Enel X’s innovations reach the pinnacle of sustainability
As a highly respected provider of innovative solutions – in areas of renewable energy, electric mobility and energy efficiency – Enel X is always striving to embrace the future and uphold its green credentials.
Sustainability clearly has a major impact on the company's image and reputation. Indeed, having open and honest discussions about the climate change situation is a fundamental element of Enel X’s agenda.
No one is more aware of the need to ‘walk the walk’ than the company’s Head of Sustainability, Nicola Tagliafierro. He reflects: “Of course, every company wants to talk about sustainability but it is very important from my perspective, to talk again about ‘effective sustainability’ – to avoid the situation of clearly green washing, or circular washing.”
The company believes in the importance of communicating the metrics in terms of environmental impact, but also social impact. Consequently, there are two directions of communication.
“Firstly, we focus on CO2 reduction, in terms of how many people are impacted and which communities are affected,” says Nicola. “At the same time, we need to be fair to the market, institutions and all stakeholders, by explaining the impact these initiatives have on the entire business, and not hiding behind small initiatives that do not represent the core business,” he adds.
In recent years, Enel X has been concentrating on ‘sustainability boosting’, which involves accelerating the sustainability of products, companies and even public administration. It is all intended to hasten and radically improve the level of sustainability, by analysing the current situation and – through the metrics – discovering areas where improvement can happen rapidly.
Nicola explains: “The sustainability boosting programme demonstrates that environmental aspects need to be covered through the circular economy. Our level can be significantly improved by sustainable input introduction, service models, life extension models, sharing strategies and widespread recycling.”
And Nicola knows that those new models can be extremely helpful in maximising the use of Enel X products. Different models and perspectives allow the company to view them in an entirely different way.
Furthermore, Enel X's Sustainability Boosting Program looks at the situation also through the lens of social inclusion allows Enel X to select products and solutions in terms of usability, accessibility, functionality and understandability, while also allowing it to focus on specific communities of people and how solutions can galvanise their lives.
Nicola says: “For people that are experiencing disabilities, or people with different kinds of impairments or difficult economic conditions, we design and develop specific solutions orwe rethink how existing ones can be improved.
“We then find several small or big projects that can be applied to that particular solution, making those solutions more and more sustainable both in the process and in the final output.”
Enel X’s electric charging solution is a notable example of the company’s willingness to embrace sustainability. An internal material that was historically going to waste from another division of the company, is now being used as a plastic to build its recharging infrastructure and electric charging infrastructure.
The company is also transforming the lives of wheelchair users who can use ‘juiceability’ – a cable which allows an electric wheelchair to recharge during an individual’s journey, making shopping trips, visiting the gym or going to a restaurant much more straightforward.
“Wheelchair users can use the same charging station as a car,” enthuses Nicola. “That's how we totally rethink the solution through the prism of sustainability.”
Change is coming
Enel X not only seeks to evolve through innovation; the company also strives to modernise sustainability itself.
Nicola says: “A lot of people become entrenched in an old approach to sustainability, such as a cost-based system or offsetting carbon emissions by planting trees. My view was very clear on this – we need to move away from the concept of offsetting, not because we don’t believe in planting trees, but because we need to concentrate on actually reducing carbon emissions. It’s this kind of logic that we are using to take employees with us.”
“This is why we are introducing circular economies – they have a powerful mechanism that generates incredible business opportunities. The company is already making a saving in terms of CO2, and when the business unit realised that we were saving costs, it sent out a very compelling message to the entire company,” he notes.
Consequently, different business lines of Enel X have been completely rethinking their processes, which has led to rebooted training, changes in communication and a widespread cultural shift across the company.
Digitalisation is one of the greatest milestones of positive sustainability – as Enel X is discovering. “I use digitalisation in all our strategies,” insists Nicola. “Because digitalisation means dematerialising, and dematerialising means the use of less resources. Every area of the business which is able to reduce the use of resources is effectively supporting the sustainability drive.”
Digital also has another important role. Through the Internet of Things its devices and infrastructure have become much more smart – digitised instruction has meant a reduction in resources being used. It has also emphasised another important concept of sustainability, which is traceability. This is an essential cog in the overall circular economy mechanism.
Prolonging the life of a product is a top priority at Enel X and constructing alternative models to ensure they are even more durable for the future, is an ongoing project. “I can also improve the recycling and reusing phase, through traceability,” enthuses Nicola. “Digitalization is clearly one of the biggest allies of sustainability.”
Circle of life
Enel X is using a very innovative approach to the circular economy, which encourages its partners and clients to follow. Indeed, the company strives to support awareness of the circular economy throughout its supply chain and it has developed a series of critical metrics and a report to help companies to progress sustainably.
“The report, which includes the monitoring of CO2 reductions and targets, presents an opportunity for companies to self-analyse and receive a certified score. We wanted to create a market standard to measure circular economy maturity which everyone could be able to use even independently,” explains Nicola
“We have developed in less than one year more than 150 circular economy reports for 150 different companies in Europe so far. Thanks to this approach, we are also able to calculate the savings that those companies can generate through our approach. Ultimately, there is a potential emission reduction of 32,000 tons of CO2 per year and also116,000 megawatt hours per year of energy saving.” We are planning to develop 4,000 circular economy reports in the next 4 years.
Diversity and inclusion is also a fundamental aspect of Enel X’s pathway. It is participating in the mission's Valuable 500 – a worldwide initiative with the aim of unleashing the enormous potential that could be generated from the inclusion of 1.3 billion people with disabilities around the world.
“This vision is totally in line with the target that Enel X has, both for employees and clients,” says Nicola. “This is why we are now looking at the programmes which are focusing on the accessibility of our services that boost inclusivity.”
Meanwhile, the company has also overseen the development of smarter assistance for COVID-19 patients during the international pandemic. A telemedicine tool has assisted patients and monitored their health conditions in real time. It was unrolled at a hospital in Roma called Agostino Gemelli University Hospital with great success.
Enel X strongly believes in dynamic partnership working. Nicola says: “We know we're part of an ecosystem, so we have a holistic approach. It means we need to collaborate with all our stakeholders and this includes clients, suppliers, partners, experts and startups. All of them represent an important part of our business and all of them contribute to ‘innov-ability’ – a perfect match between innovation and sustainability.”
This year the company also joined CDP as a gold accredited renewable energy solution provider. “Being a gold member of this association is a clear proof of how we're committed to long-term sustainability.”
Enel X is also establishing important partnerships with local industrial associations. For example, in Italy, it is partnering with Confindustria, to spread the circular economy within the market and supporting companies in the application of sustainable innovative solutions. Moreover, to incentivise this market transition we collaborate with Confindustria to reward companies participating in the ‘best performer in the circular economy’ with a special award for best energy circularity.
Furthermore, the company is changing gear by teaming up with MotoE and Formula E. “They're more than just a racing series because they really represent a battle for the future,” says Nicola. “People of every age can really test and understand the electric mobility revolution which is currently unfolding all around us.”