ENEL: Renewables – Guardians against wildfires

Renewable energy plants are proving to be valid safeguards against wildfires – thanks to their surveillance systems and sensors, investments that promote the development of local communities, and even the characteristics of the plant sites themselves.

News coverage in 2021 was frequently dominated by reports of massive, seemingly unstoppable wildfires spreading all over the globe. Almost always caused by humans, these fires were further fueled by global warming, which is causing increasingly extreme climate phenomena, like terrible droughts. This has been happening in California and the western United States, Canada, and even Siberia, with fire fronts spanning hundreds of kilometers – but it is also happening in the Mediterranean, from Italy to Turkey to Greece, in central-southern Africa and the Amazon basin.

As we well know, and as the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has confirmed, reducing emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is the best way to combat climate change. This is why we are committed to the energy transition towards a zero-emissions future, through the development of multiple renewable energy plants.

Solar parks, wind farms and renewable energy plants in general are also important allies in fighting wildfires. Recently, in Pucheruelo, Spain, near Avila, it was wind farms themselves that acted as a barrier against the flames, allowing firefighters’ vehicles to pass and preventing the town of San Juan from being engulfed in flames. Spain has plenty of experience in this field: in the last twenty years, our wind farms have helped control and extinguish many fires, including those in Barbanza, Corzán and Couto de San Sebastián, to name just a few of the most important ones.

Meanwhile in Brazil, at the solar plants of Ituverava and Horizonte, located in the semi-arid Nordeste (Brazil’s northeastern region, which often experiences wildfires), Enel Green Power has supported the creation of groups of volunteers that participate in firefighting operations alongside firefighters by offering training courses and technical support, such as personal protective equipment, and providing them with a headquarters. This initiative is aligned with United Nations Development Goal (SDG) 15, protecting terrestrial ecosystems, and Goal 17, promoting partnerships with civil society.

In Italy, a thermal fuse is being tested: installed in wind turbines, it signals and prevents overheating, protecting the system and its surrounding environment. It’s being tested in Sicily at the windfarms of Caltavuturo 1 and 2, Cerda, Gangi, Montemaggiore Belsito and Sclafani Bagni Est Ovest (Palermo); Carlentini 2 (Syracuse) and Nicosia (Enna).

Another important resource are bike paths, which are frequently built alongside renewable plants, as has been the case in the United States and Greece, and in other countries as well. Bike paths not only support sustainable tourism and contribute to creating shared value for the territory, they also act as firebreaks, mitigating the effects of wildfires.

Renewable energy plants therefore act as a widespread and comprehensive protection against fires, and thus increase the safety of the surrounding areas, for the benefit of all.

Article Source: Website Newsroom