Enel plans to invest big in South Africa, says CEO

Italian utility Enel expects to grow its installed capacity in South Africa to 5,000 megawatts in five years.

The company chief executive officer Francesco Starace made the statement during an interview he gave Reuters. “For us, Africa is the next Latin America,” Starace said. The company already has a strong portfolio in Latin America.

Enel has been making huge investments in renewable energy projects and grids in South Africa. Starace said Enel will invest heavily on grids to develop its own system on the likes of South Africa’s top utility Eskom.

According to the Enel CEO, his company is making a balanced investment in renewable energy assets in South Africa retaining 60:40 ratio of wind and solar projects.

Further, Enel plans to spend generously on wind, solar, geothermal and hydro energy in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Morocco.

Starace noted that Africa needs growth in every kind of energy infrastructure. He said the investments Enel makes in Africa will also include certain fossil fuel-powered projects.

The Enel CEO averred that microgrids were the future of South Africa. He said that Europe’s electrification in the early 20th century had followed the same pattern — plants powering factories added lines to supply nearby residential customers and these small grids were later connected to form Europe’s master power network.

In South Africa, Enel now operates 10 megawatts and is building 990 MW, which will come online in the next two years.

Talking of frequent blackouts in South Africa, Starace said this was happening due to a combination of factors including accelerating economy, strong demographic growth and the lack of spare capacity.

“Demand growth went out of control. With this peak demand, Eskom embarked on huge plans, but these invariably take longer and more money to complete,” he said.

According to Starace, Enel will be investing 50 percent of Enel’s global investments on renewables, about 30 percent on grids, and the rest on conventional power assets.

About Enel’s investments in Africa, Starace said the company would be investing 18 billion euros globally over the next five years, of which roughly half will go into projects in Latin America and Africa. It will also double the capacity at Enel Green Power.

Ajith Kumar S

editor@greentechlead.com