ENEL: The Sustainable Plant – a strategic model for the entire EGP value chain

For Enel Green Power, sustainability is becoming increasingly important on our journey in support of the energy transition. We are taking a bold stance on the environmental and social value that our business can bring to local areas and one of its cornerstones is the Sustainable Plant model: an innovative model that EGP’s Operation & Maintenance team, in partnership with the HSEQ (Health, Safety, Environment, Quality) and Sustainability units, have used for more than a year to redefine their operational approach at our plants with the aim of boosting sustainability not only through the generation of renewable energy, but in other ways as well.

The Sustainable Plant model is based on the principles of Creating Shared Value (CSV), which areintegrated across the GPG value chain, and focuses on three fundamental aspects. The first concerns the social realm, with the commitment to ensure the sustainable development of the communities and local areas in which we operate, thanks to a long-term circular economy approach. The second is the safeguarding of the environment, so that we value and make the best use of the natural resources in our care, rather than diminishing them. The third is a focus on operational efficiency in order to optimize the business (or give rise to new business opportunities), improve production and minimize costs.

Measuring the environmental and social impact

The Sustainable Plant, or ‘SUS Plant’, model aims to measure the benefits of sustainability practices adopted as part of O&M’s activities in terms of environmental and social performance: emissions, materials, waste, water, biodiversity, energy and people. Whether talking about reducing CO2, developing innovative systems to make cleaning solar panels more efficient, reducing water consumption or sharing the spaces at our plants with local communities, the impacts of our actions must be quantified with precise data.

For this reason, a sustainable plant can be assessed using a special scorecard containing specific KPIs (key performance indicators), such as total CO2 emissions, waste production, the percentage of materials recycled, and the consumption or reuse of water. The main challenge is then to use this data to certify the sustainability of plants using a rating model.

Great results in 2020

The results of adopting the Sustainable Plant model in 2020 have been exceptional, with 74 best practices collected from 1,049 plants across EGP’s fleet of plants. Some 5,374 sustainable practices were catalogued as having been implemented in 2019 and as many as 12,574 in 2020, all tracked on a fully digital platform. The breakdown in terms of technology shows that the practices were mainly applied to hydropower and wind plants and impacted 11 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 8 (decent work and economic growth) and SDG 13 (climate action).

The three main initiatives we carried out over the course of the year included auxiliary energy efficiency and consumption at the plants, which involved replacing lighting equipment with LED systems at all of the plants; the rollout of electric vehicles for travel between plants; and the implementation of predictive maintenance on wind turbine components to avoid breakdowns and consequent oil or grease spills.

A circular approach

In the wind power sector, as in other sectors, we’ve promoted a circular approach based on three main guidelines. These are: repair (endeavoring as much as possible to repair damaged wind turbine blades rather than replacing them); recycle (carefully monitoring waste and trying to increase the percentage of waste we recover from maintenance activities and then donating the material that can no longer be used to local organizations, schools or other local entities); and reuse (e.g., adopting filtering systems to extend the useful life of oils and greases, which are the main hazardous waste products resulting from the plants).

With more than 150 people involved in the project, 2020 was a key year not only for structuring the process at EGP level, involving new plants that have entered into operation, but also in terms of continuing to plan for the future: it is estimated that more than 1,800 practices will be implemented across the entire fleet of plants, for a total of 14,000 sustainable practices at the end of 2021. Some examples? The replacement of switches that use SF6 gas, the use of eco-friendly oils and paints, and the installation of drinking water dispensers in all of the plants to replace plastic water bottles, further discouraging the use of plastic in line with the Group’s ongoing strategy for offices and construction sites.

New ideas and new goals

In 2021, we will continue to promote the adoption of the Sustainable Plant model, beginning with the publication of a new updated catalogue of sustainable practices to be shared in all countries in which EGP operates, which will also contain a review of the practices already trialled successfully. Other milestones for the current year include the full integration of the Sustainable Plant model across the entire value chain: the model will operate alongside the Sustainable Construction Site and Sustainable Dismantling models. However, the main goal will be to measure the benefits that the implemented practices have brought to our plants in terms of reducing emissions, water consumption, energy efficiency and the production of waste, to ensure that this year, once again, the Enel Group is included in the STOXX Global ESG Leaders index.

Article Source: Website Newsroom