Climate strategy and the environment

Environmental management and climate strategy

Enel recognizes the central importance of the fight against climate change within the scope of the responsibilities of a global player in the energy industry and has, for years now, been taking steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all of the countries in which we operate, both by observing the obligations of the ETS Directive and by implementing our own long-term strategy. In that regard, the CEO of the Company has promoted the Eurelectric initiative under which 60 firms have committed to transforming the European electricity sector into a CO2 “emissions-neutral” industry by 2050.

In 2013, over 46.7% of the power Enel generates comes from zero-emission sources, an increase of 10.1% on 2012. More specifically, about 940 MW of new capacity from renewable sources was installed in 2013, thereby confirming our commitment to the development of carbon-free power generation, a commitment which will continue over the years to come. In addition, in 2013 the zero-emissions installed capacity of the Enel Group was equal to 42.7% of the total, or 42,239 MW.

Since 1990 (the benchmark year for the Kyoto Protocol), specific CO2 emissions for the Enel Group have declined by 37%. In 2013, Enel reduced emissions by 16% compared with 2007, which is in line with the target reduction set for 2020 compared with 2007, the year immediately preceding the first commitment period defined by the Kyoto Protocol. In light of this encouraging performance, Enel will be evaluating whether to set a mid-range target, given that our 2013 performance was affected both by ongoing structural growth in power generation from renewable sources and by contingent factors, such as high levels of water availability and other market dynamics.

Enel has set the following targets for 2020, which concern a number of environmental factors that are of greatest relevance to the activities of the Group: -10% in total specific emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2); -10% in total specific emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx); -50% in total specific emissions of particulates; and -10% in total specific water consumption (all figures relative to 2010 totals).

The long-term strategy of the Enel Group is based on the development of zero-emissions energy sources, the commitment to improve existing technologies, the promotion of energy efficiency and the development of smart grids, research and innovation, and the reduction of emissions through the implementation of projects in developing nations and in transition economies.

For a number of years, Enel has also been active on the voluntary emissions reduction market, which is intended for parties (i.e. companies, institutions, end users, etc.) who intend to monitor or neutralize the carbon footprint of their various (internal and external) activities (e.g. publications, products and services, events, etc.). All of these initiatives are associated with the “CO2 NEUTRAL” trademark that Enel registered in 2011.

Alongside these mitigation polities, the Enel Group is also working on adapting to the process of climate change. Extreme weather can have a significant impact on the level and quality of power generation, distribution and provision over both the short term and the long term. For this reason, Enel has begun studying ways to adapt to climate change through a pilot project related to the Iberian peninsula and Latin America. In 2014, this study will be extended to the Group’s operations around the world.

The Group’s commitment to the safe management of nuclear power generation is clearly laid out in our Nuclear Policy, which was approved in 2010 and more information for which may be found online at This policy is intended to guarantee that all nuclear power investment projects in which the Group participates are conducted with overriding priority given to nuclear safety and the protection of workers, the general public and the environment, while encouraging excellence and going beyond mere compliance with the law.

The safety stress tests of nuclear power plants seek to define the margins of safety of active power plants when faced with extreme stressors (whether external, e.g. earthquakes or floods, or accidental) and to study how the reactors respond under such extreme conditions.

The Group’s nuclear power plants have been studied in depth, and the steps for improvement identified are under way. Enel Engineering & Research has participated in the testing stage and actively supported the Group’s nuclear power companies in Spain and Slovakia in implementing any improvements.

Plant upgrading efforts included that of Santa Maria de Garoña, a shareholding of the Enel Group through Endesa, which was kept offline for all of 2013 and the operating permit of which expired on July 6. The fiscal regime on spent nuclear fuel, which had forced the plant to shut down in December 2012 based on the expected financial impact, was favorably amended in September 2013. The plant operator is assessing the possibility of starting up the plant again and requesting a renewal of the operating permit within the deadline of one year from expiration of the previous one.


In line with its health, safety and environmental policy, the Renewable Energy Division has the goal of protecting the environment in all phases of the development, construction and management of renewable energy systems. The environmental impact of such activities varies based on the type of plant, the technology used, and the stage of development the plant is currently in.

