The French energy giant EDF will “attack” the Spanish energy services market with an initial investment of 300 million euros, which it plans to increase in the medium and long term. “Until now we have been focused on the industrial field, but we want to go one step further”, stressed this Wednesday the CEO of its subsidiary in Spain, renamed Edison Next Spain, Íñigo Bertrand, in the presentation of the plan. “We want to be the reference company in decarbonization, efficiency and reduction of the carbon footprint in Spain”. Its commitment is to focus on the business services segments, not so much on renewable projects that inject energy into the network.
The French semi-state giant has announced its plan at the launch of the new business plan of its Italian subsidiary Edison —the second largest electricity company in the country, in which it has 99.5% of the capital—, held in Milan. This strategic plan, to whose presentation this newspaper has been invited, involves an increase in investment in the Spanish and Italian markets up to 2,500 million in decarbonization, energy efficiency and self-consumption activities between now and 2030. According to its calculations, the market “attackable” of green energies is more than 70,000 million in its two main markets of the Mediterranean arch: 34,000 million in Spain, and about 40,000 in Italy.
“The 300 million announced is just an initial figure. The potential of energy services (efficiency, self-consumption, etc.) in Spain is enormous: it is a market that is clearly underdeveloped compared to other European countries”, says Bertrand in a conversation with EL PAÍS. The main factor behind this growth is the energy transition, accelerated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “In 10 years, what would have been done in 30 under other circumstances is going to be done, and that opens up a very big opportunity that EDF wants to take advantage of. Spain has a much more ambitious decarbonisation goal than other countries in the European environment and has to make a much greater effort than the rest. The clearest case is that of efficiency, but it is not the only one”.
Edison Next —the banner under which EDF will encompass its commitment to decarbonisation activities in the Spanish markets (where it has 800 workers), Italian and Polish— has also announced the purchase of Citelum, the second largest public lighting operator in Italy and fifth in Spain, with a market share close to 10%. In Spain, in addition, it has also just incorporated Sistrol, a building management company. “With these acquisitions, we became one of the two three largest energy service companies in Spain”, emphasizes Bertrand. EDF’s subsidiary in Spain, Fenice Ibérica (now Edison Next), has been present in the Spanish market for more than two decades and has a workforce of more than 800 workers, a figure that has multiplied by four in the last three years.
The announcement comes at a time of maximum uncertainty for the activity of the French giant in its country of origin and main market, where the stoppage for technical reasons of part of its nuclear reactors is compounded by the decision of the Government of Emmanuel Macron to charge his account of results a substantial fraction of the increase in energy prices accumulated in recent months. Its objective: to avoid that all the rise in prices ends up falling on consumers. In order to cope with the situation, the French State —which has 84% of the shares in the electricity company— has been forced to announce an injection of more than 2,000 million in EDF. His problems in France contrast, on the other hand, with the good performance of his Italian subsidiary, which multiplied by 3.5 in the first three months of 2022.
goodbye to russian gas
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
In the midst of western disconnection from Russian fossil fuels – and Italy is a great example of this: despite its geographical distance, more than 40% of the gas it consumes comes from the Eurasian country— and in anticipation of sanctions at European level, the CEO of Edison, Nicola Monti, announced this Wednesday that the powerful transalpine subsidiary of EDF will not renew its last gas supply contract with Moscow at the end of the year. It’s about a billion cubic meters (bcm), which it will now import from the United States by ship.
As part of this process of hasty rupture with Russia, Monti has also promised to accelerate his commitment to wind and solar energy. Also to build new gas plants and lower consumption. “We are going to go from two gigawatts (GW) of renewables to five in 2030. And we are also going to have new high-efficiency combined cycles,” stressed the head of Edison. This last point is particularly important in a country like Italy, which has not had a nuclear reactor since the 1990s and therefore relies heavily on burning gas for electricity generation.