ROME, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) — Renewable energy is good for the planet and good for business too, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said Tuesday at a conference called “Italy and Renewable Energies” at ENEL energy company.
Gentiloni said that while the transition to renewables was initially sparked by public policy, the sector is now a full-fledged, competitive, market-driven business that “stands on its own two feet”.
“A great transformation is underway,” Gentiloni said at ENEL, whose Green Power division builds solar power plants and wind farms in Africa and South America and is a leading world player in the renewable energy sector.
Clean power is essential “for the future of our country and the environment (and also for) the competitiveness of our industrial system,” the prime minister said.
“We’re not talking about a charity, a good cause — we’re talking about one of the most extraordinary vectors of innovation and competitiveness for our economic systems,” Gentiloni said, adding that “the transition from coal to renewables…is at the same time a choice for tomorrow and for today”.
Climate change caused by human reliance on fossil fuels is no longer just a future scenario, Gentiloni said. “In various parts of Africa…the impact of climate change is taking place here and now” and resulting in drought, malnutrition, and mass migration.
“Think of the immense number of families in Africa who have no electricity,” Gentiloni said. “This demand will be met with gigantic investments in the coming decades.”
If the response is an advanced model of renewables, digitalization and energy efficiency “it will be not just a business for us, but also an extraordinary result for humanity,” Gentiloni said. “On the contrary, responding to this enormous demand…with traditional fossil sources would be absolute madness from the environmental and social point of view.”
According to the latest United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) “Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017” report, installed capacity of renewable energy rose 8 percent in the last year, with a 10 percent drop in average capital expenditure per megawatt in the same period.
The report found that wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, geothermal, small hydro and marine sources added 138.5 gigawatts to global power capacity in 2016 — with generating capacity roughly equal to that of the world’s 16 largest existing power producing facilities combined.
“Ever-cheaper clean tech provides a real opportunity for investors to get more for less,” said Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment. “This is exactly the kind of situation, where the needs of profit and people meet, that will drive the shift to a better world for all.”
Gentiloni called these “impressive numbers”, which prove that renewables are not just an environmental necessity but they now also make good business sense.
Italy has already switched 39 percent of its power supply to renewables, against 30 percent in Germany and 16 percent in France, he added.
Italy’s recently enacted 175-billion-euro National Energy Strategy (SEN) aims to leave coal-powered plants behind for good by 2025, with renewables making up 28 percent of overall energy consumption and 55 percent of electricity consumption by 2030, and reducing greenhouse gases by 39 percent by 2030 and by 63 percent by 2050. “Our long-term aim is total de-carbonization,” Gentiloni said.