteed in developed countries, there are consumers who struggle to pay their energy bills, following the serious global crisis that has affected low-income families in these countries in particular. Although governments chiefly have responsibility for guaranteeing sustainable, safe and affordable access to basic energy services, the electrical sector can contribute to promoting a sustainable socio-economic development.

Enel has always been committed to working with governments to fight energy poverty and help vulnerable populations in developed countries have access to energy.

Enel’s commitment to achieving SDG 7 has been amplified and for 2030 will target all countries where the Group operates, and not just developing nations such as those in Africa, Asia and Latin America (see the section “Engaging stakeholders, sharing goals and assessing impact” in this chapter).

In recent years, Enel has offered different types of support, often through existing government initiatives, to reduce electricity bill costs for vulnerable customers on developed markets, such as in Italy, Spain and Romania (see also the section “Care of vulnerable groups” in the chapter “Operational improvement for a better service”).

A number of campaigns and activities have also been organized to give the population living in vulnerable conditionsadvice on a responsible use of energy.

Below are some examples of projects in Spain:

  • the energy volunteer program, launched by Endesa and Endesa Foundation to help low-income families, providing them with specific advice on responsible energy consumption, distributing energy efficiency kits and, in some cases, making improvements to the electricity systems of the most vulnerable families. In many cases, the program has enabled electricity bills to be cut on average by up to 30%. The program is run by volunteers from Endesa staff, working closely with civil society organizations. In 2018, 188 people took part in the program, which served 1,600 families, equal to some 5,000 people;
  • training in responsible energy use and bill optimization, involving 140 representatives from local social services, assisting over 23,000 people who struggle each year to pay their energy bill;
  • initiative against energy poverty in Aragona to support economically vulnerable households by reducing their energy consumption and optimizing electricity bills, adopting energy efficiency measures. The households are analyzed and monitored using an online tool, to obtain data providing more details on energy poverty, to help combat this phenomenon. In 2018, 317 families benefited from the project, for a total of some 1,000 people.