Some types of impact are handled a priori through specific strategic decisions. Examples of this include the introduction of specific green-procurement requirements or the “short chain” in biomass power generation by procuring biomass directly from local farms, thereby creating both a source of inputs for the plant and stable, alternative sources of income for the farms.

When developing new infrastructure projects, environmental impact assessments are conducted when requesting related authorizations in line with the laws and regulations of the country concerned. Based on the outcome of these assessments, we either establish any technical adjustments needed in order to reduce environmental impact right from the planning stage or evaluate, together with the local authorities, any compensatory measures that can be taken (e.g. biodiversity development projects that enhance the particular features of the local environment).

During plant construction, which is the activity with the greatest impact on the environment, we adopt a plan of environmental impact prevention and mitigation, which is defined, in part, in collaboration with the contractors that will be working at the site. The goal of this plan is to establish the environmental performance monitoring and control mechanisms for the work site, through which plans for improvement are developed together with the contractors and other suppliers, as are training and awareness initiatives and more effective coordination mechanisms.

During operation of the plant, by way of the existing Environment Management System, we define specific plans for improvement at the Group’s various sites, so as to identify any action to be taken in order to manage and mitigate any significant impact. These efforts include reducing and controlling emissions, managing waste, protecting water resources, and managing environmental emergency situations.

Water scarcity

Water resource management is an issue of increasing importance, and Enel constantly monitors all of our production sites in areas at risk in terms of water scarcity, so as to manage these resources in the most efficient manner possible.

Beginning in 2013, consumption due to evaporation of a number of plants with special cooling processes has been calculated. This change in calculation methods overestimates consumption for 2013. Nonetheless, comparing the 2013 figures with the same calculation method used for the prior year, we see a decline in specific consumption of around 6%, which is in line with Enel’s commitment to reduce consumption by 10% by 2020 compared with 2010.

More specifically, site monitoring is done at the following levels of analysis:

  • mapping of the production sites located in areas of potential water scarcity, where the average value of renewable water resources per capita is less than the target set by the FAO and also identified by using special software developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development;
  • identification of “critical” production sites, i.e. those with fresh water supplies;
  • more efficient management by making changes to plants or processes to maximize use of waste water and sea water;
  • monitoring of climate and vegetation data for each site.

Globally, Enel returns about 99% of the water used, and only about 7% of the Group’s total production uses and/or consumes fresh water in water-stressed areas.

In 2013, Enel was also the first utility to participate in the Aqua Gauge questionnaire being promoted by the US investor network Ceres, the goal of which is to assess Company awareness of the environmental risks related to water resources.


Preserving biodiversity is one of the strategic objectives of Enel’s environmental policy.

The Group promotes a number of projects throughout the world with the aim of supporting the preservation of ecosystems and the natural habitats of the various territories in which we operate, while playing an active role in the local communities.

In 2013, we completed the mapping of the biodiversity protection efforts of the Group, which has enabled Enel to adopt a Group Biodiversity Plan. This plan is comprised of 133 projects, 34 of which were completed in 2011 and 2012 and 98 of which are still under way. The total financial outlay since 2011 has been about €21 million. The projects are in areas concerning production plants and other installations and involve projects of various types, including: monitoring, safeguarding, research and development, corrective or compensatory measures, and social and environmental studies.

At Enel, we feel that any action involving ecosystems must be based on in-depth knowledge of the various conditions of equilibrium found in the areas in which we operate. As such, for each installation, the proximity of protected areas has been monitored, identifying for each the reasons for protection, the valuable ecosystems, biotopes and the endangered animal or plant species to be protected, and the related impact has been assessed. Knowing what species are present in a given area makes it possible to find those on the “Red List” of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and, in relation to the level of risk involved, to take any necessary protective measures. The results of these efforts show that our activities are being conducted in an environmentally balanced manner that protects biodiversity.

As regards plant operations, in many areas, in agreement with local authorities, independent experts perform biomonitoring studies of the land, rivers and sea in order to assess the impact of operations on biodiversity and the adequacy of any compensatory or improvement measures taken.