The circular economy at the core of Enel X

The future of the economy is circular. Enel X has placed this model at the centre of its strategy with the aim of accelerating and multiplying the benefits for clients and suppliers. The advantages do not only concern the environment, but also economic growth and new business opportunities

Published on 26 February 2019

The circular economy at the core of Enel X

The current economic system, based on the linear model of “produce, consume, dispose” is no longer sustainable. By 2050 the global population will reach 9.8 billion, the raw material needs of urban centres – which already use two thirds of global energy and are responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions – will climb from 40 to 90 billion tonnes per year and the amount of waste produced will rise from 1.3 to 2.2 billion tonnes by as early as 2025. Pollution levels will increase, the scarcity of resources will make it hard to satisfy everyone’s needs; nations, companies and citizens will have to bear increasingly high costs. How can we reverse this trend?

The new paradigm: circularity

The circular economy is a sustainable systemic solution for most of these problems. For this reason Enel X has placed it at the heart of its strategy with the aim of becoming an accelerator and amplifier of the beneficial effects of this paradigm within the vast ecosystem of our suppliers and clients. The advantages are not confined to reducing the impact on the environment, but include economic growth, and new business opportunities.

What does circular economy mean? Imagine taking the straight line of the current economic system and bending it until it is transformed into a circle. Now you’ll have a system that operates in a similar way to natural cycles, an economy where used materials are regenerated. Products are designed along modular lines for a longer life, to be easily dismantled and regenerated. The amount of waste produced is cut to a minimum, and this waste is given value through transformation into resources for producing other goods, prolonging the lifecycle into infinity. Exclusive ownership of goods is replaced by use as a service or through sharing, like the car-sharing model. Thanks to digitalisation, decentralisation and electrification, energy consumption is more efficient, mobility will trend towards zero impact, the use of renewable sources will be maximised and every user will also be transformed into a potential supplier, as is the case with the Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) technology applied to e-vehicles by Enel X.

Our Circular Innovation

Enel X was the first service provider to offer a practical application in the context of the circular economy, with, for example, its Pole Station e-vehicle charging service. To achieve this we looked at the roots of the problem of sustainability, rethinking the entire value production chain on the basis of the five keystones of the circular economy, which can be expressed through five business models. The Pole Station and the new-generation gamma Juice stations are the result of applying the “product as a service” and “sharing” models that offer clients access to the assets without transferring ownership. The “circular supply chain” model based on renewable energy and organically-derived materials underpins technologies like the adaptive public lighting systems, which use AI to regulate lighting levels automatically according to weather, traffic and light conditions, leading to significant savings for the public authorities. The modular design of most of our solutions, and regeneration wherever possible, facilitates the replacement of all the parts and makes it possible to recycle modules no longer in use: this approach is based on two mainstays of the circular economy, “Extending product lifecycles” and “Recovering the value of what is no longer in use”.

These are just a few examples of the many solutions that Enel X has already developed to increase the circularity and sustainability of our economy. We have an ecosystem that enables us to collaborate with startups, research centres, universities and clients, opening up our product innovation to different realities. This hyper-connected system relies on the horizontal sharing of ideas, requirements and solutions that can then be trialled and rolled out on an international scale, a process of constant innovation that we have also incorporated into our corporate approach.

Measuring circularity: an economic and environmental value

To promote the new paradigm Enel X has rethought the entire value generation chain, from the supply of materials to the final phases of the product or service, taking into account the economic, social and environmental impacts. As a result we have created a “circularity scale”, the Enel X Score, which measures how sustainable our solutions are. Its purpose is to create a means of providing transparency for our clients and suppliers, making them aware of the fact that adopting circular models offers advantages in terms of sustainability, greater savings and added value.

The “circularity scale”, which ranges from a minimum level of 1 to a maximum of 5, assesses the degree to which our solutions reflect the cornerstones of circularity and the five key dimensions identified by Enel X. The use of recyclable or biodegradable materials, renewable resources and types of use that encourage sharing, efficiency and asset reuse and the recovery of materials at the end of their life are vital elements in this assessment. Applied to our solutions, this measurement technique is reflected by a RINA-certified sustainability level label that enhances clients’ environmental awareness and our efforts to constantly improve on our goods and services as well as our level of circularity.

We are also replicating this virtual model abroad. Enel X offers an innovative report that measures the level of energy circularity of companies and cities, already successfully tested on some industrial clients and public administrations. It is available to all – Enel X will produce a detailed report on the level of circularity of their business with a guided, structured road map for improvement.

Choosing Enel X means changing your life and business so that respect for the environment takes on an even more important role.


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