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contents

The future, for the past 50 years

10 history 50 YEARS OF ITALIAN PROGRESS

by Giorgio Napolitano

12 Of all scientific discoveries, electricity is the one that has transformed daily life and history the most. In Italy, this strong influence has been proven by the economic development that coincides with the founding and the first 50 years of Enel: 18,250 days in which energy has been driving historical, social and technological changes. A course that continues, even outside of our country: energy, day after day, is going to be the leading vector of the future and its challenges, starting with the environment.

editorial Enel 50: electricity of the past, present and future

by Paolo Andrea Colombo

14 editorial An ambitious adventure

by Fulvio Conti

17 stories The protagonists recount...

18.250 days of life — 50 years of energy

Five decades, six presidents: challenges, goals, changes of direction on the Italian road to electrification, as told by those who personally made Enel’s history. The direct testimony of Francesco Corbellini, Chicco Testa, and Piero Gnudi, and memories of Vito Antonio Di Cagno, Arnaldo Maria Angelini, and Franco Viezzoli by those who lived important years alongside them: Gennaro De Michele, Vittorio Vinci, and Alessandro Ortis.

24 timeline 18,250 days of life

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54 passepartout electricity is prosperity

by Elena Comelli

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scenarios the crisis As A metAmorphosis

scenarios the silent revolution

by Valerio Castronovo by Aldo Bonomi Enel’s contribution to the electrification and the social and economic development of the country: since its nationalization, 50 years of investments and projects that have been interwoven with the history of Italy.

40 interview with ettore bernabei «when we “lit up” itAly»

by Daniela Mecenate

36 scenarios electricity And mediA: AccelerAtors of society

by Aldo Grasso The link between electricity, speed, and communications has become increasingly significant and complex in recent history. By now indispensable to one another and part of daily life, these elements are the spark of continuous social change.

«According to a Baconian aphorism, three inventions have changed the face of the world: the art of printing, gunpowder, and the compass; so then electricity is jointly communication, arsenal, orientation»

“Let me tell you a story about parallel tracks, the ones we – Rai and Enel – traveled together for the development of the country.” An interview with Ettore Bernabei, former director general of Rai from 1961 to 1974, an exceptional witness who tells us about Italy in those “black and white” years, how “we did it” and how we can still do it.

«It would have been impossible to consolidate democracy and the Italian miracle without the creation of Enel. Because only a ‘State’ company could bring electricity to wherever it was needed at that time, even to the most remote regions of an Italy that was still rural and poor»

“The crisis cannot be interpreted in terms of crossing through it, such as a caravan in the desert, but rather as a metamorphosis; the system is becoming something else. In order to find the key to the problem, there is a need to clarify the cultures that, within the crisis, are being imposed upon Western societies. Cultures intended as out-and-out ideologies concerning training, that constitute the matter to be sifted so as to single out possible proposals for the future.”

50 in-depth when mAnAgement mAkes A difference

by Massimo Bergami, Pier Luigi Celli and Giuseppe Soda

«The visible hand of the managerial decisions theorized by Alfred Chandler, in the case of Enel, has transformed what was just unlikely into what is possible»

58 scenarios the evolution of electricity mArkets And the new globAl outlook

by Ignacio J. Pérez-Arriaga There is no doubt that the power sector is facing what is perhaps its major challenge in its history of less than 150 years. According to the International Energy Agency or the European Commission in its Energy Roadmap 2050, the electricity industry will have to move from a generation mix that is mostly based on fossil fuels to a virtually decarbonized sector by 2050, while supporting the electrification of transportation and heating. And this will have to take place in the midst of an on-going process of regulatory reform meant to introduce more competition and consumer choice and less governmental interference in this industrial sector.

An Italian industrial history that is worth telling. The story of a strategic cultural and organizational transformation that allowed to govern tumultuous changes and turn them into growth opportunities.

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oxygen | 16 — 06.2012

86 interview with licia troisi Insights of imagination

by Luca Morena

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contexts The nationalization of electricity

interview with paul saffo Technology, media, electricity: what future?

by Vanni Nisticò

by Nicola Nosengo

The nationalization of electricity, in 1962, is the most important event of change in the economic history of the Italian Republic, destined, as it was, to break the strongest economic monopoly and, also, the most formidable power influencing national policy.

Oxygen asked Paul Saffo – a Stanford professor and one of the few credible futurists in circulation – to predict what technology will be crucial to the future economic and industrial development. Beginning with electrical and electronic technology, which in turn is the basis for the development of the media.

72 in-depth Defusing the Carbon Bomb

by Danielle Fong

“In the past 20 years, electricity generation worldwide doubled. In the next 20 years, it will double again. If we build those plants the way we have been building them, and run them for the 50 years we expect them to last, we will nearly double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from when civilization emerged. […] We cannot assume that nature will just take care of this mess. We need something more than a faith-based strategy. We need to ask ourselves if we have the courage to turn the wheel.”

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80 visions Without light

by Gianni Riotta A look into the history of the dark, to reveal that in every age, in every form of art and religion, as well as in philosophy, for mankind, light was truth, clarity and well-being, and darkness was lies, uncertainty and poverty.

«Preferring darkness to light is the ultimate wrong, it means refusing to understand the truth: and, in his “Allegory of the Cave,” Plato imagines that the philosopher, seen in the light of the world and not reflected in subterranean shadows, tries to bring men back to the truth»

«I hope that an ordinary gesture like turning on the light will be accompanied by a greater sense of responsibility: it is something we do very lightly, without thinking of what is behind the light that is illuminating our homes» Oxygen has experimented with a small exercise of the imagination in the form of questions and answers with Licia Troisi. The aim: the drafting of a toy world, a little toy world that is not only a sketch of a possible remote-control world where intuitions and aspirations can be put to the test, but also the vision of a futuristic world.


contents

| oxygen

96 contexts Italian energy for international design

by Gilda Bojardi Throughout history, design has accompanied the spreading use of electricity and electronic objects that populate our homes. From hydroelectric plants to household appliances, from pylons to laptop computers, up to the involvement today in energy savings.

106 contexts The green shock to the automotive industry

by Roberto Rizzo

92 scenarios energy 3.0

by Simone Arcagni Energy moves and it moves the society of Italy, its history and its economy. First, the driver of the economic boom and consumer society and then, the lymph of the post-industrial economy, now energy is experiencing a new challenge: to become innovative in order to solve the problems and needs of a future that, even though it seems a bit utopian, should not be long in coming.

«In fifty years, the use of energy has changed, but energy itself will probably change, too. So a new panorama stands before us, and above all, a panorama that is changing with increasingly dizzying speed»

100 contexts The Internet of things: when it’s the smartphone that controls the house

by Luca Salvioli

After much talk, there are several models of purely electric cars now coming onto the market; a technology that, thanks to the experiments underway also in Italy, has proven to be widely reliable and fully ensures road safety. In order to increase the competitiveness of the electric car, it will be necessary to reduce the cost of the batteries, expected to be halved by the end of the decade, and to build an adequate system of fast charging stations.

The term “home automation” is not yet known universally and technology still frightens some consumers. But we are closer than you would think to having a smart home, one that is safer, more comfortable and more energy-efficient. All controlled by our smartphones.

110 science at the toy store On Mars, with LEGO

104 data visualization 2015 objective

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contributors 5 2

1 massimo bergami — He has taught at several universities and is one of the creators of Startcup, the business plan competition at the University of Bologna. Economic Advisor to the Minister for Regional Affairs, Tourism and Sport, he is the co-author of Enel. From national monopolist to global leader.

2 ettore bernabei — Director general of RAI from 1960 to 1974, he previously worked as a journalist and director of the newspapers “Giornale del Mattino” and “Popolo.” In 1974, he was named director of Italstat and since 1991, he has been president of Lux Vide, a TV production company.

3 gilda bojardi — Working in design ever since the ‘80s, in 1994 she became the director of “Interni” (Interiors), a top-notch magazine and launching pad of new trends. She has edited several publications, including the “Guides” published on the occasion of exhibitions of design in Milan, Paris and New York.

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Aldo bonomi — Director of the A.A.S.TER. Research Institute - oriented to the study of the anthropological dynamics of local and territorial development - and an adviser of CNEL. He is part of the “Lisbon Group.”

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5 valerio castronovo — He teaches contemporary history at the University of Turin and is editor of the science and history magazine “Prometheus.” He edited the Italian edition of Cambridge Economic History and has published, among others, The Legacy of the Twentieth Century and The Economic History of Italy.

6 pier luigi celli — Director of the University Luiss Guido Carli and president of ENIT, he has been involved in the management of major Italian companies such as Enel, Eni and Olivetti. He was also the Director general of RAI.

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7 paolo Andrea colombo — Chairman of Enel since 2011, he teaches budgeting and accounting at Bocconi University. He is on the Board of Directors of Mediaset, Interbanca, Eni and is Chairman of the supervisory board of Aviva Life, Sirti, Moratti Sapa Insurance and Credit Agricole Insurance Italy.

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8 fulvio conti — Managing Director and General Manager of Enel since 2005, he is on the board of Barclays plc and the AON Corporation. He is the vice president of Eurelectric and Endesa and an adviser of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia.

9 gennaro de michele — He was the director of Enel’s Research and Development of Engineering and Innovation Policies and a member of the Advisory Council of the Technology Platform for the Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants of the European Union, of and General Secretary of the IFRF. He is the author of more than 200 publications. In early 2011, he founded ejase.


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13 Alessandro ortis — Chairman of the Authority for Electricity and Gas since 2003, he is Vice President of the European Council of Energy Regulators and Chairman of MEDREG. He has been vice president of ENEL and a member of the IEA Governing Board.

14 josé ignacio pérez Arriaga

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paul saffo — An expert in economic forecasting, he is a professor of economics at Stanford University. He collaborates with the Long Now Foundation and writes for “Fortune,” “Wired,” “Los Angeles Times,” “New York Times” and “Washington Post.”

17 giuseppe soda — He has been a Professor of Business Organization in various universities in Italy and abroad. He is the co-author of Enel. From national monopolist to global leader (2011).

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Director of the Department of Sustainable Development, he is a professor of electrical engineering at the University Comillas of Madrid and at MIT in Boston. He is the director of the Training Program for European Energy Regulators at the European University in Florence. He has been an energy consultant to governments and institutions in over 30 countries.

18 licia troisi — With a degree in physics and a doctorate in astronomy, she has published the trilogy Chronicles of the Emerged World, Emerged World Wars and Legends of the Emerged World, and has become one of the world’s bestselling fantasy authors.

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danielle fong — Co-founder of Light Sail Energy, she studies the efficiency of energy accumulation in response to the energy needs of the planet. At the age of 24, she was included by “Forbes” on the list of the 30 people “under 30” who are changing the world.

Aldo grasso — TV critic for the newspaper “Corriere della Sera,” he is a lector of theory and techniques of mass communications at the Catholic University of Milan and lector of Audiovisual Semiotics at the Catholic University of Brescia. He is the author of several radio and television programs.

vanni nisticò — Since 1971, he has alternated between journalism and politics: he was a press officer of the Italian Socialist Party under Craxi and has written for the newspapers “Avanti!”, “Espresso”, and “La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno”, as well as conducting programs for Rai Radio 2 and Radio 3. He collaborates with the editorial division of the Association of Popular Banks.

gianni riotta — Journalist and author of several books, he has been a correspondent from the United States for “La Stampa” newspaper, “l’Espresso” magazine and the newspaper “Il Corriere della Sera” (of which he was also vice-director). From 2006 to 2009, he directed the television news broadcast TG1 and was the director of “Il Sole 24 Ore” from 2009 to 2011.

vittorio vinci — An electrical engineer, he has worked at SME, the Southern Company for Electricity. Transferred to Enel in 1963, he has been assistant to the Presidents Di Cagno, Angelini and Corbellini, and the Director of the Technical Secretariat of the Director General. illustrations: Elena La Rovere

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50 years of energy, millions of moments shared between us. 50.enel.com


How mucH energy goes into a moment in time?

and many millions more to come. 009


The President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano, a leading advocate of the nationalization of Italian electricity, has written a contribution for the special issue of Oxygen in celebration of Enel’s first 50 years. It is quoted in full.


Ed

editorial

Enel 50: electricity of the past, present and future by Paolo Andrea Colombo

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he 2012 is an especially important year providing opportunities for growth and improfor all of us “Enel citizens”: just 50 years vement of the living conditions of the citizens. ago, with the nationalization of the elec- Thus began the adventure of our company, which tricity industry, our group’s adventure alongside initiated its work of the modernization and devethe Italians began. A story of ambition and excel- lopment of the distribution network, the creation of lence that has accompanied Italy’s development, electrical connections with the islands and networgrowth and customs in the last half century. ks that could carry energy throughout the peninsuIt was on November 27, 1962 that, after a long parlia- la and connect it with foreign countries. Not even a mentary debate, the Chamber of Deputies passed year after the approval of the constitution of the law, final approval of the nationalization of the electri- the National Dispatching Center of Rome was creacity system, bringing together a good 1,270 compa- ted to ensure the management of the production nies throughout the country with the aim of giving facilities and transmission network, as well as the them a common administrative, technical and ope- interconnection with other countries, and it had rational organization and to meet the growing de- become the core of the entire Italian energy system, a system that, from that moment mand for energy. On December on, would never stop growing. 6th of that same year, the meEnel is now present In 1966, hydroelectric producasure became law: “Enel – the tion covered less than 50% of national agency for electrical in 40 countries, the total production for the first energy – has been instituted; bringing electricity time in Italian history, as evidenits duty is to exercise, on nato 61 million ce of the continuous and sustaitional soil, activities involving the production, importation customers thanks to ned increase in the demand for energy, which made it increasinand exportation, transportathe work of more gly necessary to resort to thertion, transformation, distribution and sale of electrical than75,000 employees moelectric production. These were the years in which Enel beenergy, from any source producing it.” This was one of the most significant came the second Italian industry regarding its sales economic reforms of the postwar period: Italy’s figures, and work was completed on the construceconomy was booming, which led to unpreceden- tion of a transmission network adequate for the ted growth but at the same time was characterized developing needs of a country that was beginning by great disparities within the country. At the time to be seen as an industrial hub in a world which, in of the nationalization, 1,700,000 people were living turn, was beginning to expand its borders; on the in homes without electricity; moreover, the diffe- night of July 21, 1969, the National Dispatching rence in electricity consumption, still below the Center detected a demand for electricity far above European average, was particularly pronounced average in order to meet the energy demands of the between the North and the South, the sign of the Italians who were watching, broadcast live on telegreat malaise afflicting the South. The creation of a vision, Armstrong and Aldrin landing on the moon. network of transmission and distribution of electri- Following the enthusiasm of the economic boom city throughout the country became the priority of came the years of the oil crisis, triggered by the the national electricity company that would enable Arab-Israeli conflict on Yom Kippur in 1973; thethe spreading of production facilities nationwide, se were years of austerity and “Sundays on foot.” 012


To reduce electricity consumption of public ligh- over 8 million households each year and to preting by almost half, the opening hours of stores vent more than 16 million tons of CO2 emissions. were reduced and television broadcasts ended at Meanwhile, following the European directives, 10:45 p.m. On December 20, 1973, the Chamber in the Nineties, the path leading to the opening of Deputies approved an agenda that, “given the of the energy market marked a new turning point serious crisis that has hit the country in the energy for our company which, with privatization, was sector,” committed the Government “to develop a about to become a multinational and was beginfirm policy of research and the development of al- ning to look beyond national borders, in an Italy ternatives to oil, particularly nuclear energy.” And which had now become a major country of the G8. it was Enel, alongside the institutions, which took So Enel has opened its borders and therefore is now up these new and important challenges and set present in 40 countries, bringing electricity to 61 out toward a diversification of energy sources and million customers thanks to the work of more than a greater attention to energy conservation; corpo- 75,000 employees. Concerning the evolving natiorate strategy planning the construction of new nu- nal and global context, our company responds eveclear plants and hydroelectric ry year with new commitments pumping plants was redefined, to improve environmental quaas well as a greater use of geo- What we are today is lity through the development thermal sources in the country. the result of the work of more and more clean reneAnd in the following decade, the wable energy, to provide access and passion of all challenges of the diversification, to electricity through the “Enaenergy independence and safety those who have made bling Electricity” program, to its of the supply went hand-in-hand Enel one of the largest Corporate Social Responsibility, with those of the defense of innovation and electricity companies technological the environment: the Brundtexcellence. Commitments that in the world land Report placed the need to our company, alongside the combine economic growth and citizens, institutions and custoenvironmental protection before the eyes of the mers, has faced and will continue to face with the world. The Earth Summit in Rio, the twentieth an- dedication and passion that have characterized niversary of which we will be celebrating this year, us in this first half century of life and allowed us consecrated these principles worldwide, forever to become the “One Company” that we are today. changing the course of world energy development. What we are today, but above all, what we will be toTherefore, renewable energy projects began to take morrow, is the result of the work, sacrifice and passhape; the program of experimentation and inten- sion of all those women and men in these 50 years sification of the use of renewable sources begun in who have made Enel one of the largest electricity those years was the embryonic form of what – 30 companies in the world. It is to all the co-workers years later – has become one of the leading com- and colleagues of yesterday, today and tomorrow panies worldwide in the field of generation from that we proudly wish to dedicate this important renewable sources: Enel Green Power which, with anniversary, a thank you in advance for the effort an annual production of about 22 billion kilowatt that they continue to devote to the growth of this hours generated from water, sun, wind and geo- company. A commitment felt by everyone. A persothermal sources, is now able to meet the needs of nal commitment, for a company and for everyone. 013


