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Burning gas to produce electricity is ‘stupid,’ the CEO of power giant Enel says


Enel CEO Francesco Starace photographed in 2019. In an interview with CNBC on Could 24, 2022, Starace stated “you may produce electrical energy higher, cheaper, with out utilizing fuel.”

Giulio Napolitano | Bloomberg | Getty Photographs

The CEO of Italian energy agency Enel has forged doubt on the continued advantage of utilizing fuel to supply electrical energy, telling CNBC it’s “silly” and that cheaper and higher alternate options are actually out there.

Talking to CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick on the World Financial Discussion board, Francesco Starace mentioned the place Europe had sourced its fuel from through the years, name-checking each Libya and Russia.

Russia was the largest provider of petroleum oils and pure fuel to the EU final 12 months, according to Eurostat. The bloc is now attempting to wean itself off Russian hydrocarbons following the nation’s invasion of Ukraine.  

“I feel this can be a massive get up name,” Starace stated, including that “an excessive amount of fuel” was getting used “in a silly method, as a result of burning fuel to supply electrical energy is, as we speak, silly.”

As a substitute, Starace stated there have been extra engaging alternate options.

“You possibly can produce electrical energy higher, cheaper, with out utilizing fuel … Gasoline is a valuable molecule and it is best to go away it for … functions the place that’s wanted,” he added.

These industrial makes use of embody chemical functions, the paper business and use within the manufacturing of ceramics and glass, he stated.

“Spare fuel for them,” Starace stated. “Cease utilizing fuel for heating, cease utilizing fuel for producing electrical energy when there are alternate options which are higher.”

Various strategies of electrical energy era embody wind and solar energy, amongst others.

According to a recent report from Ember, a assume tank targeted on transferring the planet away from coal to what it calls “clear electrical energy,” fossil fuels had been chargeable for 37% of EU electrical energy era in 2021.

Breaking down the above determine, Ember’s report — revealed in February — stated fossil fuel energy produced 18% of the EU’s electrical energy, a three-year low. Renewables had been chargeable for 37%, whereas nuclear produced 26% of the bloc’s electrical energy final 12 months, Ember stated.

Throughout the Atlantic, preliminary figures from the U.S. Vitality Administration present that pure fuel was utilized in 38.3% of utility scale electrical energy era in the US in 2021.

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In Starace’s opinion, change is coming to Europe, the place the EU has stated it needs to be carbon impartial by 2050. “General I feel there might be a discount of fuel consumption in Europe throughout the board coming largely from these, like I stated, ‘silly’ makes use of,” he stated.  

“So burning it to generate electrical energy will not be sensible anymore, there’s a higher method,” he stated. “Burning it to warmth our houses will not be clever, there’s a higher method.”

The Enel Group — whose important shareholder is the Italian Ministry of Economic system and Finance — has stated it should abandon fuel era by 2040. It additionally plans to go away the retail fuel market in 2040.

Starace was requested if the transfer to net-zero and give attention to utilizing extra renewables in Europe could be turbocharged by the present disaster.

“I feel sure, undoubtedly,” he stated. “As a result of on prime of the economics, on prime of the local weather, there may be now [a] safety of provide challenge.”

“So you will have a mix of three components, not two, so undoubtedly there may be an acceleration there,” he added.

He stated it might take two or three years however, “you’ll begin to see a dent in fuel consumption going ahead, no query.”