Enel CEO is skeptical about carbon capture and storage technology

Chief Executive Officer of an Italian Multinational Energy Company Enel Doubts about the usefulness of carbon capture and storage indicate that the technology is not a climate solution.

“We have been trying, and when I say’we’, I mean the power industry,” Francesco Starace told CNBC’s Karen Tso on Wednesday.

“You can imagine that in the past 10 years, we have tried hard—perhaps more, 15 years—because if we have a reliable and economically interesting solution, why should we shut down all these coal plants? [when] Can we decarbonize the system? “

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, described carbon capture and storage as a set of technologies focused on “capturing, transporting and storing carbon dioxide emitted by power plants and industrial facilities.”

The idea is to prevent carbon dioxide “from entering the atmosphere and storing it in suitable underground geological formations.”

The committee stated that the use of carbon capture and storage is “important” in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This view is based on the argument that a large part of industry and power generation will still rely on fossil fuels in the next few years.

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However, Enel’s Starace seems to be skeptical about the potential of carbon capture.

“The truth is, it’s useless, and it hasn’t worked for us so far,” he said. “There is a rule of thumb here: if a technology does not really recover in five years-here we are talking about more than 5 years, at least 15 years-you’d better give it up.”

Starace says there are other climate solutions. “Basically, stop emitting carbon,” he said.

“I’m not saying it’s not worth trying again, but we won’t do it. Maybe other industries can try harder and succeed. For us, this is not the solution.”

Carbon capture technology is Often seen as a source of hope In terms of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, it occupies a prominent position in the climate plans of various countries and the net-zero strategies of some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies.

Proponents of these technologies believe that they can play an important and diverse role in achieving global energy and climate goals.

However, climate researchers, activists, and environmental advocacy groups have long believed that carbon capture and storage technologies have extended the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and distracted attention from the much-needed fulcrum of renewable alternatives.

Plan to increase shareholder dividends

After Enel released its strategic plan for 2022-24 and set goals for the next few years, Starace made the above speech. Among other things, by 2030, Enel will make 170 billion euros ($190.7 billion) in direct investment.

Direct investment in renewable energy assets that Enel will own will reach 70 billion euros. It is estimated that by 2030, the combined installed renewable energy capacity or the capacity directly owned by Enel will reach 129 GW.

In addition, Rome-based Enel stated that it has advanced its net zero commitment-a target related to direct and indirect emissions-to 2040, compared to 2050.

In terms of fossil fuels, the group hopes to withdraw from coal power generation by 2027 and natural gas power generation by 2040.

Enel also stated that between 2021 and 2024, shareholders “are expected to receive a fixed dividend per share…planned to increase by 13%, up to a maximum of 0.43 euros per share.”

In an interview with CNBC, Starace was asked about Enel’s higher dividend forecast and how to invest in so-called “criminal stocks”-in this case, big polluting companies in the energy sector-and still get richer returns. Widely debated, especially on dividends.

“It’s all about risk reward,” he said. “At the end of the day, I don’t think there is any problem with the increasingly risky business [being] …If you want to attract investors, you have to increase dividends. “

He said: “What we want to say is that there is a turning point, no matter what dividend you want to distribute, the risk will become unbearable, and this situation is approaching.”

“So in our case, what you need to do is to get rid of this risk, get rid of the carbon footprint, and make sure that when you put the word’net’ in front of zero, this’net’ does not become a trick, you It will not decarbonize, really, your operations.”

“We say we will achieve zero carbon emissions, which means we will not emit carbon, so we will [not] …Need to plant trees to offset carbon emissions. “

However, Stares acknowledged that in the next few centuries, trees will be needed to remove the carbon left in the atmosphere due to historical emissions.

— Sam Meredith of CNBC contributed to this article.

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