Ed

editorial

an ambitious adventure by Fulvio Conti

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n the early Sixties, Italy was in the midst tronic meter was installed on a large scale for all of its economic “boom.” These were customers, taking the first step in the evolution of the years in which well-being was being turning the electricity distribution network into a constructed with work and passion, and electricity smart grid, turning the consumer into an active parbecame an instrument of emancipation and social ticipant and promoter of a conscious use of electridevelopment for the country, as well as the engine city. These 50 years have been punctuated by chalof economic growth. To bring electricity to all of lenges met and ambitious goals achieved, and have Italy, providing the energy for growth and indu- consolidated our position as a major multinational strial development, had become a key objective of energy company. I am convinced that the best way the country. That is why, in 1962, Enel, the National to celebrate this anniversary is not only to rememBoard for electricity, was founded through the uni- ber these successes, but to emphasize our sense of fication and nationalization of 1,270 enterprises. proximity to all our stakeholders and express our This was the beginning of an adventure that has vision of what the future will bring over the next 50 seen us, alongside our fellow citizens, achieve an years. A story that encourages us to look at our daily ambitious project of excellence that drove the de- work in a longer perspective which has its roots in velopment of the country at the turn of the centu- the past, spreading and nourishing a thriving plant made of innovation, ideas, and ry, accompanying the era of the initiatives that, together, will well-being of millions of people. An adventure that shape the future. A future that Enel also fostered the creation of a competitive electricity market drove the development is already a reality for Enel today: that, starting from the Bersani of the country at the a large international group, prein 40 countries on four conDecree of 1999, has opened up turn of the century, sent tinents, participating with the to a hundred Italian and foreign competitors. A market where accompanying the era same commitment that it has every customer is free to chooof the well-being of guaranteed in 50 years of Italian history, concerning one of the se their supplier and, thanks to millions of people great challenges facing humanew technologies, can choose nity: to produce abundant, comhow best to consume energy. The electricity sector is also an important driver of petitive, and sustainable energy to meet the needs development for the Italian economy, as evidenced of a growing demand, especially in emerging and by the approximately 110 billion euros invested in developing countries. An efficient and reliable mulnew production facilities and distribution networ- tinational company, solid and steadfast with reks, from the liberalization to date, of which almost gard to its shared values​​, which operates in a global 40 billion euros were invested by Enel. This virtuous economic, social, and political scenario that is unprocess has thus allowed the electricity industry to dergoing profound changes. All the paradigms to achieve the level of one of the most efficient in the which we were accustomed up to now, in fact, seem world. Enel’s path is based on continuous innova- to have been reversed. The world economy is expetion and it has responded to the socio-economic riencing a generalized and permanent transformaand industrial needs presently facing Italy, and in tion that is seeing positive signs in geographic areall the other countries where it operates, with huge as that were on the margins of the global economy investments and new technologies, leading to the until just lately, and the phenomena of stagnation creation of revolutionary projects such as the elec- in mature economies. The growth rates of Asian tronic meter, which we pioneered. At the start of countries are now an established phenomenon, this century, for the first time in the world, the elec- and are also joined now by Latin America, and we 014


will soon see the emergence of African economies. continuous endeavor for operational excellence. This rapid development of emerging countries is For Enel, the key word is “responsibility,” namely, accompanied by strong population growth, which the ability to create shared value with the communiwill bring about a more balanced redistribution ties in which we are involved by showing a passport of wealth. A new concept of globalization is emer- of transparency. We are also a leader in sustainable ging: economic power is no longer focused on just growth and development, as demonstrated by our a few nations, but instead, ever-increasing interde- presence in the Global Compact Lead, the Dow pendence between geographical blocks is being Jones Sustainability World Index, and the FTSE 4 created, in which everyone contributes to a funda- Good. Responsibility that goes along with big plans mental part of the economy. Large corporations for the construction of energy infrastructures that are operating in this scenario with an increasing can support the growth of the countries where we institutional weight, because of their supranatio- operate, ensuring the well-being and development nal dimension and for their ability to offer concrete of local populations. Much has already been done, solutions to the needs of the population. This has putting into act concrete projects that demonstrate been confirmed by a recent study by “Fortune” our attention to the communities where we work, magazine, which identifies 40 companies among focused on reducing a gap that still exists in many parts of the world: access to electhe world’s top 100 economic tricity. Looking back on these entities. In this new role, corpoFor Enel, the key 50 years of history, many are the rations are increasingly sitting at the table of the great world word is “responsibility:” successes and achievements, Enel will continue to look to leaders, discussing, on a par the ability to create but the future by addressing the new with them, the problems of the shared value with challenges that lie ahead. An era planet. So they are not just crediin which electricity is present in ble and effective protagonists to the communities every moment of people’s lives, sustain growth over the medium in which we becoming culture and custom, to long term, but real partners are involved and fully rising to the challenge in the dialog with the commuof environmental sustainabilinities and stakeholders. Enel is the protagonist of this new model of global gover- ty. Where the generation will be emission-free and nance. We have been involved as an active partner more geographically dispersed, CO2 emissions will in the last three G20 summits (Seoul, Cannes, and be eliminated by technology, and electric mobility Los Cabos), the United Nations Global Compact, will make transport more efficient and the air of the conferences in Cancun and Durban on the cli- our cities better. An era in which the smart grids, mate, and the Earth Summit “Rio+20.” The incre- just like the Internet, are able to convey information ased importance of Enel has led to its nomination about the consumer, making citizens the protagofor President of Eurelectric, the association of elec- nists of sustainability. Enel will always continue to tricity companies in Europe, and to dialog on a par be a good citizen in the communities where it opewith other European institutions. In particular, we rates, promoting sustainable economic growth and continue to be a protagonist because we are experts continuing to adopt a clear pattern of widely-shared at our job: producing, distributing, and selling elec- behavior and to dialog with all our stakeholders. Betricity and gas, through an integrated presence in cause, as evidenced by our mission, “Enel is a servimany markets, an increasingly international mana- ce to the community, respecting the environment gement, know-how combined with a strong wish to and the safety of persons, with a commitment to improve the performance of our systems, and our ensuring a better world for the next generations.” 015


editorial board Enrico Alleva (presidente) Giulio Ballio roberto Cingolani Paolo Andrea Colombo Fulvio Conti Derrick De kerckhove Niles Eldredge Paola Girdinio Helga Nowotny Telmo Pievani Francesco Profumo Carlo rizzuto robert Stavins Umberto Veronesi

art direction and layout undesign picture editor white exclusive italian distribution messaggerie Libri spa t 800 804 900 promotion Istituto Geografico DeAgostini spa

editor in chief Gianluca Comin editorial director Vittorio Bo publishing coordination Pino Buongiorno Luca Di Nardo Giorgio Gianotto Paolo Iammatteo Dina Zanieri managing editor Stefano milano editorial team Simone Arcagni Davide Coero Borga Elena Comelli Daniela mecenate Luca morena Nicola Nosengo roberto rizzo Luca Salvioli Giorgia Scaturro Cecilia Toso

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translations Susanna Bourlot Laura Culver Gail mcDowell illustrations Elena La rovere Seltz

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Oxygen is an idea by Enel, to promote the dissemination of scientific thought and dialogue.


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stories

The protagonists recount... Five decades, six presidents: challenges, goals, changes of direction on the Italian road to electrification, as told by those who personally made Enel’s history. The direct testimony of Francesco Corbellini, Chicco Testa, and Piero Gnudi, and memories of Vito Antonio Di Cagno, Arnaldo Maria Angelini, and Franco Viezzoli by those who lived important years alongside them: Gennaro De Michele, Vittorio Vinci, and Alessandro Ortis.

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Di Cagno has a respect for others and a style that, lie poetry, resists time

1963

Vito Antonio Di Cagno A memory of Gennaro De Michele In the famous film Dead Poets Society, an extraordinary Robin Williams, playing the incredible professor John Keating, recites a beautiful poem by Walt Whitman that starts with the question, “O me! O life! What good amid these?” and ends with the answer, “That you are here, that life exists and identity, that the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.” It is a response which celebrates the poet as a timeless man. Such was Vito Antonio Di Cagno, the first president of Enel. Besides being a great manager and a fine politician, when he was the mayor of Bari, De Gasperi said of him that he was the best Italian mayor he had ever met and that he was a passionate poet. I do not wish to remember him with one of his poems, which would show an intimate side that is not very representative of him in this context, but instead, with a professional testimony that I found in the historical archives 018

of Enel in Naples where, amid thousands of meters of shelves, many of the papers of Di Cagno’s secretariat have been collected. Perfectly preserved among these papers were hundreds of job applications to the SME, the company of which Di Cagno was president before taking the same position at Enel. It is a surprising correspondence that reveals the anxieties and fears of prospective workers, firemen, machinists and electricians wishing to join the SME. Many letters are written by the mothers of boys, promoting the talents of their children, their strength, their willingness to work and also their political docility. Handwritten in uncertain calligraphy, there are often real pleas in which, rigorously addressing the director with the formal “You,” they tell of family troubles and explain the importance it would have for everyone if their boy were to have that “position.” Well: it is surprising to see that

Di Cagno responded personally to all the requests with grace, clarity and, not infrequently, by inserting an encouragement to move forward. All the letters were personalized yet similar in structure and signed in his own hand. That is no small matter at a time when there was no electronic writing, no “copy and paste” and no scanners, and it is the sign of a humanity, a respect for others and a style that, like poetry, resists time. He is an industrial manager and was president of the Southern Electricity Company, Finelettrica and Enel from 1963 to 1973. He was named to the Order of Merit For Labour (Knight or “Cavaliere del lavoro”) in 1967.


Arnaldo Maria Angelini A memory of Vittorio Vinci From my experience of professional life at his side, I am convinced that Professor Angelini would not have liked a memory that directly involved his person, but rather, that he would have preferred a connection to the concrete results of his management activities at Enel: I will refer to these. With the establishment of the new State Electricity Board, Angelini, the Director General, fully utilized all of his “science” for the immediate national coordination of the various transferred power plants and simultaneously laid the programmatic foundation for the subsequent development of the future integrated production/ transmission/ distribution system, overcoming the existing fragmentation among the 1,270 nationalized companies: in other words, he designed the architecture of Enel. This is the context in which the National Control Center of Rome for the optimal and coordinated operation of power plants and the primary network soon came into being, a center that, since its first creation, has been expanded with the use of modern telecommunications technologies, so as to become one of the most advanced in the world. And it was this extraordinary action of coordination that, in the early months of 1963, allowed for the best use of the available energy in Italy. It also avoided restrictions on consumption that had become necessary in the other European countries affected, like Italy, by the reduction in hydropower availability due to the intense cold and a strong increase in the demand for electricity. The “Professor” was proud of his creation, for the information it could provide, in real time, on the demand for electricity and its penetration into the life and customs of the country. Back then, one of the most anticipated expectations of nationalization was rural electrification. Today, we speak of the “quality” of customer service, but 50 years ago, nearly two million Italians were not able to use any electricity at all. However,

certain data was lacking, so Enel started a thorough investigation throughout the country. This was the programming tool for all the intervention plans in the sector which, already in 1971, led to halving the problem and then, the total electrification of the country. Meanwhile, public opinion’s preoccupation for the environment increased, a new challenge that Enel faced with various measures regarding the power plants and the creation of special environmental research laboratories: research and laboratories, a theme that was dear to Professor Angelini, who had started his career in 1931 as the head of the laboratory of measurements and electrical tests at the company TERNI. In Prof. Angelini’s vision, as provided by the nationalization law, the shares of Enel were to maintain the minimum operating costs consistent with the required efficiency of the service. And, in fact, economies of scale made possible by the size and by the unity of the institution, the coordinated operation and modernization of equipment, the unifications, the diffusion of automation, the reduction in fuel consumption per kWh and in energy losses, helped to substantially reduce the cost per kWh. Therefore, Enel, as noted by Prof. Castronovo in his preface of the book Fifty years of electricity industry in Italy, despite many difficulties, “has managed to carry out the tasks that were assigned to it, and thus legitimize its raison d’être.” I am sure that Professor Angelini would have been very pleased with this judgment. On February 16, 1979, the Enel Board of Directors named Angelini honorary president of the institution. Even in this new capacity, he continued to observe the same number of work hours as ever; not infrequently, he would ask me for a comment, an opinion, about publications, reports, conferences; these requests, just as when he was “in service” and in keeping with his style, were always perfectly structured and in his own handwriting.

1973 With the establishment of the new State Electricity Board, Angelini laid the foundation for the coordination of the various transferred power plants, overcoming the existing fragmentation among the 1,270 nationalized companies: in other words, he designed the architecture of Enel

Engineer and professor of general electrical engineering at the University of Cagliari and the University of Rome, he was president of Enel from 1973 to 1979, the vice president of Terni and general manager of CNEN.

019


Francesco Corbellini

Over the course of twenty years we had set up a series of power plants scattered throughout developing countries, with a total capacity comparable to that of Enel

1981 The proposal to take the chair of the presidency of Enel was made to me in December of 1978, while I was doing something completely different. Over the course of twenty years, with the help of a group of young engineers and using Italian equipment, we had set up a series of power plants scattered throughout developing countries, with a total capacity comparable to that of Enel. Prodi explained to me that the rationale behind his choice was that I most likely had the talent to construct the power plants that were required in Italy, as well. Among endless difficulties, we began to create our nuclear energy plan. We started by putting the Caorso Nuclear Power Plant in order. We prevailed upon our best nuclear engineers to explain our rea020

sons to the country and brought together a group of enthusiastic young people to maintain relations with the municipalities of the future sites. Toward the end of my term of office, the nuclear program had taken shape. The first group at Montalto was ready for the fuel to be loaded; construction of the second plant was going smoothly. We had determined the location for the plant in Trino Vercellese. All this for 5,000 MW and with the consent of the local authorities. I remember having slowly entered the vessel of the first group at Montalto with great satisfaction. For lack of room, Professor Angelini had to wait outside for me. A few days later, the Chernobyl disaster occurred, sweeping away the Italian nuclear program. The fuel was never loaded.

An engineer, he has built power plants all over the world with Italian machinery. He was Chairman of Enel from 1981 to 1987. He is the coauthor, with Franco VelonĂ , of Cursed Chernobyl. The true history of nuclear power in Italy.


Franco Viezzoli A memory of Alessandro Ortis New Year’s Day at the plant: this is how Viezzoli, at midnight of every December 31st during his presidency of Enel, toasted the new year with the staff on duty in one of the several electric power plants around the country. A symbolic gesture to refer to for a memory of his presidency. The New Year’s Days at the plant, in the “engine room,” are emblematic of the priority attention that Viezzoli devoted to the “human resources,” the proprietary supporting pillar of his corporate vision. Therefore, the professionalism and spirit of belonging of all his collaborators, at every level, were the basis of his fostering a culture of personnel management that, while also paying attention to constructive dialog with trade union representatives, moved toward: transparent selection mechanisms; training programs and refresher courses open to the maximum participation; careers related to merit; advanced tools of social assistance; individual and collective motivational contexts that were exciting and competitive at a national and international level. The New Year’s Days evoke the final balance statements of the past and plans for the future. As to the balance sheets, these reflect Viezzoli’s commendable achievements; as to the future, it will reflect the attention and creativity that he has dedicated to development strategies. He felt “his” Enel to be one of the main engines of progress for the social, economic and industrial development of the whole country: investments, continuous improvement of the quality of services for businesses and families, lessening the disparity between the North and the South of Italy. Also worth mentioning in regard to the valuable managerial legacy of Viezzoli: the financial restructuring of Enel; the absorption of the sudden “nuclear cancellation;” the timely relaunching with new replacement production; the strengthening of internal and cross-border networks; the reduction

of business costs and inefficiencies; the suitable policies for the diversification of international supplies of fuel; the gradual improvement in financial ratios. With regard to strategies for the future, the propensity of Viezzoli was constantly for innovative and advanced choices concretely supported by significant investments in research, technological development and system, with technical solutions increasingly attuned to environmental protection: gas cleaning and more advanced efficiency for the thermoelectric power plants; logistics for new and environmentally-friendly fuels, including coal and liquefied gas; the designing of landscaping for the plant premises and lines; the boosting of the geothermal sector and the solar and wind power plants; enhancing communication to promote a more efficient use of energy; initiation of studies for off-shore plants and for electricity imports from Africa to Europe, while strengthening the Mediterranean links. With this vision to promote pro-active international collaboration, he promoted dozens of cooperation agreements with other countries, thus laying the foundations that have been useful for subsequent international business developments; he contributed to supporting the European energy integration processes, favoring the establishment in Rome of the Association of European electricity companies, Eurelectric; he encouraged the activities of the latter as a key interlocutor of the European institutions on the path toward an internal “single market,” the Energy Community of Southeast Europe and the agreements for the Mediterranean. Therefore, the New Year’s Days at the Enel power plant with “his people,” so proudly felt, can help us to remember Viezzoli as a manager and a man who admirably succeeded in combining management skills and strategic vision in the fulfillment of a presidential term that still benefits and will continue to benefit our country.

1987 He felt “his” Enel to be one of the main engines of progress for the social, economic and industrial development of the whole country

President and CEO of Finmeccanica (1976-86) and president of Enel from 1987 to 1996, he was an advisor to Finsider, Italsider Italcantieri, Banco di Santo Spirito and Credito Italiano, Alfa Romeo, Assonime, Abi and Friulia Regional Financial Friulia.

021


Enel is one of the great resources of this country. I cherish a wonderful memory of it, for its ability to cope in a compact way to the many emergencies that inevitably flock to such a complex work

1996

Chicco Testa The first important letters I received as the President of Enel bore two signatures: that of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who at the time was the Minister of the Treasury of the first Prodi government, and that of Pier Luigi Bersani, then the Minister of Industry. Both letters were short and to the point. “Prepare Enel for privatization,” said the first. “Prepare Enel for the liberalization of the electricity market,” said the second. Thus began Enel’s “second life.” The first, with the company completely owned by the State as a monopoly and which began in 1962, had achieved its objectives. All the Italians had been connected to the electricity network and the service provided was of good quality. Then began the second part of its life, which would see Enel become a company open to private capital and in competition, in Italy and around the world, with other electricity companies both large and small. A phase that is still ongoing. The reaction of all those at Enel to this change was extraordinary. Both goals were achieved over a three-year period, with the entire company, its 022

executives and its employees engaged in this transformation. The result was a company that combined, as it still does today, high technical know-how and engineering capabilities with new managerial and financial expertise. Enel is one of the great resources of this country. I cherish a wonderful memory of it. For the quality of its employees, its sense of belonging and discipline. Its ability to cope in a compact way to the many emergencies that inevitably flock to such a complex work. I am pleased to be a part of it. Among the founders of Legambiente, he was president of Enel from 1996 to 2002. He is the author of Return to nuclear power? Italy, energy and the environment. He created the blog newclear.it and has been president of the Italian Nuclear Forum since 2010.


Piero Gnudi These were years of great change: the process of the globalization of the economy and finance was developing in every region of the planet

2002 I lived and worked at Enel from 2002 to 2011. These were years of great change: the shock of the attack on the Twin Towers was still strong and the process of the globalization of the economy and finance was developing in every region of the planet. The management that has governed Enel in recent years has had to interpret the processes of change and make choices that have radically changed the structure of the company. Until 2002, Enel was a major energy company that operated almost exclusively in Italy. It was planning its development by diversifying its activities in areas outside its core business, such as telephone and water services. In 2002, the new management decided to change strategy by focusing on electricity and gas, and started to focus on foreign markets to create growth prospects for the company. Turning a large corporation into a national reality

involves a profound process of transformation, especially for those who work there, due to the need to confront models, attitudes, languages, markets and regulatory systems that are very different from one another. This difficult transition has provided indisputable evidence of the quality of the professionals and the people who work at Enel. Without their spirit of sacrifice and a strong sense of pride in belonging, it would not have been possible to build one of the most important “national champions,� able to compete on the global market today. Enel is now present in 40 countries: more than half of its EBITDA is generated outside the country and it is one of the largest electricity companies in the world. There are still major challenges that Enel must face but the work begun in those years laid the foundations for longlasting and sustainable growth.

Minister for Regional Affairs, Tourism and Sport, he was the president of Enel from 2002 to 2011, a board member and vice president of Unicredit bank, as well as the president, member of the Board of Directors and on the Executive Committee of Confindustria. He is a member of the Council for Relations between Italy and the United States.

023


Tl

timeline

1962

18,250 days of life by Oxygen

1964

1965

1966

ENEL

rIGHTS

THE OVErTAkING

“The House approved the law that nationalized electricity.” With these words, on December 6th the journalist Jader Jacobelli announced, on a TV news broadcast, the birth of Enel, the National Electric Power Company, and the nationalization of 1,270 private companies

The Civil rights Bill is passed in the United States

Italian cinema is living its golden age: prizes and awards make Fellini’s 8 and ½, Pietro Germi’s Divorce Italian-style and De Sica’s Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow famous

The Italian economic miracle is hungry for energy and production is experiencing an epochal overtaking: fossil fuels exceed the historic hydroelectric energy and Italy is the first European country to build thermal power plants of industrial size and the third in the world for nuclear power capacity

SUBWAY

BrIONVEGA

The subway run by electricity is inaugurated in milan: the first 12-kilometer stretch is Lotto-Sesto marelli

Algol 11 television set is awarded the gold medal at the Biennial of Industrial Design in Ljubljana

SCHOOL

Of all the scientific discoveries, electricity is the one that has changed daily life and industrial growth the most: in Italy, this strong influence is shown by the fact that its economic development has coincided with the birth and first fifty years of Enel. Electricity has been supporting the nation’s boom, instrumental first to national unification and later to its internationalization. It has accompanied the technology bringing appliances, TVs, mobile phones and the concept of “network” into all our homes. It has helped in revising boundaries in a global perspective and energy is preparing to be one of the major players affecting the future. 18,250 days of Enel’s participation in the historical and social changes, along paths that run parallel at times and at others, are interwoven.

1963

In Italy, the unified middle school is instituted, attendance is mandatory until 14 years of age MarTin LuTher King anD John F. KenneDY mlK gives the famous I have a dream speech and JfK is assassinated

ITALIAN SCENE

inDia indira gandhi becomes the prime minister of india The BeaTLes With their first single, “love me do,” the global sucess of the beatles began. in the counter-culture style of the british group, one can glimpse the dawning of the protests soon leading to conflicts between generations and lifestyles.

1962

ENErGY IS GrOWING The National Dispatching Center is founded in rome; Enel has 13 million users and produces 67% of Italian energy.

sTarT

The Chinese Cultural revolution begins while the first bombs are dropped by Americans in Vietnam

PErSONAL, NOT SNAPSHOT OF AN ErA POrTABLE Polaroid presents film for instant color snapshots. The logo celebrating the fifty years of Enel is based on that icon

Olivetti makes the first personal computer in the world, the P101. It weighs more than 35 kilos

rELAXED HOUSEWIVES

ImAGES THAT UNITE

Washing machines and refrigerators sales boom: womens have more time for themselves

birth of enel

rED BOOk

365

730

In Italy, 5,480,000 televisions are registered: from North to South, the same language is spoken and the same images are seen

1,095

1,465


1967

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

STUDENT PrOTESTS

NEW COUrSE

INTErCEPTED

ILLUmINATI

END OF AN ErA

With the occupation of the Sorbonne in Paris, the student movement is spreading across Europe, leading to major social and cultural changes

Salvador Allende is elected President of Chile

The Watergate scandal erupts

Milleluci goes on the air for the first time, a TV program that uses light bulbs for measuring the satisfaction of the audience

The last episode of Carosello (Carousel) is aired

PEACE & LOVE In the United States, the hippie phenomenon spreads. Consciences are now looking for a new well-being that is not just economic, that will soon involve the environment and, therefore, energy.

