In 2015, we created the new Energy Solutions division, which reports directly to the chief executive
Eni's commitment to renewables – particularly solar energy – spans 35 years and has involved the commercial production of solar modules, research and development and collaboration with Italian and foreign universities. During 2016, we updated our corporate strategy to ensure we all play our part in the transition towards a low-carbon energy future, promoting the development of renewables, supporting their spread in the countries in which we operate and promoting technological research into new energy sources.
Flexible polymer cells and solar concentration are just some of the applications of our research in the renewable energy sector.
To underline our commitment to a low-carbon model, in 2015 we created the new Energy Solutions division, which reports directly to the chief executive. Its mission is to support and supplement traditional energy sources by producing energy from renewables through profitable projects on an industrial scale. Our plants in Africa and Asia show particular promise in this respect and we will be investigating how to improve our energy efficiency and contribute to energy access in these countries by means of a sustainable energy mix. Such projects will benefit from the following competitive levers:
There are two types of electricity generation project: brownfield, to capitalise on opportunities for industrial and contractual synergy at existing production sites; and greenfield, on sites not linked to Eni industrial areas, where on-grid and off-grid initiatives are to be implemented.
In the Downstream sector we have already implemented a strategy on renewables, involving the production of bio products with high added value alongside the firm’s traditional business. In Venice we were the first to convert a traditional refinery into a biorefinery for the production of low-environmental impact biofuels. We will also work to turn Gela into a green refinery and launch green chemistry projects at Porto Torres and Porto Marghera.
To meet the challenges posed by the structural crisis in refining, Eni has decided to convert its older industrial sites, building the first biorefinery in the world at Porto Marghera through the conversion of a conventional plant using its proprietary EcofiningTM technology. Here Eni Diesel + is produced – a new fuel with a 15% renewable component that maintains engine efficiency and helps to reduce CO2 emissions by 5% compared to other diesel currently on the market. The biomass used for conversion into biofuel has been certified as meeting the International Sustainability & Carbon Certification (ISCC) standard, which guarantees compliance with both environmental and social requirements. Eni is also continuing to invest in research into new bio components for use in fuels.
In the first half of 2015, tests confirmed the feasibility of processing feedstock. Otherwise known as second-generation biofuels, this is material from the national supply chain – such as vegetable oils and animal fats – that does not compete with food. Plans to co-operate with public waste-collection authorities in the greater Venice area are nearing finalisation with the aim of increasing the collection of used domestic oil and employing it as feedstock for the biorefinery. The green diesel obtained in this way can be used to create a fuel with a high organic content and can be returned to the municipal authorities for use in their collection vehicles. As a result, a short supply chain involving almost no transportation of materials is created – maximising the usefulness of waste domestic oils produced locally and bringing an undisputed environmental benefit. The addition of oily biomass refinery plants to the system in order to reuse the waste products from this first process – such as distilled fatty acids and glycerine (so-called "advanced” resources) – is also under consideration.
We have launched a study into the potential of renewable energies to identify the sources in which to invest in the long term. R&D work has focused on the identification, development and implementation of technological solutions in the fields of solar energy and energy storage. Research projects in collaboration with centres of excellence at an international level are ongoing, including via the scientific community linked to the Eni Award (including the Politecnico di Milano, Politecnico di Torino, CNR, MIT and Stanford University). The most significant results we have achieved in the field of solar energy include excellent lab performance with flexible polymer cells (>9% efficiency) and an overall record in the laboratory for the performance of luminescent solar concentrators (LSC) integrated into construction projects (7.4% efficiency). In the area of concentrated solar power, basic engineering has been completed on a prototype for an innovative parabolic collector, developed with MIT and the Politecnico di Milano, and selection of a site for its construction is underway.
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