4 TO 3 30 million Italians watch the soccer game of the century on television: Italy beats West Germany 4 to 3 in mexico

ENErGY CrISIS

380

in the mid-sixties, a project to expand and rationalize the network of transmission and interconnection at 380 kv is initiated

UNITED AND CONNECTED The North and South of Italy are connected by the power line in the Apennines

TOWArD THE INFINITE UNITY IS STrENGTH Corsica, Sardinia, Ischia and Elba are connected to the electricity network of the peninsula with underwater cables in the Tyrrhenian sea

1,825

richarD niXon richard nixon resigns from the office of president of the united states

2,190

On July 20th, man takes his first step on the moon. At 10:17 p.m., all Italians are following the event live on TV, causing a peak energy demand

WOODSTOCk The biggest concert of all time

2,555

2,920

TWiggY LaWson the image of models changes: now young thin women, dressed solely in miniskirts, are all the rage

The war of Yom kippur starts: the price of oil increases and the energy crisis explodes. In Italy, the first of the “Sundays on foot� take place as part of the austerity program and studies are begun on alternative industrial solutions

ALL IN THE NETWOrk PEACE Thanks to Enel, 99% of the country has electricity

@ The scientist ray Tomlinson invents orave, a code capable of transferring files from one computer to another

3,285

3,650

The armistice agreement between the U.S. and North Vietnam is signed

GrEEN FEELING Proliferation of the first manifestations of environmental awareness

4,015

4,380

SAVINGS PErSPECTIVE The National Energy Plan is launched and on April 30th of the following year, the Italian Parliament enacts the first legislative action on energy saving

DEmOCrATIC SPAIN Francisco Franco dies and the process of democratization in Spain begins

4,745

5,110


1977

1978

saTurDaY nighT FeVer John badham’s movie Saturday Night Fever accompanies the birth of disco

1979

1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

NEW POWEr PLANTS

ISLANDS OF DISCOrD

WIND IN SArDINIA

The thermoelectric power plants are in operation at Porto Tolle, Torrevaldaligia Nord, Fiumesanto and the pumped hydroelectric plant at Entracque

The Falkland Islands War breaks out and the crisis of the Argentine regime begins

Experimenting in the wind sector begins, with the project Vele/Sails in Alta Nurra in Sardinia

WOrLD CHAmPIONS

mAC

The Italian national soccer team wins the World Cup in Spain

Apple presents the first computer of the macintosh series

e.T. spielberg brings the most human of aliens to life on the silver screen

LArGE NUmBErS

23.82

The production of thermonuclear energy is equal to 3,200 Gwh, and there are 22 million Enel users

NEW INSTITUTIONS

COLOr TV The rai officially begins to broadcast in color

margaret Thatcher is elected Prime minister of the United kingdom

THE FIrST APPLE

ANYWHErE

BrIGHT AS THE SUN

Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak present a revised version of their Apple I. All of the electronic components are inserted in a beige plastic box with a monitor and keyboard

Sony puts its walkman on the market and, together with Philips, invents the compact disc. Two instruments that will take music anywhere

Eurelios, the first concentrating solar power plant in the world, comes into being and is the first to provide the network with electricity produced by the sun

5,475

5,840

First elections of the European Parliament

6,570

1986

ENErGY AND ENVIrONmENT For the first time, Enel’s energy plan includes a section on the environment and safety

CHErNOBYL On April 26th, an accident in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant causes the leakage of radioactive clouds

NIGHTmArES IN INk The first issue of Dylan Dog is published in Italy

rIVErS OF ELECTrICITY The net generation of Enel’s hydroelectric power reservoir rises to 6,034 GW

Enel has 23.82 million users

IrON LADY

6,205

1985

OPEN EUrOPE HOT WATEr

6,935

7,300

Efforts continue toward renewable sources with the promotion of solar water heaters

The Schengen agreement is signed, which 12 years later will lead to the free movement of citizens between the signatory countries

kILL ‘Em ALL

ELECTrONIC WINDOWS

metallica’s first album is released

The Windows operative system is inaugurated

7,665

8,030

8,395

8,760


1987

1988

FrEESTYLE Born on August 5th, Federica Pellegrini was the first Italian woman to win a gold medal in swimming, in the 200 meters freestyle race at the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. During her career, she has also won four world titles and is the holder of the world records of the 200 and 400 meters freestyle

1989

1990

mEETING THE DEmAND Enel strengthens its electricity grid, extending over 61,000 kilometers to meet the energy demands of the country, in part to follow the World Cup Championship games

FrEE TO...

1991

1992

1993

1994

THE CLINTON ErA

DEmOCrACY

The war in Bosnia begins and Bill Clinton is elected President of the United States

The first multi-racial elections are held in South Africa

UE

POLITICAL ENTrEPrENEUrS

The Treaty of maastricht is signed: the European Community will shortly become the European Union

mandela is freed and apartheid formally comes to an end. The Schengen agreement is enforced

Communications magnate Silvio Berlusconi begins his political career

THE COmING FUTUrE

1995

1996

1,270

the process of acquisition by Enel of 1,270 electricity companies is concluded

In the U.S., Amazon is registered as a company

mAGIC mOmENTS The World Soccer Championship games begin, with West Germany victorious

THE GO AHEAD Diego arManDo MaraDona the phenomenal argentine soccer player helps naple’s team win their first championship

The Italian parliament allows the liberalization of the electricity sector. Enel is moving toward privatization

kUWAIT IS FrEE The Gulf War comes to an end

WWW NEW BEGINNING HOLY WAr

The Intifada begins

9,125

9,490

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the beginning of a new global era

9,855

10,220

The computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee publishes the first website in history. The World Wide Web is created

10,585

10,950

AmONG THE GrEAT The world’s largest photovoltaic power plant is built in Serre Persano and Enel participates in the summit of the E7, the group of the seven major electricity companies worldwide

AWArDS Federico Fellini is conferred with an Oscar for lifetime achievement

11,315

11,680

WAr AND PEACE Negotiations that will bring peace to Bosnia begin, rabin is assassinated in Tel Aviv

LET’S PLAY Sony launches its Play Station

12,045

12,410


1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

NEW ImAGE

HOLY YEAr

SINGLE CUrrENCY

GLOBAL COmPACT

CHAmPIONS AGAIN

Enel is represented by a new logo, a tree, which emphasizes its connection with nature, renewable energy sources and the company’s branching out

The 2000 Jubilee is held in rome

The euro is put into circulation

Enel adheres to the Global Compact, a U.N. initiative that unites the best companies in the world involved in developing a sustainable global model

The Italian national soccer team wins the World Cup in Germany, beating France

LOOk AND YE SHALL FIND

inTernaTionaLiZaTion Enel begins its process of internationalization in spain, the united states and canada

EUrOPE WITH kYOTO The European Union ratifies the kyoto Protocol

Facebook is created and the first episode of Lost is broadcast in the U.S.

The birth of Google: the Internet becomes an essential tool for finding information

HELLO; WHO’S THErE?

mETErS GrOW

Wind, the telephone company owned by Enel, France Télécom and Deutsche Telekom, is created

BOUNDArIES Italy joins the Schengen system and Hong kong becomes a Special Administrative region of China

CONSCIOUSNESS The world begins to reexamine its attitude toward the environment with the kyoto Protocol

12,775

13,140

IN A NEW LIGHT

Enel begins to install electronic meters revolutionizing relationships between producer and consumer, and the first step toward the Smart Grids

The Bersani Decree establishes the liberalization of the Italian electricity sector and Enel makes its debut on the stock market with almost 4 billion shares on the market

NEW POWEr PLANTS

A BIT mOrE

The United States, and the whole world, is shocked by the attack on the Twin Towers

The world’s population reaches 6 billion people

13,505

13,870

NEW FrIENDS

The architect De Lucchi designs Enel’s power plants in Porto Corsini and Priolo Gargallo

SEPTEmBEr 11

14,235

14,600

MiDDLe earTh the first film of the Lord of the Rings trilogy comes out

AmONG THE FIrST FIFTY Enel is admitted to the group of the 50 leading European companies that combine business with plans and principles of social and environmental sustainability, and is the only public utility

14,965

15,330

MarK ZucKerBerg after the creation of facebook, Zuckerberg is declared the world’s youngest billionaire

ZErO EmISSIONS Enel helps in drawing up the European program, “Zero emission platform”

NEW FUTUrE? The kyoto Protocol becomes effective and Abu mazen succeeds Arafat

POPE mEDIA Pope John Paul II dies and his funeral becomes a press and social event broadcast by the media around the world

15,695

16,060


2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

FEWEr EmISSIONS

SmArT mOBILITY

rIGHT TO LIGHT

From 1990 to 2008, Enel reduced the specific emissions of CO2 from 618 g/kWh to 462 g/kWh.

The E-mobility project in rome, milan and Pisa provides for the distribution of hundreds of charging points for electric cars in public and private places. Inauguration of the solarthermodynamic power plant, Archimede

Enel Green Power signs an agreement with an NGO of India, the Barefoot College, to ensure the right to light for rural communities in South America

rEVOLUTIONS

LaDY gaga at the 2010 mtv music awards, lady gaga wins 8 awards out of 14 nominations

GrEEN POWEr The birth of Enel Green Power, the company of the Group working in the field of renewable energies

YES WE CAN Obama is elected, the first Afro-American President of the United States

CHINESE GAmES Amid thousands of objections, the Olympic Games are held in Beijing

Protests begin that will give rise to the Arab Spring

TOUCHSCrEEN NOTEBOOk

From 2012 to future 50 YEArS AND NOT FEELING THEm Enel is celebrating its first 50 years with its presence in 40 countries, on 4 continents, 61 million customers, more than 97,000 mW of installed capacity and almost 2 million kilometers of power lines

ENErGY OF THE FUTUrE In the future electricity will be the thread that will connect people to one another, with the places they are moving in and with the technologies they will be using. of many aspects of our daily lives:

TECHNOLOGY All technologies, heretofore industrial, will acquire a “personal” dimension.

BOUNDArIES The geographical boundaries will lose some of their rigidity, becoming a relative and more flexible concept.

Steve Jobs presents the iPad and Amazon begins its activity in Italy

TrANSPOrT Electrical mobility will be widespread and efficient, recharging will be faster and the battery will last a long time.

ENErGY PrODUCTION Thanks to renewable energy in particular, the distributed generation of energy will emerge.

WOrk

50

years SUN’S STrENGTH In Florence, the first solar and hydrogen power plant is opened (Diamante)

ArCHILEDE The project of street- lighting based on LED technology, Enel Sole, is started

IBErIAN-AmErICAN ENEL Enel expands its international presence in the Iberian Peninsula and Latin America with the acquisition of Endesa

16,425

16,790

A 3-D WOrLD The movie Avatar comes out

LOW CONSUmPTION Throughout the EU the incandescent bulb is replaced by the compact fluorescent bulb

17,155

17,520

of energy

ENErGY FOr EVErYONE Enel underwrites a commitment with the U.N. to combat energy poverty: with Enabling Electricity, it provides expertise and innovation to break down the economic, social and technological barriers to access to electricity for millions of people

Technological and electrical development and social changes will make working from home a common practice.

HOmE Home automation will be a reality, devices will develop a smart interaction with people, and each home will become a small, selfsufficient “spaceship.”

95%

95% of the meters in italy have become electronic

EVErmOrE CrOWDED The world’s population reaches 7 billion

17,885

18,250

conTinues

029


Sc

scenarios

The silent revolution by Valerio Castronovo

Enel’s contribution to the electrification and the social and economic development of the country: since its nationalization, 50 years of investments and projects that have been interwoven with the history of Italy. It was an English newspaper, the “Daily the success of the 600 model and other cars. Mail,” that coined the term “economic mi- The “four wheels” were then joined by other racle” to define the process of development durable consumer items, led by a lot of brand which had transformed Italy into an indu- new appliances also purchased through easy strial country in the early Sixties. That is how installments. Of course, this phenomenon surprising the rate of growth of our industry was less striking than the roaring of the cars seemed, hot on the heels of the “German lo- that were filling the streets. But the entrance of comotive,” even then projected toward the refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines into the homes of summits of the EuropeItalians marked the liberaan economy. What was tion of a growing number driving it was the strong The availability of an of women from the daily increase in exports of adequate volume of toil of housework. They some consumer products, thanks to their high quali- electricity for many people were no longer forced to ty and competitive prices. of the South meant not go shopping every single day to have fresh food; they Meanwhile, due to the fact only the acquisition of no longer had to devote so that Italians possessed a decent living conditions many hours to washing little more job income and dishes and clothes. Fureven some hard-earned but also new jobs thermore, instead of the savings for their expenand employment old stoves, they could now ses, the domestic demand opportunities use a set of four burners had also for some time on their bright and shiny given tangible signs of greater vitality and substance. This turning new stoves. And for new families that were point, after the precedent influx of motor- forming, the housing built in recent years had scooters, was marked by a fleet of small cars both new heating systems and water heaters. that took the spotlight and which were pla- In short, a “silent revolution” was consideced on sale for the first time through the in- rably improving the material conditions of stallment system borrowed from the United existence of Italians, even concerning these States after World War II. Thus, the era of very minute aspects of daily life. It was in this mass motorization began also in Italy, with scenario, where people were buoyed up by an 030


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incipient wave of well-being due to the economic boom, that Enel – the public business entity arising from the nationalization of the electricity industry – made its debut in 1963. But only a part of Italian families had emerged from a long period of privation and hardship. Many others were struggling, not

It was in this scenario, where people were buoyed up by an incipient wave of well-being due to the economic boom, that Enel made its debut in 1963 always managing to make ends meet at the end of the month, and still others lived mostly in a state of humiliating poverty and degradation, especially in the South and on the Islands. So much so, that in these parts of the country, many families lived in houses that were still entirely without electricity. The main task assigned to Enel by the go032

vernment was, therefore, to expand their network of transportation and distribution, to provide lighting and power to those people – more than two and a half million of them – living in tiny municipalities and the most remote locations where, in the past, companies had not considered it appropriate to extend their electrical service. In fact, the electrification of the whole country was the last piece that was missing for the completion of a genuine unification after more than a century since the birth of the Italian State. And to say that, ever since 1902, Francesco Saverio Nitti, an eminent expert on conditions in the South, in a paper which bore the emblematic title The Conquest of Power, hoped that the expansion of electricity would mark the beginning of a new era of prosperity for a country like Italy, lacking in fuels and raw materials. The availability of an adequate volume of electricity for many people of the South who, in the mid-twentieth century, were not provided with enough or had none at all, meant not only the acquisition of decent living conditions


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but also new jobs and employment opportunities. Thanks to a widespread, efficient electrical system, profitable industrial and service activities were able to be initiated: this would help to determine the redemption of the “depressed areas� from an endemic situation of economic backwardness and social hardship. These expectations were not disappointed after the establishment of Enel. From the Sixties onward, the wide gap existing between the electricity consumption per capita in the North and the South was slowly shrinking, following the expansion of facilities in the South and a policy of low tariffs for household consumers. Of course, even though the electrification could not fill all the other gaps of the South compared to other more advanced regions of northern and central Italy, at least it helped to make these less jarring and acted as a driving force to push the South, during the Seventies, along the road to modernization. Now that we are accustomed to living in a scenario marked by an abundance of shining lights, even many of the more elderly people have forgotten how our towns, even the ma-

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jor ones, appeared fifty years ago. Apart from a few central neighborhoods, the streets and squares of the outskirts were, in fact, poorly lit by a few public streetlights; and only the most luxurious shop windows were brilliantly illuminated. Not to mention the many provincial towns, where, at sunset and the first darkness, a kind of curfew went into effect. The possibility of being able to use electricity that was more abundant and cheaper (because Enel had been required to lower the rates charged in the past by private companies by 40%) changed the overall appearance of numerous towns, making them brighter; the old trams were replaced by more capacious and faster trolleybuses; and it substantially lengthened the nightlife, allowing for the opening of new places for shows and entertainment. In fact, since then, the dynamics of electricity have assumed rates that are substantially similar to those of the major European countries. And in the Eighties and Nineties, the correlation became tighter and tighter between the increase in electricity consumption and the improvement of the li033


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The possibility of being able to use electricity that was more abundant and cheaper changed the overall appearance of numerous towns, making them brighter; the old trams were replaced by trolleybuses; and it substantially lengthened the nightlife

ving standards of Italians. The use of electricity spread in an ever broader and varied range of machine tools, as well as television sets and telephones, appliances, and new computational and writing instruments. This second wave of electrification coincided with the formation of a so-called “affluent society,” characterized by new models of behavior and consumption patterns that were more specific and less uniform, depending not only on the level of income but also on the expectations and personal orientation of the individual users. On another front, the growing demand for electricity was making it imperative to cover requirements, to implement more substantial investments, and to expand facilities for the next generation with a higher degree of automation. Consequently, the production flows and services were expanding, with the radiating of complementary effects for the economic and social benefit of the country. Thus, if a driving force like electricity had inaugurated the second industrial revolution, the one that arose in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has continued to be the leitmotif for excellence in economic growth. Starting from the last two decades of the twentieth century, it has, in fact, been fueling the remarkable developments that have appeared with the combination of electronics and computer science, with the advent of the computer. This has created 034

the third industrial revolution, the one we are experiencing today, in an era marked by the increasingly influential and versatile applications by techno-science and the global spreading of the Internet and multimedia. Italy has kept pace with these changes of scenario and perspective from which, in the wake of globalization and the Network’s capillary market expansion, a multipolar and increasingly interdependent world has emerged, projected by the new frontiers of telecommunications and micro-engineering. So for Enel, a new and extremely challenging chapter has begun. Since the goals of public utilities that were the priorities of the original statute have long been achieved, and it has been operating since 1993 in a liberalized electricity market at the national and European level, Enel has arranged to do more than just make its energy resources more diversified and flexible. Today, it is also undergoing a phase of reorganization of its structures and of project development that must meet the challenges posed by globalization and the equally crucial need for environmental regeneration. All of this, in fact, requires a corporate culture that embraces change, internationalization, research, and experimentation. This is the only way in which it will be possible to not only enhance their potential and increase their know-how, but also to lay the foundation for a model of sustainable and responsible development.


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Electricity and media: accelerators of society by Aldo Grasso

The link between electricity, speed, and communications has become increasingly significant and complex in recent history. By now indispensable to one another and part of daily life, these elements are the spark of continuous social change.

Years ago, I was very impressed by an advertising campaign by Enel based on the awareness of the use of energy resources. Actually, it was about giving value to everyday gestures: for example, how to put a plug in a socket or turn on a gas burner and discovering that, concealed behind this seemingly natural gesture, there was a rather significant organizational effort. In one commercial, two girls draw three dots into which they then plug in their portable stereo to make it work. In another, a hiker carves notches on a stone and, turning it as if it were a knob, a flame appears. Instead, in yet another commercial, there is a workman whose greasy fingers leave three small fingerprints on a pole, into which he connects a small stove to warm a beverage. There was also, if I remember correctly, one of a child on a beach 036

with his father and grandfather, playing with an electric train powered by a socket drawn in the sand with a stick. So, one of the characteristics of contemporary technology is the production of objects in which the technology itself likes to stay hidden and with it, all the theoretical work that produced it. It is a paradox described by the philosopher José Ortega y Gasset: industrial civilization is suffering from a deep ingratitude toward its own miraculous discoveries. Once they have been invented – the telephone, mobile phone, radio, television, the computer – they are assimilated as if they were natural. When we are driving a car or turning on a light bulb, we are not asking ourselves about the internal combustion engine or incandescence. Then it only takes some triviality – a small blackout, a lamp that does not turn on – for the

discouragement to upset us. This is precisely the paradox of the light bulb. In 1881, when the ballet Excelsior was staged for the first time at La Scala, and was also highly successful, the Milanese bourgeoisie in the audience knew very well what was being celebrated: the celebration of progress, the triumph of science and the light bulb. They were celebrating the growth and not the decline, the “magnificent and progressive future” and not the culture of N.I.M.B.Y. (Not In My Back Yard). That “great Italian ballet” was a huge spectacle, with an impressive, pharaonic and sumptuous stage set and 450 people onstage. With enthusiastic emphasis, it told of the modern wonders of the nineteenth century, such as the electric light, the steamship, the telegraph, the Suez canal, and the Mont Cenis tunnel. It celebrated the glory of the shining


light that freed the poor Slave from the darkness of the evil Dark Times. Electricity has literally accelerated every phase of social development. The media, especially TV, can therefore be compared to the fastest means of transportation: just like the train revolutionized society in the nineteenth century, allowing long distances to be covered in a relatively short time, and like the automobile accelerated transport in the past century, so has the TV (perhaps electricity’s most prestigious appliance) helped to increase the speed of social life, making the changes more rapid, and shrinking or actually eliminating the geographical distances. Speed is the true experience of modernity, and the means of transport have only partially implemented it. It was precisely the mass media to standardize the experience of speed: the telegraph,

radio, and then, above all, television. “My dear friends near and far, good evening, wherever you are.” With these words of welcome, Nuncio Filogamo

One of the characteristics of contemporary technology is the production of objects in which the technology itself likes to stay hidden and with it, all the theoretical work that produced it used to inaugurate the first editions of the Sanremo Festival, broadcast by Rai right from the start, in the Fifties. In this appeal of his to viewers near and far,

these words summed up the bond that had developed between speed, the media, and modernity. In fact, the specific technology of the media has the ability to eliminate the transmission time of images and sounds, thereby making it immediate, allowing for the cancellation of spatial distance and the possibility for spectators scattered around the world (near and far) to simultaneously experience large media events. Thoughts of the philosopher Paul Virilio come to mind, who, in his Speed of liberation, reflects on the dynamics of “near-far” generated by the consumption of TV: “The paradoxes of acceleration are numerous and disconcerting, in particular the first of these: drawing closer to the ‘far’ proportionally distances from the ‘near,’ from the friend, the relative... This inversion of social practices which is 037


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already manifest in the media (ports, railway stations, airports) has been further strengthened, radicalized by the new means of telecommunications.” Enel’s “Power to the People” campaign still insisted on forgotten gestures to help us understand the “speed of liberation.” Before, we used a handle to raise the car window. Before, we rose continuously from the couch to change channels on the TV set. Before, the tape in the cassette would always get tangled in the heads of the recorder while we tried to find the beginning of the song. Before, we would wave the instant snapshot around, waiting for the immortalized image to appear. Now, everything has changed and those I have just described are forgotten gestures. Among these, there is also the expectation of receiving the energy bill in paper form in the mailbox, because now everything is online. And so, at this point, the campaign has become interactive by exploiting the enormous potential of the Internet. 038

In short, in just a few decades, the greatest revolution in the world of communications has been achieved, and has also affected our intellectual and spiritual life (according to a Baconian aphorism, three inventions have changed the face of the world: the art of printing, gunpowder, and the compass; so then electricity is jointly communication, arsenal, orientation). Electricity cannot be considered as just one of many elements of technological innovation in a complex causal relationship, because the change wrought by its power transformed the very nature of the relationship of cause and effect. In the “little airplane” campaign, a small paper airplane is the protagonist that, season after season, passes through the phases of recent history. The story adopted the rhetoric of circularity: at the beginning of the Sixties, a child draws a car on a sheet of paper and then turns it into a paper airplane. The latter crosses landscapes and eras, arriving today to a child of the new millen-

nium. There are many reasons why this Enel commercial is interesting. What is most striking is the remix work on the audiovisual materials: an unpublished story narrated by tapping into Enel’s historical archive. Thus, we see the lights of San Marco in Venice, the electrification of the country, the laying of sea cables for connecting the islands to the mainland, and many other events of different scales. The intent, in this case, is not nostalgic. The airplane floating in the sky, however, conveys the sense of history: history that is moving forward, proud of the progress that technology and energy bring with them. A simple story, obviously, that may be presented differently on the media platforms (another reason for interest in the campaign). And on YouTube, shared on Facebook, there was a special, longer version of the film shown on TV. The world of communications is at the center of a deep and radical change, something that recalls the emphasis of the ballet Excelsior: the telephone, as


electricity and media: accelerators of society

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Very white lights Advertising posters for lamps by Osram, Zeta, Tungsram, and Westinghouse, and the Electric Company for the Governorship in the Twenties and Thirties (Source: Enel historical archives).

According to a Baconian aphorism, three inventions have changed the face of the world: the art of printing, gunpowder, and the compass; so then electricity is jointly communication, arsenal, orientation

we have known it and used it for years, is no longer the phone; newspapers are no longer just newspapers; they are changing their very skin and content, the TV is no longer the TV, even the computer will soon no longer be the computer. Driving this evolution is the phenomenon of convergence. What exactly is it? Technically, convergence is the combination of several tools of communication, a fusion made possible by digital technology. Each medium is no longer intended to carry a single type of service, but is capable of delivering different contents (photography, radio, telephone conversations, TV, music). Convergence means using a single interface (the computer, for example) for many information services, i.e., to go from watching a TV series to enacting a banking transaction, from reading a newspaper to the supervision of a part of one’s house. But convergence also means that the future of communication is something that goes far beyond communication and involves anthropologi-

cal categories. Convergence is the voice of the manifold, of the indiscernible, and of the hybridized. Thanks to the ease of travel, migration, and globalization, the whole world converges, is mixed, tending toward hybridization. But how do we equip ourselves to address such an upheaval? Do we consider technology as a valuable gadget we cannot do without? Do we act as we did toward electricity? The truth is that in the communications world today, dizzying operations are being performed that could only ever have been imagined by a few writers of science fiction: the first Macintosh came out in 1984, the official birth of the Internet was in 1991. Convergence also means that we have gone from a vertical type of culture (ordered according to a hierarchy of values) to a horizontal one (all content is immediately available), based more on associations, links, and free connections than on the traditional transmission of knowledge. Worse than an electric shock, much worse. 039


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interview with ettore bernabei

«When we “lit up”Italy» by Daniela Mecenate

“Let me tell you a story about parallel tracks, the ones we - Rai and Enel - traveled together for the development of the country.” An interview with Ettore Bernabei, former director general of Rai from 1961 to 1974, an exceptional witness who tells us about Italy in those “black and white” years, how “we did it” and how we can still do it.

There is a blue book still in draft form on his desk. His book. What is it about? Ettore Bernabei, 91, replies without hesitation: “It’s about the future.” He smiles, peering from under his glasses: he knows that you would not expect a book about the future from a man his age, but rather, one about the past. An intense past, one we have come here to have told to us by the former director general of Rai, dominus of the State TV from 1961 to 1974. A period which saw Italy changing at breakneck speed, quickly passing from the “economic miracle” to austerity, from the sweet Sixties to the first cold bullets of terrorism. The years of black and white TV, of Carosello, Canzonissima, Corrado and Pippo Baudo. And the great journalistic investigations by Ruggero Orlando. “At first, they were mainly years of overwhelming development,” Bernabei says, “and I remember the route taken by all the other players in this growth very well: from electricity to the telephone networks. I clearly remember the birth of Enel in 1963, in fact, I remember not only its birth, but also the pregnancy.” And he smiles again, this elderly manager, a former journalist, in his study corner where the wooden desk is clearly dominated by the awards he has received over the years and which are hanging on his wall. Various 040

awards pertaining to Catholic culture. “It would have been impossible,” he continues, “to consolidate democracy and the Italian miracle without the creation of Enel. Why? Because up to that time, there had been a system of private electric companies, associated with one another, which thought of bringing electricity to where it was cheapest. The logic was that of industrial profit, thus supplying illumination for the cities and the most important centers: in 1963, only 60% of the country had electrical service. Only a ‘State’ company, led by other logics, could bring electricity to wherever it was needed at that time; even to the most remote regions of an Italy that was still rural and poor, still made up of small villages on isolated hilltops. Thanks to this, it was possible to bring economic development to the country and social development to the people, as well as a fair distribution of opportunities. Not surprisingly, within a very short time, Italy was declared to be ranked fourth among the world’s most industrialized countries.” And, thanks to this, radio and TV also experienced impressive development, gradually arriving in more and more homes, for more and more families: “At the beginning of the Sixties, there were less than four million subscribers, and when I left Rai in


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1974, there were more than 12 million.” Growth that, thus, went hand in hand with that of the electricity company and the TV company. “It’s true, Rai and Enel were going along parallel tracks and growing together, but above all, helping the development of the country together. An interweaving that was capable of bringing economic prosperity and transmitting values, to standardize the language and dispense knowledge on subjects that were hitherto little known, such as the condition of the poorer populations in the most remote areas of the country.” And if electricity helped TV, in like manner, TV also helped electricity: “We made inquiries concerning large areas still without electricity and the need to nationalize energy, explaining the reasons to the Italians. And then ... Well, I also remember funny episodes! Like the time when Enel noted with concern that there was an impressive peak consumption of electricity in a single night. You know what had happened? It was July 20, 1969, the landing on the Moon: the Italians were still awake watching TV until late at night.” Ettore Bernabei leans back in his armchair. He seems to be thinking “Those were the days!” “Those were years,” he continues, “when the country’s development was guided by a very precise model, the mixed economy of public companies that helped private companies. Through the galaxy of IRI companies and through the ‘State’ companies such as Enel, it was possible to provide low-cost, semi-finished energy, electricity, highways and telephone service to all the private companies that wouldn’t have been able to grow otherwise. That’s the only way we could have ever done it. With a general commitment.” And for the senior manager, this is the model that, in spite of contemporary analyses, should be good enough for the present situation. “It is the only way. That’s the only way we will be able to do it again: we are a country that has slipped into the C2 Series; we can return to the A Series only with a model of collective commitment.” But he concedes that different models prevail in the current market conditions, “privatizations and the logic of the globalized market prevail.” Then his thoughts go back to the past, to that journey along the tracks of growth. “In those years, big companies such as Enel and Rai had another merit, hardly remembered at all: the development also assured the purcha042

sing power of many Italians. In the early Sixties, in fact, the State-owned companies agreed on wage increases of 21-22%, even in the absence of inflation, and were gradually followed by all the others. And to think that the unions had asked for a 15% increase! It was a turning point for the purchasing power of thousands of families, who from that time on, began to be able to afford a television, a record player, and even a ‘500’ car, or other genuine luxuries like ... a washing machine!” Goods that seem normal now, but which were not at that time, if we think that, in 1963, only 2% of the population owned that household appliance which was the most coveted by housewives in Italy.

“It would have been impossible to consolidate democracy and the Italian miracle without the creation of Enel. Because only a ‘State’ company could bring electricity to wherever it was needed at that time, even to the most remote regions of an Italy that was still rural and poor.” Many years have passed since then. For the former director general of Rai, other professional experiences have followed; he turned ninety (celebrated with his TV appearance on La Storia siamo noi - History is us) and recently celebrated his ninety-first birthday. Ettore Bernabei, meanwhile, has gone back to TV and once again, light – Lux – is part of his life: in 1992, he founded Lux Vide, a company producing television dramas and films for TV, headed today by his daughter Matilda, and of which he is president: “Honorary President”, he is keen to stress. “At a certain age, one has to be satisfied!” In recent years, Lux Vide has produced TV series and successful movies, such as Don Matteo, Pinocchio and Coco Chanel, to name a few. And when asked what he thinks of television today, then yes, he hesitates for the first time. He stops to think. “Not all of it is to be criticized but certainly not everything deserves to be saved, either. Even today, great investigative journalism is being done, space is given to series that have something to teach the viewers. Some


«when we “lit up”italy» | oxygen

Rai TV The sets of Solletico (Tickling – a children’s television program aired in the Nineties on Rai Uno) and Piazza Grande (the Rai 2 program broadcast from 2003 to 2008).

programs are rather trite, needlessly violent and transgressive, devoid of content. Those that really irritate me are the reality shows: they are a scam, a fraud, it’s not true that there’s improvisation, but just lousy two-bit scripts performed by wretchedly bad actors.” It seems like a century has surely gone by since “his” TV, the kind of TV without color but not at all colorless; without reality shows but where there truly was realism; TV with the first advertising when “commercial TV” did not even exist yet; the slightly prudish kind, in which the height of transgression were the legs of the Kessler twins. And speaking of color, Bernabei will have no truck with the story that color TV only came to Italy in 1977, three years after its use by Rai. He says, “We were already ready in 1972 but some parties applied the brakes, saying that there was no need for color TV in Italy. They did so because they didn’t want to disappoint the interests of those foreign companies that were not yet ready. The result was that, in the meantime, the Italian companies that manufactured television sets, which had been ready and waiting for a long time, failed. These

included Marelli and Brionvega.” No one was spared, not the old “Lion,” not even the current politicians. And he takes issue with those who have little spirit of cooperation, who do not believe in Italy and “want to divide the country into many small regional clams.” But now that the interview with this bit of Italian history is over, now that this exceptional witness has taken us back in time amid nostalgia and socioeconomic analyses, now that we have explored the parallel tracks that the two companies have traveled together on the train of the country’s growth, one curiosity still remains: what does his book, that blue book still in draft form there on his desk, talk about? “I already told you: the future. Starting from an analysis of the last century, which was exceptional with regard to scientific discoveries and human progress, but terrible for the wars and dictatorships that have marred it. Then it proceeds to talk about how we could build our near future, the years ahead. I am optimistic. But the message is always the same: we can only do it together, working in a systems approach, combining resources, strengths and energies.” Still parallel tracks? “Absolutely.” 043


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The crisis as a metamorphosis by Aldo Bonomi

“The crisis cannot be interpreted in terms of crossing through it, such as a caravan in the desert, but rather as a metamorphosis; the system is becoming something else. In order to find the key to the problem, there is a need to clarify the cultures that, within the crisis, are being imposed upon Western societies. Cultures intended as out-and-out ideologies concerning training, that constitute the matter to be sifted so as to single out possible proposals for the future.”

There is no doubt that the mechanisms of the great transformation from which the crisis originates have reached a turning point. Push has come to shove after a long cycle of economic and political transformations that have disrupted the equilibrium established among the political, social and economic spheres. What closed with the shock of 2008 was a long cycle of development, naturally at differing speeds, in which the geo-economic importance of the great nations of the world have gradually changed. A major transformation, in the words of K. Polanyi, that has shaken the ethical and political, as well as the economic, foundations of the capitalist production mode. It is no longer enough to ask what to produce and for whom, or for what market. The crisis of economies based on debt and the environmental limit to development ensure that the merchandise will have to increasingly incorporate the question “To what purpose?” A shift in viewpoint that, in the first place, applies to that particular commodity, which now is energy. We must therefore understand that the crisis cannot be interpreted in terms of crossing through it, such as a caravan in the desert, but rather as a metamorphosis: the system is becoming something else. In order to find the key to the problem, there is a need to clarify the cultures that, within the crisis, are being imposed upon Western societies. Cultures intended as out-and-out ideologies concerning training, that constitute the matter to be sifted so as to single out possible proposals for the future. So let us start by saying that, precisely

concerning the crisis and its possible outcomes, it seems to me that there are at least three ideologies at work today that should be taken into account. The first ideology claims that we are facing a real crisis of the system, a general derailment that is rooted in the relationship between civilization and nature, and which is no longer sustainable. The crisis is systemic and, therefore, the shortcuts that once again propose the same structure of the twentieth century welfare system today are highly unworkable. The “ideological” output is the paradigm of the “happy decline,” according to the economist Serge Latouche, a kind of “pedagogic catastrophe” in which the environmental limit itself is the wall that the crazed fireball of capitalism is running into. A paradigm that still exists within the elite and metropolitan intellectual circles, but whose influence cannot be underestimated when the likely emergence of phenomena of medium-term structural unemployment will force the Western societies toward a “decrease” in consumption, as real as it is “unfortunate.” Tangent to this, there is also the position of the youth movements that have grown up in and around the crisis, those of the “99% vs. 1%,” a sort of inter-classism of the multitudes, showing how the current crisis touches not only the proletarian classes of the twentieth century but also the middle class, crushed in the grip of policies of public austerity and of finance, which no longer allow the market results to “trickle down” in the markets. A position that directly raises even the 045


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question of the emergence of a modern capitalism of networks seen as an alternative to the public nature of goods such as energy, mobility, water, etc. The second position is typical to the circuits of the technocratic elite who propose themselves today to be directly governing, claiming the need only for “structural adjustments” in the markets, to accompany the system to its new market equilibrium. For a short time, it was also a credible hypothesis at the beginning of the century, with a financial system that was presented as a channel of integration in markets open to everyone. All this within the crisis of a policy which has not been able to take this opportunity to redesign its role concerning the economy in a way that is not so secondary. To give the impression of giving way to the myth of the government of statesmen. A passage that we should also consider in terms of the balance within the bourgeoisie of this country, because it is evident that the rise of central and metropolitan elites, such as those that constitute the current national government, in many ways marks the decline of the hegemony of a widespread neo-bourgeoisie of molecular and territorial capitalism. Creating tension in the relationship between mass market and democracy, now greater than ever since the birth of the mass liberal democracies. Tension that brings up the issue of an “aborted constitution,” in the sense of the European Constitution. A position having paradoxes that can hardly be overcome unless it fully 046

Enel and butterflies Are you really sure that a floor can’t be a ceiling? is a quotation by Maurits Cornelius Escher which became the title of the work by Liesbeth Bik and Jos van der Pol, who won the 2010 edition of Enel Contemporanea. “This model,” explain the two artists, “is a temporary home for butterflies, seen as the ultimate actors of the idealistic ideas of transformation, change, and recycling, characteristics inherent in their life cycle.”


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embraces the prospect of European democracy. And so, between these two poles, can there be any space for a laborious “third way”? I think that, in the metamorphosis of a capitalism that is being revamped, one can think about a perspective for the future by using the concept of “green economy.” An oft-abused concept with very strong margins of overlapping also concerning the two alternative ideologies just mentioned. A green economy is primarily capitalism that incorporates the environmental limit into its process of accumulation. It is the driving force of a new cycle. It is an issue that also incorporates the topic of consumption moderation and a new Keynesian strategy of new investments. These are the two starting points to which attention must necessarily be paid. The idea of green economy, if located in the actual conditions of the capitalist cycle that we are experiencing, can help us to rebuild a development project on new foundations that combine the idea of progress with the idea of limit. However, to avoid misunderstandings, the concept should be “unwrapped,” disassembled from the inside. Because in hindsight, we can identify at least three versions which take on contradictory meanings and political outcomes. First of all, green economy in terms of world economies is also a huge financial bubble (the next one?) with the financialization of food commodities and the panic-buying of agricultural land in Africa and Latin America in order to produce

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fuels that are an alternative to oil, which is being depleted. On the other hand, there is a second variation of green economy, linked to the idea of a diversity of models of capitalism and, in the case of Italy, which is at the root of our territorial and localist production system. A territorial, grassroots green economy that follows three channels.

Within the metamorphosis of a capitalism that is being revamped, one can think about a perspective for the future by using the concept of “green economy” The first is the evolution of molecular capitalism, as an adaptation of the productive economies of small and medium enterprises concerning the environmental compatibility of their production, of a light innovation of the manufacturing processes and design of the products. The second, and more cultural one, the evolution of a tendency toward “villager” living, the tendency to a better quality of life typical of the metropolitan spleen of large segments of the middle class, the reflective protagonist since the Nineties of a post-materialist evolution of lifestyles and consumption. And which creates the social and cultural basis for phenomena such as Slow Food, Eataly, the 047


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A green economy is primarily capitalism that incorporates the environmental limit into its process of accumulation. It is the driving force of a new cycle

networks and academies of culinary taste proliferating in the territory, etc. A phenomenon that reactivates and channels the local market traditions, somewhere between economics and social representation, organizing production chains and that has important democratic and participatory opportunities at the same time. Third, grassroots green economy is also a new kind of work, intended both as a problem of the new quality of work and as a new social composition with new needs. It is the emergence of mutualism practices that address the impact of the debt crisis on daily life concerning questions about protection and participatory management of the common resources, of networks, of credit itself, by organizing at a local level in the cities and territories. However, what is truly needed at this stage is the ability to synthesize these trends, transforming them into a hypothesis of new compatible development. A difficult task to be carried out according to the usual logic of the proliferation of business. Instead, what is needed is a middle way, one that is not reducible to “small is beautiful,” adopted by the subjects who have structures and resources to deal with it by accepting the technological challenge, and who have management teams and the organization to “think long-term” by becoming the driving forces in a new industrial policy. So a vision of the green economy, somewhere in the middle between finance and territory, that for lack of a more adequate label I would define as neo-Keynesian, and which, as far as I am concerned, is the real challenge if we want to get the relationship between economics and development with its feet back on the ground. This means thinking of a third industrial revolution, the purpose of which would be to push forward the frontier of technological discontinuity, for example in terms of the energy issue, to replace an era of fossil fuels and chemical derivatives. But to do so, there needs 048

to be the establishment of infrastructures and poles that have the appropriate mass impact. A perspective that directly calls for a subject such as Enel: because today, it embodies both a tradition of national function and an evolution into a big player in the capitalism of networks. And because energy is the first good that, in view of new developments, incorporates a dual nature of being a good that is now financialized and a common good that has systemic functions. It is clear that all this means rethinking the public role, outside the box, of old patterns of the IRI and the neo-liberal rhetoric. A role that lies somewhere between the center and the periphery of the system. In Italy, we have centers of excellence on this front, we are not at year absolute-zero. At the center, there are other large companies as well as Enel, such as Eni, whose function should be discussed; in the territory, the network of multi-utilities inherited from the old municipal ones account for possible anchor points. A neo-Keynesianism should have two conditions: one is the de-financialization of finance, leading banks to reinvest money to produce goods as well as other money. All these arguments are possible if politics and society, placed in the midst of the flows and places, can manage to poleax finance in a logic of development loans. The second is the definition of a pact between territorial capitalism and the big players in the energy sector; a pact that should be the real engine of a new industrial policy. This means having the ability to imagine a neo-Keynesianism that is not centralized in the hands of the nation-state but rather, the ability of centers of excellence to act as fertilizer for the local green economy (labor, common goods, cities) with a new center-periphery relationship. A challenge that primarily affects those who, like Enel, as to history, size and collective function, can decide whether to play the game of globalization as a kingpin of a new system strategy.


the crisis as a metamorphosis

| oxygen

Butterfly Effect It is said that the slightest flutter of a butterfly’s wings is capable of causing a hurricane on the other side of the world. This is the “butterfly effect,” but – as far as the work of Enel Contemporanea 2010 is concerned – it should be rethought in terms of sustainability: a small daily action can lead to large changes in the system.

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in-depth

When management makes a difference by Massimo Bergami, Pier Luigi Celli and Giuseppe Soda

An Italian industrial history that is worth telling. The story of a strategic cultural and organizational transformation that allowed to govern tumultuous changes and turn them into growth opportunities.

Less than 15 years ago, Enel was a monopolist domestic operator. Today, although still called the National Agency for Electricity, its identity has changed dramatically. Since 1998, the most important national electricity company has managed to undergo an extraordinary metamorphosis.

The visible hand of the managerial decisions theorized by Alfred Chandler, in the case of Enel, has transformed what was just unlikely into what is possible The faces, investments, technology and stories that have appeared in recent years have helped to turn a structured public body into a global enterprise and a leader in the field. The fact that Enel could manage this evolution 050

is not something to be taken for granted: the history of privatization and major industrial changes is littered with failures or incomplete transitions, in Italy and worldwide. How can Enel’s success be explained? How did a monopolist company manage to deal with the crucial challenges of deregulation? Much evidence indicates that this is one case where the evolutionary dynamics go well beyond the sectoral explanations, a case from which many lessons can be learned about management and the transformation of businesses in conditions of high uncertainty and environmental dynamism. An industrial history that allows us to draw up a “minimal manual” of what it means to lead a company through transformation, without losing its roots along the way. The reconstruction of this story offers a perspective that contradicts the idea of a purely “adaptive” or passive management with respect to the exogenous pressures, as described by

many economists. Precisely because embedded inside the deep transformations largely beyond control of the company, the case of Enel shatters a deterministic and reductionist interpretation of strategic management. It exalts a perspective of the company and the management action as proactive actors capable of implementing strategies which largely contribute to determining the market contexts, without necessarily having only to adapt to or passively suffer from the dynamics. In other words, the visible hand of the managerial decisions theorized by Alfred Chandler, in the case of Enel, has clearly expressed the counterintuitive effects, transforming what was just unlikely into what is possible. However, another and more interesting explanation can be added to this first reading. Not only has the company been able to proactively transform the pushing from a hostile environment; it has ably surpassed all the phases of tension and critical moments in its hi-


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story by developing an adaptive capacity of a higher order that has allowed it to continue producing skills and greater knowledge, instrumental to the anticipation of the dynamics and challenges in the contexts in which they found themselves operating. The most obvious example of these business skills has been the combination of decisions and actions that preceded and followed the process of liberalizing the energy sector, which started in 1999 with the Bersani decree. This governmental measure required Enel to implement corporate separation for the production, transmission, distribution and sales activities, as well as the obligation to reduce its production capacity. In line with the decree, the company had to initiate and rapidly complete a process of “organizational breakdown” that led to the creation of Enel Production, Terna and Enel Distribution. The most disruptive aspect for Enel, however, was the obligation to reduce its production capacity: in a relatively short time, the company had to renounce an ability to produce energy equivalent to that produced in Belgium and Holland. Its share in the domestic market for electricity went from 77% in 1996 to 26% in 2008. The effects of this external process of downsizing were dramatic: in four years, from 1998 to 052

2002, the ROI (Return On Investment) went from 15.4% to 5.9%, in a situation of a domestic market without any possible option for future growth. Faced with the “perfect storm” triggered for the most part by exogenous factors, the most likely scenario that arose was that of a “home involution”: the management could have reorganized the company on a smaller scale by invoking non-responsibility concerning the choices of the inevitable decline, the imposition from the outside of a fate of downsizing and marginalization in the competitive international game that globalization has been generating. The managerial logic, instead, has worked in the opposite direction. Contrary to many expectations, Enel managed to ride the exogenous dynamics with a process of organizational, business and technology transformations that quickly made it one of the most active global players in the energy sector. And only four years after the collapse of the return on investments, the ROI was back to the pre-liberalization levels. So Enel has done it then. But how did it manage to escape from the trap of the “home involution”? One of the keys to its success was the cultural transformation that had begun in the mid-Nineties, and that still casts its


when management makes a difference

| oxygen

Enel’s management has understood that the context and flow of history required the “body” to become an “enterprise”: an epochal cultural change that has transformed Enel into an organization able to autonomously navigate the high seas of the market

positive effects. In fact, the company had been preparing in advance for the impact of liberalization by abandoning the logical operations of the public body and changing its organizational structure according to the dynamics of the market. For example, between 1996 and 1999, the number of managers was cut in half and internal careers were decided upon based on the criteria of profitability and efficiency rather than seniority. In the years of liberalization, then, Enel tried to balance the reduction of its share of the electricity market by hunting for new business opportunities and becoming a multi-utility. When the multi-utility scenario faded, management quickly succeeded in refocusing its activities on its core business of energy by launching a major international expansion plan to recover market shares abroad that had been forcibly abandoned in Italy. In the second half of the last decade, Enel established itself as a global player through the acquisition of important foreign companies. Enel’s management, in fact, has understood that the context and flow of history required the “body” to become an “enterprise”: an epochal cultural change that has transformed Enel into an organization able to autonomously navigate the high seas of

the market. The story of Enel is emblematic: a context of potential crisis has been turned into an opportunity for evolution and global growth. Alongside the dynamic capabilities and cultural transformation, Enel has always sought an effective balance between the dynamics, exploration (market and technological) and continuity, and the excellence and reliability of service by strengthening and consolidating its technical know-how which is at the heart of its operational capacity. The three groups of leaders of the top management of Enel in the last 15 years have, in different ways and compared to non-overlapping agendas, altered and led the way in which the whole organization has construed the context, the market, the world. The corporate leadership acted not just to rationalize the events as they appeared. Instead, it favored the “how they could be.” What was perceived as a threat has become opportunity, what seemed improbable is now possible. The sense-making of the management, in particular, has clearly been shown in the most critical moments and at the most uncertain junctures related to the challenges that the company has had to deal with from time to time. The leaders, however, have not limited themselves only to

“make sense of it,” a crucial factor in complex organizations, but rather to convey this meaning and the direction undertaken to the entire company. In other words, they have functioned as “suppliers of meaning and direction,” thus aiding the speed and effectiveness of the transformation. Also crucial and strategic has been the ability of Enel to obtain a strong legitimacy from institutional stakeholders, often represented by the governments of nations in which an energy producer was operating, but which in the case of Enel, also included the community and financial markets. Naturally, every point of arrival is a starting point. In the context of globalization and in the context of the geopolitical scenarios that are emerging, the game of energy, together with that of food, perhaps marks the field of challenge for people and nations in the years to come. Today, Enel has taken its first step toward becoming a protagonist in a challenge that is still to be played out, which it can either win or lose. The ambition is there, as are the internal energies, as well. Financial resources need to be balanced quickly, the strategies refined, but more importantly, it will be the implementation of these that can make a difference, knowing that the context may change again so very quickly. 053


electricity is prosperity: 2012

2002

1992

1982

1972

1962

growth of gDp and electricity consumption per capita from 1962 to today

norTh aMerica 196%

175% 120%

177% 144%

76%

166%

96% 61%

37%

LaTin aMerica

246% 182% 117%

100% 55%

71%

51%

47%

15% 0%

europe 236% 204% 157%

160% 135% 114% 69%

80% 48%

054

69%


electricity consumption

2012

2002

1992

1982

1972

1962

gDp

355%

asia

319%

205%

129%

113% 60%

37% 35%

33% 0%

oceania

327%

329%

261%

177% 134%

114%

93% 64%

46%

29%

aFrica 203% 144%

107%

82%

69%

64%

32%

39%

34%

0%

Electricity consumption data source: statistical review of World Energy bp (kWh per capita) gpd data source: maddison historical statistics (international dollars per capita)

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in-depth

electricity is prosperity by Elena Comelli

for italy, the worst signal came in 2009. it was the first time since the birth of the republic that electricity consumption had dropped for two consecutive years. sifting through the historical sequence, starting from 1883, when the use of electricity in italy began, it turns out that not even the first World War or the great depression of 1929 had halted electricity consumption for two consecutive years. only the second World War managed to cause a such a long setback. WWii and the 2008-2009 crisis. With a predictable relapse in 2012, clouding a number of months in the negative: – 5.2% in march, – 6.2% in april, and in may, -4.1%. from this data, we can deduce that electricity consumption is correlated with economic growth. if its consumption drops, it means that industrial output has decreased: in a manufacturing country like italy, it is a sure sign of recession and, in fact, prospects for the italian economy converge on a negative growth of at least 1.5% in 2012. it is a very close relationship, which in recent years

056

has gradually been changing into a global process of technological change, but it is still very solid. besides, we should not forget that work has always been linked to energy: the unit of measure for energy is the work done and there is no work without energy. after having obtained energy for millennia from the muscles of men and animals, from the force of falling water and wind capable of moving the mills, from the power of fire and steam, we were finally able to harness it efficiently with the mechanical production of electric energy, which, little more than a century ago, started the second industrial revolution. since then, new machines and new sources. from coal to oil and gas. in a few years, electricity bumped up the production of goods and services at an entirely inconceivable pace. the work of a man cannot exceed 50 watts of power for more than 12 hours a day; thus, calculating a daily supply of 0.6 kilowatt-hours, in order to replace all the electricity that is produced in italy today with human labor, every citizen of this country would have to have at

least 20 slaves. for many countries – those who possessed them – energy sources from fossil hydrocarbons were an innovative solution to the problem of the constraints resulting from the balance of payments. the major industrial powers were first built with the use of coal, then with hydroelectricity taking the place of coal, thereby avoiding dependence on foreign energy to supply all the energy needed for development. but for the industrialized countries, the real electricity revolution came after World War ii. the tasks were enormous and the hydroelectric reserves were insufficient to provide all the energy needed for industrial production. the solution was found by using gas equipment and the decision to obtain supplies of oil on world markets, or to produce more at home: the united states is the model country in this regard. but italy, which in 1950 produced 22,000 of the 25,000 gigawatt-hours required per year with hydroelectricity, was forced to use other sources in 1980 to meet a


demand multiplied by seven, nearly 180,000 gWh, while the hydroelectric production had already almost reached its limit, with 45,000 gWh generated that year. thermoelectric production, which in 1950 came to 2,000 gWh per year, had jumped to 130,000 by 1970, generated mainly by oil. added to this were the over 6,000 gigawatts of nuclear power, of which italy was a pioneer. for the first time, in those years, the production of electricity had become plentiful and everything seemed easier. it had once been conditioned by nature: one produced electricity where there were waterfalls and then it was transported far away. now the power plants are being built wherever there are available sites, preferably close to the centers of consumption. a barrel of oil contains 1.7 megawatt-hours of electricity in a compact space: a huge energy potential, fairly easy to be transported and to be exploited right where it is needed, just by burning it. for the moment, it is still a source that has no comparison from the viewpoint of practical use. the italian system of

electrical generation, like that of the other industrialized countries, was largely achieved in those 30 years. the same that presented us with an economic boom unprecedented in human history. but also the first major oil crisis in 1979-80. from then on, nothing would ever be as before. the era of easy oil is over and it can be said, with good approximation, that the intoxication of those 30 years should be considered finished. the dynamics of social and cultural expectations have deeply complicated the scenario, especially in countries that, until the Eighties, seemed stalled in underdevelopment and which, instead, are now tumultuously launched toward growth. this dynamic of expectations is a powerful mechanism for innovation: today, even the indio farmer in the andes and the farmer in guangdong or in anatolia want to live according to a standard that would once have been inconceivable and which, instead, they now seek incessantly, along with the citizens of nations that were industrialized earlier. Even for them, electricity will be essential for achieving

new levels of well-being. but a new technological revolution will have to come to pass in order to respond articulately to these new needs. this is a matter of a worldwide process, which is already beginning to emerge from the statistics of industrialized countries: social and political development extends the ability to choose among the energy sources, in favor of the most profitable for raising the quality of life. the progressive decarbonization of the economy, thanks to the new technologies of energy production from renewable sources such as solar and wind power, and thanks to new, more efficient electricity grids and the development of service industries, the trend of electricity consumption is gradually decoupling from the trend of economic growth. a first hint of this can be seen in the graph (in the preceding pages) regarding the united states. a similar phenomenon will soon be seen in Europe and, in the future, also in asia and around the world. now the challenge is to accelerate this revolution and smoothly usher mankind out of the oil era.

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scenarios

The evolution of electricity markets and the new global outlook by Ignacio J. PĂŠrez-Arriaga

There is no doubt that the power sector is facing what is perhaps its major challenge in its history of less than 150 years. According to the International Energy Agency or the European Commission in its Energy Roadmap 2050, the electricity industry will have to move from a generation mix that is mostly based on fossil fuels to a virtually decarbonized sector by 2050, while supporting the electrification of transportation and heating. And this will have to take place in the midst of an on-going process of regulatory reform meant to introduce more competition and consumer choice and less governmental interference in this industrial sector.

Drastic regulatory and structural changes are not new in the power industry. The early power sector developments at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century were mostly driven by private initiative and competition. However, the realization of the essential nature of electricity, the need for ever increasing volumes of investment and the necessity to protect both the companies against abusive intervention and the consumers from excessive tariffs and poor quality, led in most countries to the replacement of the free competitive model by strong governmental intervention in the form of public ownership or treatment of the electricity companies as regulated monopolies, either publicly or privately owned. During most of the past century and until the 1990s, worldwide, electricity industry regulation was based on a quasi-standard regulatory approach involving heavy State planning and intervention, with the State 058

being the sole regulator. Under this traditional system, prices are regulated to cover the costs incurred by electric utilities, while investment either requires regulatory authorization or is State-planned. This approach precludes any electricity market per se and transactions are conducted according to the rules laid down by the regulator. Consequently, the vertical and horizontal structure prevailing in the industry is of scant importance, which often has led to the existence of a single utility, a vertically integrated monopoly with a territorial franchise. In Europe, for instance, prior to the 1990s’ liberalization process, most major countries (except for Germany and Spain) had just one single, publicly-owned electric utility. This regulatory framework worked well for several reasons. Investment in electricity infrastructure was a lowrisk activity when the industry held a franchise monopoly and was vertically integrated. Utility companies fore-

casted demand growth, made a leastcost investment plan and submitted it to the regulator, requesting funds to implement it. Utilities could normally borrow capital to implement these plans at low interest rates, since there was a regulatory guarantee that future revenues would be adequate to cover investment costs. Today, this traditional regulatory paradigm has changed in many countries. Chile (1981) started the process, followed by England and Wales (1990), Norway (1991), Argentina (1992) and many others on all continents. The main component of this change is the creation of electricity markets that provide the platform for trading and establishing prices. The first step in creating such markets is the elimination of the limitations to competition that characterise the traditional scenario. Abolishing these limitations suffices to create markets for many manufactured or agriculture products such as textiles


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or wheat, where suppliers abound and they can compete without the need for any other specialized infrastructure. In the electricity industry, however, regulatory reform must address an additional element, namely vertical and horizontal restructuring and the absolute need to use networks to deliver the product. The gradual exposure of traditional, vertically integrated utilities to competition was initiated in response to concerns about energy security and independence from foreign energy sources as a result of the 1970s’ oil crisis. This and other concerns led the United States and other developed countries to enact rules that favored the development of renewable energy and cogeneration. Although the volume of generation was very small compared to generation from vertically integrated utilities, these new participants introduced a completely new scenario in the electricity industry. What had been a closed shop 060

for many years, opened its doors to independent power production, albeit with very specific characteristics. Other factors favored the advent of independent power production, which was not restricted to renewables or cogeneration only. Electricity prices under traditional regulation had consistently declined for many years, aided by technological developments and the fact that economies of scale had not yet been fully exploited. That also changed in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, leading to more stringent regulatory reviews of utility costs, raising vertically integrated utilities’ risk, and encouraging them to seek alternatives to cover the investment needed in generation. When new investment was needed, these utilities began to buy the production required from third parties under a variety of instruments, typically known as “power purchase agreements,” subject to the approval of the regulatory authorities. The costs involved were


the evolution of electricity markets and the new global outlook

then passed on to consumers with no risk to the incumbent utility. Such independent power production became standard practice in the USA, until the 1992 Electricity Act allowed “independent power producers” to trade freely in the power system and sell wholesale power anywhere to any vertically integrated utility or distribution company. This entailed open access to the transmission network. Selling to end consumers, or “retail competition,” was not allowed, however. This area of the market was liberalized years later, at the discretion of individual state regulators. Other countries such as the UK, Norway, Argentina, New Zealand or Australia got off to a later start but carried liberalization through to completion much more swiftly. Similar transformations in developing countries were driven by a number of factors. After years of large investment projects and subsidised rates, which were often insufficient to

recover costs, state-owned electricity companies in many countries lacked the resources to continue investing.

Twenty years of liberalization and restructuring have taught us that creating wellfunctioning, competitive wholesale and retail markets for electricity is very challenging, both technically and politically, and cannot be applied everywhere As a result, they resorted to independent producers, private companies keen on entering the generation business. Plant construction and operation was often tendered. Several electric power systems are presently organized around these arrangements today.

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The massive entry of independent power producers in the electricity industry in the 1990s and the early twenty-first century was favored by an environment of declining interest rates, controlled inflation, liberalization of capital movements and development of financial markets. The present prevalence of private investors in the electricity industry, hitherto mostly controlled by stateowned companies, has brought fundamental change to the perception of risk and investment priorities. Finally, the new regulatory paradigm, announced by the pioneer reform in Chile in 1981, restarted its implementation in the early 1990s and swept the world. The jury is still out regarding how beneficial the liberalization has been for consumers and electricity providers. The objective of the reform was to create new governance arrangements that could provide long-term benefits to consumers. Electric utilities were restruc061


oxygen | 16 — 06.2012

tured; the potentially competitive activities of generation and retailing were unbundled from the network activities of transmission and distribution, which remained under regulatory control while offering open access. Independent system operators were given the responsibility of running the power system securely and guaranteeing the provision of ancillary services. Competitive wholesale and retail markets were created to improve efficiency and responsiveness to consumer preferences. Consumers had the freedom to choose suppliers. Incentive regulation was introduced in the network activities to improve their efficiency. Independent regulatory agencies were created to monitor market behavior and implement the regulation of the diverse activities. And the role and political influence of governments was reduced. Twenty years of liberalization and restructuring have taught us that creating well-functioning, competi062

tive wholesale and retail markets for electricity is very challenging, both technically and politically, and cannot be applied everywhere. Where properly implemented, wholesale markets have led to improved performance and have attracted significant investments. Despite some failures and implementation difficulties, the general trend in most liberalized power sectors is to proceed with the process of reforms. Experience has shown that regulatory reform only delivers efficiency and benefits to consumers if the regulation is well designed. And that achieving an orthodox regulation requires a firm political commitment to the reform. The numerous failures have had multiple causes. Most of the time, failures happened because of inadequate structure of the power sector to accommodate competition at wholesale or retail levels, because of excessive horizontal concentration in the competitive activities, insuf-

Before the liberalized model had the time to consolidate, we are facing again a new change of paradigm that will have to lead to a future power system very different from the present one


the evolution of electricity markets and the new global outlook

ficient unbundling of competitive and regulated activities or lack of volume to hold competition, or lack of a suitable institutional framework. In other cases, the problem was an incorrect allocation of risk in the regulatory design, exposing some parties to unacceptable risk levels, as happened in California. Poor design of default tariffs may kill the retail market. And flawed market pricing rules, or the absence of adequate compensatory mechanisms, may lead to insufficient remuneration and lack of generation investment. Frequently, the absence of clear business models and rules for cost allocation, as well as the absence of expeditious siting procedures, have hampered transmission investments from keeping up with demand growth and generation expansion. The success of regulatory reforms requires the adoption of an orthodox regulatory approach. However, the reforms will not succeed whenever

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the underlying structural and institutional conditions are not adequate or if there is no firm political commitment to the reform. Regulatory models are not easily transferred to countries facing different sets of conditions. Finally, nationalistic energy policies may ruin the best efforts in achieving effective supra-national electricity markets and even competitive domestic markets, as well. Before the liberalized model had the time to consolidate (the European Union has set the target of 2014 for the completion of its Internal Electricity Market, for instance), we are facing again a new change of paradigm that will have to lead to a future power system very different from the present one. The serious and justified global concern about climate change is profoundly affecting energy policy and power sector investments. Intense political oversight and interference is already taking place and much more is anti063


oxygen | 16 — 06.2012

cipated. Security and sustainability will have at least the same priority as efficiency in the regulatory design. Without trying to prejudge the future, it seems clear that some features will characterize the power sector during the next decades. First, we can anticipate a strong presence of renewable generation – intermittent and distributed to a large extent – in many power systems. Second, the availability of communication and control technologies, plus the current trends in regulation and consumer behavior, announce strong, future, active demand participation. In the absence of a technically and economically viable and widespread storage option, and with massive penetration of intermittent generation, the future role of demand response cannot be over-emphasized. Third, political developments, economic rationality and network reinforcements inexorably lead to an integration of existing power systems and markets into larger entities. Finally, in developing countries, it is expected that during this period universal access will be finally achieved, and electricity consumption will grow to reach minimum standards of quality of life. And now the questions are: Are the current electricity markets, the structure of the power sectors and the regulatory frameworks ready to satisfactorily meet the challenges for an efficient, secure and clean supply? In the context that can be anticipated of strong sustainability- and security-oriented policy measures, how to improve or redesign power system regulation to facilitate that these policies reach their objectives efficiently? How to make these policy measures compatible with the functioning of electricity markets? Let us consider markets first and the networks later. The advantages of markets are well known. They are successful if the structure of the industry is right and there are no interferences, although electricity markets are complex and may go wrong in many ways. But they have limitations. Markets may ignore sustainability concerns, such as the long-term availability of the present energy sources, energy dependence, diversification of fuels and suppliers or the need to support promising technologies that are suitable for long-term sustainability objectives. Why? Because current energy prices 064

fail to internalize these concerns. Most decision-makers consider that the resulting energy prices would not be politically acceptable, and a longterm regulatory commitment to these policies is lacking, partly because of the absence of an international consensus on how to proceed. Therefore, at the least, it is necessary to supply the energy sector in each country or region, and the electricity markets in particular, with the long-term vision that indicative planning and longterm strategic targets can provide. The name “indicative” planning is probably misleading, since it should be more than just a prospective analysis (find out what could happen) and rather have a normative character (identify what has to be done to make sure that a future with some desirable features happens). Indicative planning makes explicit the future energy alternatives and sets objectives for what has to be regulated. Many aspects of electricity markets could be regulated, although perhaps they should not: targets for penetration of renewable energies or other clean technologies, objectives for energy efficiency and savings, support schemes to improve the security of supply, goals for sectorial carbon emissions, and priorities and resources for research and development. Governments should be limited to providing any necessary regulation of energy markets to make the agreed long-term policies possible. Thus, markets and regulation should not be seen as opposite, but as complementary forces. Electricity networks pose a different set of questions. Is the present regulation of transmission adequate to support the anticipated large deployment of intermittent renewable generation? The challenges posed by the sheer size of the interconnected power systems and the anticipated large presence of intermittent generation will require careful consideration, and a possible overhaul, of the current transmission planning criteria, definition of the responsible institutions for interconnection-wide planning, cost allocation methods, business models for transmission developers and siting procedures. System operation also must undergo a major renovation. Contrary to transmission, distribution networks originally are not designed to accommodate generation.


the evolution of electricity markets and the new global outlook

Rural electrification has to be explicitly considered a key element of the energy policy in developing countries, with specific support instruments, financing and business models that are able to attract large volumes of private investment

However, their design, operation, control and regulation will have to be adapted to allow potential massive deployment of distributed generation (DG). Under passive network management, DG penetration generally results in additional costs of network investment and losses, an effect that increases with penetration levels. Therefore, distribution utilities in general will be biased against DG and may create barriers to its deployment. Most of the current regulatory mechanisms are focused on cost reduction and lack “natural� incentives for innovation. Solving the lack of access or insufficient access to electricity of a significant fraction of the world population is a key component of the future sustainable power system model. To this purpose, rural electrification has

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to be explicitly considered a key element of the energy policy in developing countries, with specific support instruments, financing and business models that are able to attract large volumes of private investment, since this is a formidable task in terms of volume and organization. New and emerging clean technologies will be crucial in attaining a sustainable power system model but their development and commercial deployment will need regulatory support. Since, for the most part, the market for clean electricity is policy driven, in this policy-driven market the regulation itself is a major risk factor. To unlock finance for the clean technologies, investment-grade regulation is necessary. This means a compelling vision, supported by a precise, clear and stable policy. 065


Co

contexts

The nationalization of electricity by Vanni Nisticò

The nationalization of electricity, in 1962, is the most important event of change in the economic history of the Italian Republic, destined, as it was, to break the strongest economic monopoly and, also, the most formidable power influencing national policy.

From the post-war reconstruction on, power companies were the stronghold of the country’s capitalist interests. An archaic style of capitalism, immune to the process of opening that was occurring in Italian society on both an economic level, in general, and the social level, in particular. Those were the years of the expansion of the production base, of the industrialization that was leaving the old Milan-Turin-Genoa triangle and investing in new areas, such as the North-East, the central regions, even venturing as far as the South. A process requiring, among other things, the availability of an increasing amount of energy with the conditions of an ensured supply and at a price that was not a highway robbery imposed by a cartel. The largest private power companies were barricaded in a small economy that no one had managed to touch in the previous decade, during which there had been attempts to challenge it: in fact, having extraordinary financial resources and the resulting instruments of persuasion at their disposal, they had always kept the “danger” at bay. The matter was re-opened – or better yet, it was addressed – during the third legislative term, with the government headed by Amintore Fanfani, one of the “thoroughbreds” of the Christian Democrat Party, when he viewed the issue of opening toward the Italian Socialist Party as an essential and necessary step toward broadening the base of Italian democracy, consolidating it with the decisive contribution of a leftist progressive force for reform. In a certain sense, for the meaning 066

which it acquired in general terms, the nationalization of electricity accompanied and marked the biggest political change ever enacted after the Constitution, and the end of the governments of the CLN (National Liberation Committee) which had arisen as a result of the Resistance. The reason behind this significantly political character of the nationalizing of electricity can be explained simply by recalling that the determining “condition” imposed by the PSI (Italian Socialist Party) to ensure parliamentary support outside the Fanfani government, formed in February 1962, was exactly that nationalization. It was an introductory element for starting a process of structural reforms of the Italian system, which was to take shape through “programming,” that is to say, government intervention to pilot the entire economic system that already had a mixed character, with the presence of state-owned enterprises alongside, in competition with, and in support of private enterprises. It should be noted that the state holdings had taken on the role of the driving force of the economy, with a distinction of the private sector marked by their exit from Confindustria, the confederation of Italian industry. In short, there were two parallel systems, where more than competitiveness, what counted was the certain and reassuring fact of the presence of public intervention, if necessary. The bill of law for the establishment of the National Board for Electricity, which would lead to the creation of Enel, was submitted on June 26, 1962 by the government headed by Fanfani, together with the


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The real father of the nationalization of electricity was Riccardo Lombardi, but Giorgio Napolitano also strongly supported it, even though he did not share the “chemical bubble” and the amount paid for the expropriation of the 1,270 companies in the electricity sector

Minister of Industry, a Christian Democrat, Emilio Colombo; the Budget Minister, Ugo la Malfa, a Republican; and the Treasury Minister, Tremelloni, a Social Democrat: all members of the previous centrist government, with the conspicuous absence of the Italian Liberal Party, hostile to nationalization. The presentation of the bill in question was not peaceful. Opposing forces were operating both within the signatory political parties, especially among the Christian Democrats, and in the economic-financial sector. Fierce attacks were carried out in the press controlled by the economic power, starting with “Il Sole 24 Ore” and “Il Globo,” and by the political right, the side which the electricity trust supported, led especially by Giorgio Valerio of the electricity company, Edison. The aim of nationalization was subjected to a real attack. The operation had begun earlier, under the auspices of a committee for the defense of stock and bond savings that, behind the smokescreen of wanting to defend the “small savers,” was actually the operational arm of the cartel of the large power companies. In May of 1962, and therefore before the presentation of the government bill, in a pamphlet entitled Nationalization – Myth and Reality, the committee had collected a series of actions by economists and prominent figures, all of whom were opposed to nationalization. The presentation of the collection declared, “It is known by now that nationalization interventions have obtained bad results, which have been identified in the bureaucratization of the service, the loss of financial autonomy and the creation of centers of power that are difficult for Parliament to control. The best response to the failure of these experiments of the public control of key sectors is that, for many years now, only a few minor dictators of underdeveloped countries have resorted to such, as a quick means to consolidate their power against their political opponents.” An audacious and disparaging judgment, if one takes into account the connotations and political history of the forces involved in the change that had always militated against dictatorships. There are no surprises when looking over the list of the actions compiled by the committee, whereas the importance of the names that do appear is striking. The publication opened with an essay by Luigi 068

Einaudi, published in the newspaper “Il Resto del Carlino” on April 4, 1962. “The structural reforms,” stated the former President of the Republic, “are mostly requested by those who want to go toward the left. […] managing public enterprises, just like private ones, with economic criteria that is agile, alien to the bureaucratic delays and tiresome controls by accountants and the court of auditors is folly.” It must be said here that subsequent events, not so much and not only those related to the management of Enel, but the universe of public companies in general, will eventually prove that the old liberal professor was right on more than one count. Another economist, then quite renowned, Caesar Turrone Bresciani, in the newspaper “Il Corriere della Sera” on April 8, 1962, saw government intervention to be an “expropriation of the shareholders” contrary to the principles of the Constitution. He denied clear evidence, the exploitation of a monopolistic situation by the electricity companies, as he absurdly argued that for some years, thanks to these companies, the consumption of electricity in the central and southern regions had increased more than in northern ones, forgetting that far more candles were lit than light bulbs in those regions. Great journalists of the time could not pass up the chance to beat their drums, such as Mario Missiroli, writing in the magazine “Epoca,” in April of 1962, who gave exaggerated lessons in industrial economy and finance. Starting from the premise that the demand for energy doubles every 10 years, Missiroli said that “electricity power plants are worth 3.5 trillion,” so that one had to wonder if the State were “in any condition to take on this financial burden, in addition to the one arising from the compensation for the expropriated plants.” Nor did the newspapers “La Stampa” and “Il Giornale d’Italia” want to be left out. The newspaper of Fiat, which remained at the window detachedly watching an event that did not concern it directly, added its voice to the chorus, stressing that “Western Europe has overcome the tendency of nationalization.” The Roman newspaper, having lost prestige with the end of the monarchy and siding with the right, incontrovertibly declared that “reality says no” to nationalization. Concerns were also expressed among the Christian


the nationalization of electricity

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1962 Enel was established by the Fanfani IV government, with a House of Representatives resolution, proposed by the Honorable Aldo Moro, passed on November 27, 1962, which later became law on December 6th of that same year. This law provided for the nationalization of companies and enterprises operating in the sector of the production, marketing, distribution, and transport of electricity, as well as all those operating in functionally and technically related sectors.

Democrats and not at all timidly, to the point that their official magazine, “La Discussione,” in its issue number 412 of November 12, 1961, highlighted “the difficulty, in some cases, the harmfulness of the use of public enterprises for certain economic purposes,” as evidenced by French and English experiences. The fear, vivid within the right-wing Christian Democrats, showed a contradiction in terms of overlooking the “seizure of power” that the party exercised in no uncertain terms on state-owned public enterprises, the undisputed stronghold of the Christian Democrats. This was the “climate” in which the process of the nationalization of electricity occurred. The companies came to the appointment well-armed; the previous year, 1961, moves had been made against the measure of the unification of electricity tariffs (adopted due to the initiative of the Socialist members of Parliament, Lombardi and Anderlini), which also introduced the “mandatory provision” of energy, and thus, for the first time eroded the despotic power of the companies on whom previously the decision of “connection” had solely depended. Alongside the campaign orchestrated with an unusual abundance of means by the electricity trust, a parallel action carried out by supporters of what was called the “collusive oligopoly” was

developing, aimed at eliminating the very idea of nationalization, replacing it with a plan addressed to maintaining the electric power companies as private firms, but opening up their shareholding to public participation. Supporting this proposal was the cartel of the underground agreement that the electricity companies IRI, SME (Southern Electric Company) and the SIP (Hydroelectric Company of Piedmont) had clenched with the private sector on the basis of “compensatory guarantees.” A leading figure and undisputed protagonist of nationalized electricity was the Socialist deputy, Riccardo Lombardi. In his speech to the Chamber of Deputies during the debate to approve the law on August 1, 1962, Lombardi stressed that the project “has not and will not have any punitive nature,” with its objective of a “rational use of a collective patrimony for collective goals.” The goal, he said, was “to have a potentiality able to guarantee the availability of energy, not with regard to the economic forecasts, but to the predictions of an application assessed as part of a conscious programming, ‘eliminating’ the negative influence of any of contractual and private limitations.” In the stance taken by the Socialists, a more general concept was shown and stated, that of “programming” intended as a policy for addres069


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sing the Italian economy in the perspective of its strengthening and its growth, which at the time was speeding along at record-breaking rates. That proposition was light years away from the authoritarian Soviet system of interventionism which it was compared to, however, by the right; the conservatives, who were then working within the government, ended up winning the game by distorting it until it was effectively annulled. The industrial and energy evolution was knocking at the door. In 1961, in the national energy sector, hydroelectric power accounted for 82% of the requirements; only 18% came from thermal energy produced, especially by industrial users, at twothirds of the cost compared to hydropower. The ratio was fated to rapidly turn upside-down, in terms of both quantity and cost. The exploitation of hydropower had reached a point close to saturation, while the power plants were largely obsolete and required enormous capital for renewal. As things were quickly heading toward thermal energy, the prospect of nuclear power arose, the costs of which were assessed to be rapidly decreasing. Economic competitiveness between thermal and nuclear power was expected over the next decade. As seen previously, the power companies were opposed to nationalization, entrenched behind the defense of “small savers.” These small savers, 070

Lombardi said in his parliamentary speech, were being used by “the big investors and speculators, just like the gangsters in American movies who use women and children to protect themselves.” During the parliamentary debate, policy positions emerged with clarity. The governing parties (DC, PRI, PSDI) supported the bill they had presented. The Socialist Party had made an effort to do so, having put it at the center of their political struggle. The Liberal Party, subject to the defense of companies, was opposed. In the Communist Party, after the initial manifestation of skepticism which had led the party of Togliatti to share only “the intention of the measure,” a substantial change in direction occurred: in their speeches, Aldo Natoli and Giorgio Napolitano, while “speaking with moderation,” – as Lombardi commented – conferred a positive judgment, showing an appreciation of the law. The bill was approved by a large majority of the Chamber of Deputies in its session on September 21st. With the subsequent vote of the Senate, and the promulgation in the Official Gazette of December 12th of that year, it became the law of the Republic (# 1643/1962). Its adoption led to a major political breakthrough, paving the road of access for the Socialist government of the Republic. A step backward that led to the consequences that would ensue for the nation’s finances and eco-


the nationalization of electricity

| oxygen

Napolitano saw the nationalization of electricity as a major reform of the productive apparatus of our country and understood the extent of renewal that would be achieved, even in terms of employment: quality work and prospects for new generations

nomy and, simultaneously, the clash between the protagonists of the preparatory phase. There were two issues, one relating to the disposition that had to be given to the electricity sector and then the outcome that awaited companies about to be dispossessed of their production plants. Firstly, it had to be decided whether or not to operate with a sort of “IRI-zation” or else through the establishment of a new independent body. The position of the “IRI” (Institute for Industrial Reconstruction), by nature conservative, sponsored by large sectors of Democrats and Republicans, was opposed to the establishment of a different and independent body, as suggested by the PSI. But the Socialists got their way; and Enel was founded. The second point concerned whether or not it was necessary to preserve the structure of the old companies and who the recipients of the substantial financial resources resulting from the nationalization should be. On the latter issue, Riccardo Lombardi harshly confronted the then Governor of the Bank of Italy, Guido Carli, who had played and, in subsequent years, maintained a decisive role in the Italian situation, exceeding on both an economical and political level. Lombardi was for the dismantling of the companies and the financial settlement of their shareholders. Carli opted for saving the electricity companies, arguing that only in that way would the massive

flow of capital resulting from the nationalization remain in the economic-financial system, producing new investments. Carli’s thesis prevailed and the 1,500 billion lire as credit toward the State went to fatten the balance sheets of the companies, all survivors. It turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory: that enormous wealth was then squandered in failed operations, killing the greatest opportunity Italian capitalism had ever received. What followed has been well illustrated in The Master Race, by Eugenio Scalfari and Giuseppe Turani, published in 1974 by Feltrinelli. “The nationalization,” Cappon notes, “had resulted in the emission of a huge amount of liquid capital into the hands of what was considered an entrepreneurial class. It was a historic occasion and I think that those who then fought to keep the former electric companies operating and have them be the recipients of compensations, rightly thought to have made a choice in favor of entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, we soon saw that among the former electricity groups, there was not a single entrepreneur; or that funds which had been entrusted to them dissipated in the wind through erroneous initiatives and did not produce any benefits for the Italian economy that were even remotely comparable, for example, to what had happened at the beginning of the century with the creation of the electricity industry by the nationalization of the railways.” 071


Id

in-depth

Defusing the Carbon Bomb by Danielle Fong

“In the past 20 years, electricity generation worldwide doubled. In the next 20 years, it will double again. If we build those plants the way we have been building them, and run them for the 50 years we expect them to last, we will nearly double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from when civilization emerged. […] We cannot assume that nature will just take care of this mess. We need something more than a faith-based strategy. We need to ask ourselves if we have the courage to turn the wheel.”

The power plants we are building now will define the biosphere of our planet for the next 5000 years. The math is straightforward, and stark. Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for a long, long time. It takes nearly 5000 years for limestone and rain to scrub the atmosphere of carbon down to plausibly manageable concentrations. It takes half a million years for igneous rock to scrub the atmosphere down to more temperate concentrations. A coal plant, built today, has an expected lifetime of 50 years or more. Every year, a 1 GW coal plant throws 8 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere – more than the mass of the Great Pyramid of Giza. It gets worse. There are roughly the equivalent of a thousand 1 GW coal plants in service today. Collectively, in a decade, they blast 80 billion tons (10 ppm) of CO2 into the atmosphere – approximately the 072

weight of every single living thing on Earth. Business as usual for coal plants would make more of a carbon impact that a firestorm burning every living thing on the plant. We cannot assume that nature will just take care of this mess. In the past 20 years, electricity generation worldwide doubled. In the next 20 years, it will double again. If we build those plants the way we have been building them, and run them for the 50 years we expect them to last, we will nearly double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from when, at 275 ppm, civilization emerged, to 500 ppm, and beyond. Some policy makers say that reaching 450 ppm would be stable for the Earth. Some scientists (350.org ) fear that 350 ppm – much less than the current 396 ppm – is necessary. But as our climate models are making clearer and clearer, blasting to 500 ppm and beyond is not safe territory.

We humans have covered 3% of the planet surface and engineered 90% of the biosphere, consuming a quarter of its output, disrupting three-quarters of the fertile land, growing and replicating until we, our livestock and our pets, collectively outweigh wild nature, land and air animals, by 50 to 1


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We need more than a faith-based strategy.  We need to ask ourselves, what does this mean for us? For the past many hundreds of millions of years, there have been three major Earth climates. There’s hot Earth – greenhouse Earth. Ice thaws and organic matter rots, releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and CO2. Oceans stratify, building hot, nutrient-poor layers of water atop the oceans, preventing oxygen from reaching the layers below. Ocean life dies off rapidly, and the focus of life escapes to land. Temperate regions become vast, arid landscapes, and fires and megastorms spread throughout the landmass.  There’s cold Earth – icehouse Earth. Glaciers blanket and mold the landscape, reflect the sun and cool the land. Life, crowded out of the land, finds its greatest vitality on the sea shelf. Oceans recede – land bridges emerge. Megafauna dot the  continents. In the colder periods, the imposing glaciers grow and domi074

nate; in the warmer periods, environmental niches for life open up, for upward new species, like mankind. We humans emerged in a warmer period of an icehouse Earth. We spilled out and filled the alluvial plains of every corner of this planet, built towns, roads and cities, covering 3% of the planet surface, and engineered the biosphere, consuming a quarter of its output, disrupting three-quarters of the fertile land, and 90% of the biosphere, growing and replicating until we, our livestock and our pets, collectively outweigh wild nature, land and air animals, by 50 to 1. Which brings us to now. This third era, the anthropocene – the manmade epoch, is without  precedent. We would have had another ice age, had humans not intervened. The atmospheric record and the climate track the technological and social development of civilization for more than a thousand years. We consume more energy than the tides and waves could ever supply – co-

Light Sail Energy The air is the cleanest and most economic means of energy storage in the world, and finding a technology that exploits it could be revolutionary. About 30 people – engineers and scientists, including Danielle Fong – are doing exactly that at Light Sail Energy, studying compressed air (lightsailenergy.com).


defusing the carbon bomb

opt more water than our aquifers can sustain, consume more of the food chain directly than any other species. We are a force of nature, rivaled, perhaps, only by the powers of the sun, wind, earth, ocean and time. Scientists fear that our climate is moving away from its zone of temperate stability, the nice, comfortable climate to which we have been adapted. Fish swim in the oceans. Tropical diseases are contained. Tropical agriculture is possible – megadroughts, ultrafloods and superfires are avoided. Business as usual is now heading toward greenhouse Earth. Unless we do something, and do something quickly, unless we face these problems, invent solutions, and scale them up faster, in an absolute sense, than any industry has ever scaled up before, then we will live in that greenhouse Earth. What will it really feel like? Maybe we will adapt. Life will survive; much of the planet’s history is of a greenhouse Earth. But one thing is for certain.

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We will not find comfort easily. Greenhouse Earth is for crocodiles.  Human beings must realize that we are now in the driver’s seat. We need to know where we are going, we need to talk about where we want to go, and we need to ask ourselves if we have the courage to turn the wheel.

There are roughly the equivalent of a thousand 1 GW coal plants in service today. Collectively, in a decade, they blast 80 billion tons (10 ppm) of CO2 into the atmosphere – approximately the weight of every single living thing on earth 075


In

interview with paul saffo

Technology, media, electricity: what future? by Nicola Nosengo

Oxygen asked Paul Saffo - a Stanford professor and one of the few credible futurists in circulation - to predict what technology will be crucial to the future economic and industrial development. Beginning with electrical and electronic technology, which in turn is the basis for the development of the media.

The qualification of “futurist” is no longer in fashion the way it once was. The pace at which we have become accustomed to scientific and technological developments in recent decades already makes it difficult enough to imagine what will happen in two or three years, let alone venture to make predictions about what the world will look like in half a century. Among the few who have the courage and credibility to do so is Paul Saffo, an American essayist and teacher who proudly boasts the title of futurist. Professor at Stanford University, a member of several research foundations, including the Long Now Foundation and the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, he writes regularly for “The Harvard Business Review,” “Fortune,” “Wired,” “The Los Angeles Times,” “Newsweek,” “The New York Times” and the “Washington Post.” From this observatory, he describes the 076

changes taking place in various areas of technology and has often demonstrated the ability to anticipate their direction. The discovery and control of electricity was perhaps, at the time, the innovation that changed the world the most in the last century and a half. Virtually everything else came from that. Now the whole system of production and distribution of electricity is being reinvented. Will this revolution be just as important? It is a great challenge, but it is inevitable that it will happen. If we look at the beginning of the history of electricity, going back to 100 years ago or more, we notice that, at first, it was used mainly for mechanical tasks. Electricity was needed to move machines which, in turn, often made other machines. It was the phase of “stupid” electrons. The next phase began in the Forties with the invention of

the transistor. That was when we started using electrons for intelligent purposes, i.e., the processing of information. From the amplification of the muscles to the amplification of the senses. With the subsequent evolution, computers started to amplify the human brain itself and this trend is still continuing. Now we are about to permanently transform the earlier “stupid” electrons into smart electrons. It would be interesting, and I don’t believe that anybody has done so, to draw a graph of how the ratio of stupid electrons (those used for mechanical purposes) and the smart ones (those for information processing) in circulation has changed over the past 50 years. With the so-called smart grids, we can see that all the electrons have become intelligent. Of course, the other great revolution will be in seeing how we manage to break the double bond between the production


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and distribution of energy. But let’s take it one step at a time. You have often written, even recently, that the electronic era is ending. What do you mean? Certainly not that computers are going to become extinct. The fact is that, more or less every thirty years, science discovers and explains some completely new phenomenon, which in turn is transformed into technology and changes everything. The latter has a certain growth curve, as long as its driving force is not exhausted. At the beginning of the last century, chemistry was at the center of attention and led to the Haber-Bosch process for nitrogen fixation, which allowed us to produce fertilizers and explosives, revolutionizing agriculture and, unfortunately, war. Then in the Thirties, it was physics’ turn, with the discoveries about the structure of the atom which, once again, led to the atomic bomb. In the Fifties, thanks to the encounter be078

tween physics and cybernetics, the era of electronics and computers began. Now the innovative drive of electronics is still there, but it is running out. Whereas we are only at the beginning of the biology era. Moreover, it is a fact that 50 years ago, to be a NASA engineer was the coolest thing you could imagine and in the Eighties, those who scored the most at parties were the computer science geniuses. To get a date with a girl today, it’s much better to say that you are a geneticist. It is important to note that every revolution is built on the previous ones, without canceling them. Genomics has been made possible by the technology developed in Silicon Valley, which has allowed for sequencing the genome very quickly. What stage of development is the Internet at today and how will its development continue? Sometimes it is hard to tell whether a technology is still in its infancy and or is already mature.

The Internet revolution is a bit at the point where the television was in the Fifties. The Internet is many things, which are at different levels of maturity, so it is difficult to say how mature it is on the whole. All the technologies have a development that follows a curve in the shape of an S. They begin to grow slowly, then there is a precipitous moment of growth, then a final phase in which the curve continues to rise but at a more sluggish rate. The S-curve of the Internet began in the Fifties with the birth of Arpanet, only to zoom up in the Eighties. Now it is still growing, but it is made up of many smaller curves. E-mail, for example, which in the Eighties was the part that grew the most, is perhaps about to be replaced by the social networks. With the constant evolution of the search engines, the domain name system could become less important: it is not really important that I possess “paulsaffo.com” if the search engines


technology, media, electricity: what future?

| oxygen

A true technological revolution that we aren’t paying enough attention to is that of 3D printing. It is transforming industrial production, leading it beyond the era of mass production. In twenty years’ time, this technology will have completely transformed the way in which we produce objects

are able to find me anyway. In short: some things that seemed important a few years ago will become less important and will be replaced by others, but overall the most rapid phase of growth of the Internet is ending. But will the Internet eventually devour all the other media? Will the convergence of the media, which analysts have talked about for many years, actually happen? I have never believed in the idea of this convergence. If it were true, AT&T and the movie studios would own everything. Instead, that’s not how it is; in fact, neither one is doing too well. At a technological level, there may be convergence in the sense that the same network infrastructure does many different things. But not in the way in which the media are used, on the final product. The new products and the consumer’s experiences tend to diverge and remain separate.

Are there innovations, perhaps less striking and less celebrated, which will be fundamental for the future? A true technological revolution that we aren’t paying enough attention to is that of 3D printing. It is transforming industrial production, leading it beyond the era of mass production. There are already military aircraft whose parts are made entirely with 3D printers, because this way the military avoids having to keep spare parts in stock, greatly reducing costs. There are parts that are made in this way now even on large airliners. There are already companies that produce commissioned pieces designed by the users – who just send a diagram made on their computer – in the number of exemplars desired. This means the end of the assembly line, which means that it is becoming cheaper to produce an object, even just a few in number, and not only if you sell millions of pieces. In twenty years’ time, this technology will have completely transformed the way in which we produce objects.

Let us close with a technology that, in the eyes of the general public, has not kept the promises it has made for decades: robotics. Is its time yet to come? Robotics is already a reality. They are the drones, unmanned aircraft that to all effects are autonomous robots, and which are now more important than fighter pilots. They will soon be authorized also for civil aviation, for surveillance or rescue operations. Then there are the cars that drive themselves, such as those that Google experimented with in California, where I live. They are already a reality, perhaps not ready to circulate on the roads, but they work perfectly in industrial sites where they can move following a few basic rules and without the risk of hurting anyone. Robotics is keeping its promises and will go much further; the problem is that people continue to have a mistaken image of the robot. They are not, and never will be, those humanoids to which we have been accustomed by science fiction. 079


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Vi

visions

Without light by Gianni Riotta

A look into the history of the dark, to reveal that in every age, in every form of art and religion, as well as in philosophy, for mankind, light was truth, clarity and well-being, and darkness was lies, uncertainty and poverty.

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Preferring darkness to light is the ultimate wrong, it means refusing to understand the truth: and, in his “Allegory of the Cave,” Plato imagines that the philosopher, seen in the light of the world and not reflected in subterranean shadows, tries to bring men back to the truth

The paintings of Georges de la Tour (1593-1652) and Michelangelo Merisi, called “Caravaggio” (1571-1610) are often juxtaposed in art history books for the intelligent use of light by the two maestros. A candle that illuminates the faces of family members intent on watching a child, a beam of light from a torch that illustrates an august martyred saint, or Christ who blesses the humble supper table at Emmaus. For centuries, they have fascinated those who look at them for their depth, warmth, details and feelings. For the people living in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the masterpieces by Caravaggio and de la Tour aroused a feeling that we modern people cannot manage to grasp, if not with the help of historical memory. Light at night was so very rare. Faint stars, a full moon, and in the far north, the northern lights: otherwise, darkness. Inside the homes of the wealthy few, yes, the rooms were illuminated, but 082

only on special occasions, otherwise a candle or a torch: just enough to give light to a table, a corner or a bed. It was pitch dark in the corridors, in the corners of large rooms; wherever that small flame could not shed any light, more darkness. At the end of the eighteenth century, the Castle of Fratta that the little boy Carlino remembers in The Confessions of an Italian by the great author Nievo, is, basically, a dark place. For the poor, sunset was the beginning of a darkness that would be interrupted only at dawn. Whenever they could see a painting, for the most part in churches, in which the household darkness had been cancelled – even if only by colors – they must have been deeply moved: so, it was possible that being condemned to night’s blindness was not permanent, and thus, light could obliterate the night. That is why, despite so many great artists, de la Tour and Caravaggio hypnotize us: for their exorcism of darkness.

A quick look at the Bible suffices to confirm that darkness seems to be a condemnation for us human beings; “Men took the darkness rather than light,” says the Gospel according to John: III, 19, in the verse that Giacomo Leopardi uses as an epigraph to the most philosophical of his poems, The Broom: “Καὶ ἠγάπησαν οἱ ἄνθρωποι μᾶλλον τὸ σκότος ἢ τὸ φῶς.” Preferring darkness to light is the ultimate wrong, it means refusing to understand the truth: in his “Allegory of the Cave,” Plato imagines that the philosopher, seen in the light of the world and not reflected in subterranean shadows, tries to bring men back to the truth. Prometheus gave fire to humanity and for this, was condemned, darkness must continue to be a life sentence. In Hades, the Hell of the Pagans, the suffering is the dark itself. To the heartening praise of Odysseus, “You are yet the King among the shadows,” a pained Achilles replies, “I’d rather be the lowest of servants, but yet in the light.”


without light

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Enea Report According to the 2010 Enea report on energy efficiency, Italy has a power consumption below the EU average: 2.4 toe/per capita against the 2.7 of the EU. In addition, the Action Plan for Energy Efficiency (EEAP) in 2010 led to a savings of 47,711 GWh/year, while the expected figure was 35,658 GWh/year. Encouraging data.

The words that open the Book of Genesis in the Bible are the strongest lead in the literature of all time: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the Abyss and the spirit of God hovered over the waters.” The notes of the edition of The Jerusalem Bible (EDB, 2009) explained, however, that “the story begins only in verse 2: verse 1 is just a title.” Which is to say that Genesis begins with “The earth was a formless void and darkness covered the abyss,” and that God would not create “ex nihilo,” out of nothing, but would at least have before him the Abyss, the Earth and the Darkness, because – states the Jerusalem Bible – “the light is a creation of God, darkness is not: it is negation.” If this interpretation is correct – alas I am no Bible scholar, but I feel it to be marvelous – then the Shadows, the Darkness, already covered the Abyss even before the Creation, overseen by the “Spirit of God”

who decides to break it forever by forming the Light, the first element of Creation. Of all the great material and species that the Creation will offer, the Light is, thus, the first: and it will always be the rational icon, vision and life strategy, even in the secular reasoning of the critical Enlightenment.

That is why, despite so many great artists, de la Tour and Caravaggio hypnotize us: for their exorcism of darkness Caravaggio and de la Tour bewitch us, just like the peasants who could just barely glimpse it in the paintings, because in their artistic creation they repeat the primordial gesture of God and bring light into our daily darkness.

If the world of darkness that came before us is by now considered to be far off and dispelled, take a look at the nighttime picture on the website http://ricochet. com/main-feed/A-Photo-of-Kim-Jong-Ils-Legacy. It is an aerial photo of the two Koreas, on Christmas Day, 2011. Dense lights cover the developed nation of South Korea and spread beyond the border with China. The area of North Korea, poor and oppressed by its dictatorship, is black, just as the entire planet must have appeared in the Middle Ages. The photo comes from the research by Brian Min, Professor at the University of Michigan, that links the dissemination of democratic institutions with the spreading of public goods, first and foremost, electricity. Lenin said that Communism was “Soviet plus electrification,” but North Korea, the last Communist realm without a market after the turn taken by China under Deng, is the darkest country on the planet. 083


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But, unfortunately, it is not alone. Even in 2011, the World Energy Outlook estimated that 1,317,000,000 human beings did not, in whole or in part, have access to electricity. 80.5% of the lucky ones are facing 19.5% who still dream of being able to light a lamp, a stove, an electric icebox, albeit primitive, or a camp stove. In cities, the percentage rises to 93.7%, but think of the lives of those who, while encamped in a megalopolis in Africa, Asia or Latin America, cannot turn on a switch to see, keep warm, cook or work. In the countryside, the data gets worse: 32% of the people live in total darkness at night. In Africa (2009 data), 587 million people remain in the dark after sunset, two million in North Africa and 585 million in sub-Saharan Africa. A fact that must not be forgotten, when we Europeans complain about the waves of migration as if they were a nuisance and not an epochal movement. In the African countryside, only one farmer out of four has access to electricity, but in the Sahara, the percentage falls to 14.2% (like in Europe generations ago) and 85% of the families are living, working and struggling in the dark. In China and Southeast Asia, 182 million people have no light; in the rest of Asia, 493 million; 31 mil084

lion in Latin America; and in the Middle East, 21 million people. In South Asia, 30% of the countryside is in darkness; and in booming Latin America, it is 40%. Here, in the fashion of attacking development and the GDP as if there were alternatives to growth for fighting poverty, Pier Paolo Pasolini recalls his nostalgia for the Friuli countryside, dark as to light but full of human warmth, and the “language of the children at night” (“lengas dai frus di sera”). Many speak of “decrease,” as if that which the crisis is inflicting on us were not enough, and imagine (some naively in good faith, some in cunning maneuvers) a rustic village straight out of Disney, with apple pies on the windowsill, mothers in aprons washing the dishes and whistling fathers wearing knotted handkerchiefs on their heads, reaping the corn or harvesting the grapes. It won’t be like that; Virgil imagined his Bucolics and Georgics but, romantic realist that he was, Tityrus playing his flute was accompanied by the plague of Noricum, which in a single season made life impossible for men, livestock and plants. The dark and impoverished world is not a happy world. Writing of my island, Sicily, in a diary between the 20th and 21st centuries, The things I’ve learned, I re-

Fiat Lux “Fiat Lux is the opening of our world and our history, and the pagan gift of Prometheus is the one most cherished by humans. Because lives without lights are lives without life.”


without light

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Of all the great material and species that the Creation will offer, the Light is, thus, the first: and it will always be the rational icon, vision and life strategy, even in the secular reasoning of the critical Enlightenment

membered the poor, in the cities and countryside, in the ‘50s. They were not strong and happy, they were miserable and emaciated. From their hovels, from the “catoi” (as this Greek word defined the basements of the city), they lived a life of need and submission from which escape was impossible. Everything had to be begged for: a used razor blade, a discarded jacket, used shoes. And the one resource available was a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling without a lampshade, like the one that Picasso places in his masterpiece Guernica, about the destruction of Spain. How could anyone be able to study, read, talk and work with just that one dim light source? Impossible. I remember the nights of the first post-war period in Baghdad after the U.S. invasion and the fall of Saddam Hussein. The country that is so rich in oil did not produce energy anymore; the ghetto of the capital, the largest Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, was without any light. Visible from the basements, the “catoi” of Mesopotamia, were the braziers, large copper trays filled with coals acting as half cook-stove and half floor lamp. The U.S. Army Rangers who took me on patrol with them, teenagers scared by snipers, in the end took pity on that perpetual

nighttime and, like their grandfathers did in Italy in 1944, they gave out chocolate and chewing gum to the children. The photographer and documentary filmmaker Peter DiCampo has created a project of unique images, Life Without Lights (lifewithoutlights.com): there are no scenes of joy because the past has come back and there finally is no longer any light. If the City Lights, Chaplin’s film that the Beat poet Ferlinghetti wanted as the symbol of his publishing housebookstore in San Francisco, were to go dark, there would be pain, not serenity. In the village filmed by DiCampo, there is no electricity, darkness is fought with every humble means: a small generator, car headlights, some flashlights and dripping candles. “Life without lights” tells of the cold, the humiliation, the slowing of time that the endless night imposes upon families, the elderly and young people. The darkness of poverty, where even the Spirit of God seems to get lost in the obscurity. That is why Fiat Lux, “let there be Light,” is the opening of our world and our history and the pagan gift of Prometheus is the one most cherished by mankind. Because lives without light are lives without life. 085


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interview with licia troisi

Insights of imagination by Luca Morena

Oxygen has experimented with a small exercise of the imagination in the form of questions and answers with Licia Troisi. The aim: the drafting of a toy world, a little toy world that is not only a sketch of a possible remote-control world where intuitions and aspirations can be put to the test, but also the vision of a futuristic world.

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Futuristic Past Opening photo, an image from a satirical Australian film from 1952, which envisaged the policy in 2000. On the left, the remote-controlled Mobot Mark II robot in 1964. On the right, a little boy in 1952 is preparing for an unlikely journey to Saturn and Uranus; a bride’s hat at the Boston Fashion Show of 1956, with antennas allowing the bride and her family to keep in contact during her honeymoon.

Energy networks that are self-organized and smart, talking objects, flying objects, mnemonic tables, arcane knowledge able to transfer all human knowledge into “clouds,” selfpropelled vehicles. It seems like the description of a fantasy scenario, but in reality, these are quite common or soon-to-be widespread technologies (in order: smart grids, smartphones, aircrafts, tablets, cloud computing and smart cars). One of the most famous and quoted insights of the science fiction writer William Gibson is “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.” So there are pieces of the future scattered around the planet, more or less announcing rosy scenarios for humanity. These are technologies in their infancy, experiments on a small scale of alternative social and economic models, and objects of innovative and revolutionary design. Have you ever found yourself facing objects, people and situations that made you think that these were clear anticipations in the present of the near future? Vice versa, what are the essen088

tial ingredients of the present that you believe to be indispensable in a futuristic world? I have been reading a book lately, Reinventing Discovery by Michael Nielsen, that is about how Internet can change the way science is done. Somehow, it seems to me, or maybe I am just hoping, that it is an anticipation of a future in which Internet is exploited to the utmost. As for today, more than anything else, I hope for the evolution of elements that are already present but not widely distributed or shared: the protection of human rights, the spreading of democracy and green technologies. What, if any, is the dominant element – in the sense of a material that is particularly important and contested, a particularly widespread social practice, a recurring aesthetic motif – in the future world that you imagine? Connectivity. I think we will be living in an increasingly interconnected world where everyone can, at least potentially, communicate with everyone else. Whether or not this will then increase or diminish our loneliness remains to be seen.

I would love cities where a new balance with nature can be found, in which technology allows for environmental sustainability. Moreover, technology already offers us this possibility but we are not exploiting it to the fullest


insights of imagination

A large part of fantasy tradition feeds off the imaginary – only seemingly “antimodern” – drawn from a generic medieval past, in which the natural and supernatural powers dominate mankind and not vice versa. Do you think that a sort of “narrative escape” from a future of unpredictable technological development and economic and ecological uncertainties may also represent a way of exercising the imagination of more sustainable and only seemingly less “modern” models of society? How do you imagine cities will be in the future? I don’t know if that is the main reason for reading – and writing – fantasy. Certainly, as far as I am concerned, the setting in a “technologically different” society has a certain weight; I have always missed the natural element, seeing as I was born and raised in the city. I would love cities where a new balance with nature can be found, in which technology allows for environmental sustainability. Moreover, technology already offers us this possibility but we are not exploiting it to the fullest. Turning on the light. What will such an ordinary gesture mean in the future?

Hopefully, it will be accompanied by a greater sense of responsibility: it is something we do very lightly, without thinking of what is behind the light that is illuminating our homes. The ability to imagine alternative scenarios and conceive of possibilities is at least as fundamental in science as it is in literature. Your background in astrophysics intrigues me, both for this continuity (in the difference in the context) with its exercise in imagination and for the contrast with the classically antiscientific narrative ingredients typical of the genre, such as the use of magic. How do you imagine energy in the future of humanity? Will we find the energy we need on other planets? And how do you experience the continuity and discontinuity between your narrative work and your scientific background? First of all, our behavior has to change. We have to rethink our relationship with the planet, becoming aware that its resources are not infinite and that we should make sparing and careful use of them. For the rest, my hope is that we aim more and more for renewable energy. However, I think that it doesn’t make

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much sense to look for other sources of energy around in space: it would only be perpetuating that very concept of development as robbery that is leading us to ruin. I do not perceive any discontinuity between my two kinds of work: each of us is defined by a multiplicity of interests and passions that are impossible to reduce to units. Moreover, I believe that all knowledge is one, and it is artificial to make a clear distinction between humanistic and scientific culture. I am a curious person, I like to try to understand what the world is all about and at the same time, create new ones. The theme of mutation has always characterized fantasy literature. What do you think will be the most significant changes that we as a species will face? Judging from discussions such as those on post-humanism and the integration of technology in the human body in order to increase mental and physical performance, we are not so far from scenarios that fantasy literature has explored far and wide... I find a hypothesis that I read in some science fiction book or article to be very attractive: the idea that evolution will slowly 089


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make our bodies less and less important, and we will evolve toward a state of pure energy, pure spirit, if you will. Concretely, I think technology will re-define the concept of the body, and it will be easier and easier to build “spare parts” for organs that don’t work anymore. Of course, this will pose many questions about what man is, and the boundary between man and machine, but I would say that science fiction has already started practice on the subject. An important aspect of epic fantasy is the strength of identity that the respective communities of fans are able to arouse and the ease with which these communities tend to build up around characters and authors. You have a blog with a large following, and I think we can say that the ability to create identity and community typical of fantasy, combined with the ease of aggregation and the sharing of the social media, are a mixture of enormous commercial and creative potential. Have you ever thought of experimenting with collaborative and participatory forms of writing with your readers? No, I perceive writing as solitary work. I seek solitude when I write, I’d rather not even have anyone in the room with me 090

I hope that an ordinary gesture like turning on the light will be accompanied by a greater sense of responsibility: it is something we do very lightly, without thinking of what is behind the light that is illuminating our homes


insights of imagination

Homes and transportation of the “future” On the left, tourists at Disneyland in 1958 visit the “house of the future” made of plastic, built by the Monsanto Chemical Company. On the right, a 1956 drawing of a plastic bus called the “Golden Dolphin,” driven by a gas turbine and represented by the artist in a version with 32 seats.

while I’m telling my stories. Since I am tyrannical with my characters and my worlds, I prefer to have complete control of the situation. But I really like it when the readers are inspired by my stories to nurture their own creativity: I like it that they make drawings, write fan fiction, and reproduce the weapons and items. In fact, I prefer to give the initial input and then let everyone, based on what I have recounted, expand the world and story to their liking. Fantasy is also a rich source of imaginary scenarios for video-gaming, just like it has been already for role-playing games. Do you think storytelling in the future will take place largely in immersive technologies and simulations? Will gaming, fantasy and reality be perfectly integrated and indistinguishable? No, I don’t think so. The great thing about books is that they require active participation by the reader, who has to imagine what has merely been written. So I think the word, written or spoken, will keep its power and charm unchanged. However, I think that from the perspective of the videogame, we are actually going toward a future where the game experience will be increasingly immersive and indistin-

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guishable from reality. Moreover, this is the dream of every gamer, or at least, mine. Finally, how does your creative process work? The impression is that, unlike other narrative genres, fantasy aspires to create entire worlds, often in lengthy and “monumental” narratives that are infinitely more complex than the one which we have just been experiencing ourselves. This implies a certain degree of being systematic and continuously monitoring the consistency of the stories, characters and their fates. How do you organize your personal creative navigation of such long and complex narrative architectures? Yes, that’s exactly it and that’s the reason why fantasy generally develops as a saga. The created worlds simply “won’t fit” in the space of a single volume. I try to keep the thread foremost with the help of my editors, who come to my aid when my memory fails me, and also by making many outlines right from the outset when constructing the world and planning the plot. In addition, when I write, I always have the previous chapters of the saga in the electronic version at hand, in order to easily search for that particular detail I can’t remember or some episode I am not sure of. 091


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scenarios

Energy 3.0 by Simone Arcagni

Energy moves and it moves the society of Italy, its history and its economy. First, the driver of the economic boom and consumer society and then, the lymph of the post-industrial economy, now energy is experiencing a new challenge: to become innovative in order to solve the problems and needs of a future that, even though it seems a bit utopian, should not be long in coming.

In the Sixties, the economic boom was in full swing and Italy officially joined the ranks of industrialized countries. In the streets, in homes, bars and offices, electricity erupted with a force never before seen in our country: electric lights, appliances, a television in almost every house, the car and the Vespa motorcycle are all symbols of a new status and new consumption. The cities fill up while the countryside empties out; for the generations of those years – albeit with considerable difficulty and trauma (for example, the phenomenon of migration, both internal and abroad) – the years of war and the terrible post-war years are a thing of the past. Appliances are perhaps the clearest symbol of wealth and a new society: Italian housewives are presented with refrigerators and gas stoves, young people with record players, and living rooms are arranged around the television set. Electricity allows for the push toward a freedom that can be found in consumption. It is not just a positive history; shadows and light play upon this epochal change in the country, but the obvious sign is the transformation 092

in the direction of industry and consumption. And electrical power is the engine and the basis of this mutation.

“Smart” and collective intelligence are the utopia of a better future: a soul that needs ideas and energy to function. And so the other utopia to aspire will have to be new, clean, sustainable and effective energy Over the course of these last fifty years, something else has been going on: in line with other industrialized nations, a new change has been modifying Italian society, transforming the country’s economy from an industrial one to a tertiary one of services and media. Electricity is crucial in the race for consumption, and publicity and information mark the change: television (first) and the

new media (afterward) are the means by which advertising, information and entertainment “colonize” our society. Italy sells its brands throughout the world during the Eighties, the years when the so-called “Milano da bere” (“Milan to drink”) is the capital of the economy, trade and media. “Made in Italy” means fashion, advertising, design and television. High quality and services for communication and information. In this decade, there is a shift from home appliances to the television, that moves from the living room into the kitchen, the master bedroom and the children’s bedrooms. There are more and more channels and television viewing is facilitated first, by the remote control and then, by recording devices such as VHS and DVD players. And alongside this phenomenon, another screen appears in homes and offices: the screen of the computer, that giant and slow electronic calculator, good only for movies and sci-fi series, has become a common object. With the computer and Internet 2.0, digital technology comes into our lives


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and not only changes our habits, but also our culture, projecting us decisively into a post-industrial economy made up of services for communication and information. The computer, Internet and cellular phones propel our society into the era of advanced communications and information. Electricity is no longer just the lifeblood for the operation of heavy appliances; it has become the ethereal thread holding people’s communication together. Communication that is becoming easier and easier, faster and more personal. The shift from hardware to software is not only a technological issue, but also a way of thinking, acting and informing. From a “hard” society of heavy appliances to a “soft” one of the dematerialization of the device. Now, in 2012, we are about to enter into another phase of hyper-communication, where we will go from a few billion connections to perhaps hundreds of billions of them, according to data from the EU. The Internet is also changing: from Internet 2.0 to Internet 3.0, where every 094

apparatus, appliance and device turns into a computer able to communicate with the users and other devices. This is the “Internet of things” (the University of Tokyo is the most important research center, but there is also an observatory at the Polytechnic Institute of Milan). A revolution made up of chips and sensors, and thus, by the computer that, no matter how small and portable, moves into another phase of dematerialization. Mobile phones have become veritable pocket computers that can be connected and provide features that were previously only the prerogative of other devices: a smartphone is a phone, a television, a computer, a camera, a camcorder and much more. A continuous evolution that the interrelation between science, technology and industry offers to citizens who have become the users. All the big players in the IT world are working in that direction, to open doors in the near future which will lead us to wearable computing, for example: computers that can be worn as if they were extensions

of our bodies, after passing through the clouding, or the “cloud” of data out of the hardware which is always available to the user. A future that is vaguely sci-fi, in which the holographic image will make the screens of our devices obsolete. In fifty years, the use of energy has changed but energy itself will probably change, too. So a new panorama stands before us, and above all, a panorama that is changing with increasingly dizzying speed. Looking at the past 50 years and trying to predict the next 10 on the basis of the processes undertaken, visions arise of a world of dynamic, and even invasive, energy still with some unknowns and problems to solve: the problem of copyright, and thus, data management concerning the copyright, which is the basis of the possible expansion of Internet; that of a single standard for the technology that will enable the real synchronization of the connected world; that of the emerging countries and the questions they pose: to what extent will their eventual entry into the


energy 3.0

| oxygen

In fifty years, the use of energy has changed, but energy itself will probably change, too. So a new panorama stands before us, and above all, a panorama that is changing with increasingly dizzying speed

global market affect us? And how much will they bring to the original model of communications that the West has defined? And finally, there is the problem of supply sources; the main challenge seems to be precisely this: new energy for a changed energy requirement, for a society that is once again changing and at an increasingly accelerated rate. A challenge to the sources and supply of energy, but also to its use. A challenge that seems to be envisaged as the creation of a mix of energy and different, diversified sources. Photovoltaic, wind and other forms of renewable energy are all called upon to participate in the construction of an innovative energy system. But the citizen is also being called upon to use energy more wisely and to know how to choose, to think and participate. The turning point seems to be going in the direction of consumption, favoring models that challenge wastage and allow for the storage of energy and environments with zero dispersion. Therefore, constructing in an intelligent

manner (smart is the watchword of these years), making buildings, districts, neighborhoods and cities independent, creating a capillary diffusion of energy based on the model of the Internet. A comprehensive system that brings together designers and large businesses, both public and private, local and global. The Smart City projects show the way to smart consumption and differentiated supplies, while paying particular attention to the problem of pollution. Our behavior and our habits have become fundamental, as are the plans that accompany them and help them, and therefore, Europe has increasingly come to be the motor capable of propelling and the network that is able to give rise to the best results and to share them. For example, the “Smart Cities & Communities” project, which aims to create a European pact of sustainability, creating a network of “intelligent” cities. In Italy, Milan, Bari, Turin, Genoa and Sardinia have already made moves concerning contract bids for an

intelligent energy management system. A new model of energy use is apparent from these bids. A structural model that covers several aspects: construction, for example, for making processes of heating and cooling efficient and intelligent; photovoltaic energy; the use of materials that prevent dispersion and thus, energy efficiency with studies regarding its storage. And in addition: the mapping of the networks, to make them efficient and also make the data available to citizens to increase their participation in the entire energy cycle, thereby forming a responsible, democratic citizenry. “Smart” and collective intelligence means the utopia of a better future: the “Internet of things” can become the true soul of the planet, a collective and participatory intelligence putting things and people into contact and in communication; a soul that, once again, needs ideas and energy to function. And so the other utopia to aspire to concerns that of the energy to sustain it, which will have to be new, clean, sustainable and effective. 095


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contexts

Italian energy for international design by Gilda Bojardi

Throughout history, design has accompanied the spreading use of electricity and electronic objects that populate our homes. From hydroelectric plants to household appliances, from pylons to laptop computers, up to the involvement today in energy savings.

Looking over the fifty years of history of Italian energy, alongside the events of the development of a large company like Enel, it has meant necessarily relating the modality and distribution of electricity in our country to its economic and social development, as well as to the changes in the behavior of Italians at home, in the office and at the workplace. This means understanding the link that electricity has and has had with everyday life and with the objects that surround us, the “necessary tools” we use in many aspects of our daily lives: from the commitments of work to the intervals of leisure time, from the private moments dedicated to care of the body to those for relaxation. It is clear that almost all the deeds done in a day, restricted by the use of objects and equipment, are related to the world of design and, consequently, to the energy that can “activate” them, making them operational and useable, complementary “tools” of our daily life. But before involving our private lives and the world of objects, the production of electricity directly affects the landscape around us, the cities and architecture. Just think of the period of the development of the hydroelectric plants in the first half of the twentieth century, designed as representative and figurativelycharacterized architecture – a good example of reference consists of those in northern Italy designed by the Milanese architect Piero Portaluppi – up to the modern, functional and educational buildings such as the projects for Enel curated by Michele De Lucchi with different solutions of composition, 096

related to different contexts and functionality. Another “environmental sign” distributed throughout the country, from the North to the South and including the islands, is composed of the almost infinite number of electricity pylons, lined up as far as the eye can see. Also in this case, the culture of the design and project was broadly expressed at the International Competition, “Supports for the environment,” held in 1999 by Enel with the aim of designing supports for the aerial lines conveying highvoltage electricity to be installed in rural and urban areas that would have a more harmonious interaction with the Italian landscape.

The link between the design plan and the class of energy efficiency is also growing with regard to any electronic device that has left the household world to enter the office and the workplace A significant experience that, even though there was no concrete development of a “system,” had the merit of drawing international attention to an artifact commonly seen only for its “functionality” and which instead, in this way, became an opportunity to contribute to the quality of the built-up landscape. The results of the competition, won by Norman Foster and which involved designers such as Aldo Aymonino, Achille Castiglioni, Michele De Lucchi, Giorgetto Giugiaro,


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Corrado Terzi and Michel Wilmotte, still appear very relevant today, more than a decade later. However, to better understand the relationship between electricity and design, the scene of reference is the household landscape - and more specifically, the world of interiors - to comprehend the changes of the use and related interactions between form and performance, and between aesthetics and sustainable design, which has developed in fifty years of history, and not only in Italy. Among all the everyday objects that have marked and characterized the evolution of household scenarios, appliances have played a primary role. Having entered into the homes of Italians in the Fifties as status symbols, the expression of a rising bourgeoisie, “desirable objects” for ordinary citizens with few resources after a dramatic war, the appliance, and now by extension, the TV and hi-fi, have become essential players in our lives. Appliances have also had to deal with the aesthetics of consumption, where in addition to the features and technological innovations, the degree of emotion and seduction that the object is able to produce contribute to 098

the success of a product in terms of its communicability. The case of home appliances, however, adds important specifics that link the value of the shape and the design to high technology, comfort and safety and, increasingly, to the service offered, meaning above all “energy consumption.” This is how energy becomes part of the design plan, taking on a primary role in the showroom and in the retail spaces: alongside the formal solution and technical specifications of the tasks carried out by the appliance and all the various household “robots,” they are labeled showing the energy efficiency classes according to the regulation EN 153 of May 1990, Directive 94/2/EC. These are criteria that allow consumers – on the basis of similar data from different manufacturers – to immediately assess the energy consumption on a scale ranging from “A” (the most efficient) to “G” (the least efficient); this is the performance scale that is also used today in the housing market. Considering their obsolescence as one of the factors responsible for environmental pollution, the “home machines” implemented a first moment of energy saving as a more durable


italian energy for international design

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Before involving our private lives and the world of objects, the production of electricity directly affects the landscape around us, the cities and architecture

Design that illuminates Arco, Taccia, and Parentesi – famous lamps by Achille Castiglioni – that bring light from above, forming a gentle arc, or from below, by reflecting it onto a screen of sheet metal, attached to a steel cable strung between the ceiling and the floor. Lightweight but firmly anchored lamps that have been shedding light since the Sixties.

product over time, to then move toward more ethical behavior aimed at achieving greater environmental responsibility. We can state that the very category of “electronic machines” for the home, in relation to their use and energy consumption, has developed the figure of the green consumer. This is a new kind of consumer, emerging by now in countries with advanced economies, who evaluates the product with an eye toward “fair and informed” buying, and in addition to the formal and emotional values of the object, extends the selection criteria to the technological aspects, but viewed in close relation to environmental issues and in relation to values of an immaterial sort, such as the fact that the object takes on the role of catalyst of information and innovative and advanced content from a cultural point of view. A criterion, one that links the design plan to the class of energy efficiency, even if essential now for the appliance market, that is also growing with regard to any electronic device, along with television and hi-fi sets, that has left the household world to enter into the office and the workplace in general. From the electric typewriter to

the computer on every desk, from the regular office to the “nomadic” one (which all of us can make happen with a laptop computer), a scenario has been set up that links design and energy in a synergistic and parallel way. Without a doubt, electronic objects have changed the Italian way of life and leisure; and the electricity in our country today that supplies the international design objects produced in Italy has found a happy and creative playground, as well as a flexible and advanced manufacturing system that allows experimentation unthinkable elsewhere. But besides the classes of efficiency, technological innovation and performance offerings, the playful and emotional aspects of the electronic object remain. In this regard, Umberto Eco wrote: “The postmodern forms are possible not because they are opposed to modern design, nor because they are subject to an inferior idea of design, but because ‘good’ design, in which the form follows and communicates the function, is dead. […] Even though I am an apocalyptic cynic, as I write, on the radio there’s Mazinga playing Beethoven, which I really like.” 099


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The Internet of things: when it’s the smartphone that controls the house by Luca Salvioli illustrations by Seltz

The term “home automation” is not yet known universally and technology still frightens some consumers. But we are closer than you would think to having a smart home, one that is safer, more comfortable and more energy-efficient. All controlled by our smartphones.

Now that the software for managing our days is contained in an object that we pull out of our pockets dozens of times a day, and only sometimes to call or answer the phone, our life has changed forever and opened up to a world of new applications. For some time now, experts have been speaking of the Internet of things, referring to the pervasiveness of Internet that will soon envelop objects of every kind, connecting them in a “cloud” that is ready to dialog with hundreds of other objects. The remote control once used to change TV channels can now be the control panel of our home. It can control the temperature of the various rooms, turn on appliances, receive warnings concerning possible intrusions and remember the expiration date of items in the fridge. Even at a distance. The technologies that enable controlling the building now assume importance because of their ability to interact and be managed via Internet. Today, the remote control can be a smartphone or a tablet. It is not just a matter of sending signals, but also of receiving the result of the silent work that digital technology does in different areas of the building, with the

promise of increasing our productivity, reducing wastage and increasing safety. Provided that all of this is kept simple for the individual. “We created some focus groups which have demonstrated that technology in and of itself still scares consumers. The aspect of control, the ‘Big Brother syndrome,’ prevails,” explains Angela Tumino, research director of the Internet of Things Observatory at the Polytechnic University of Milan. “The response completely changes when shifted onto services. The proximity to the needs makes it familiar.” This is the great lesson of Apple, which has built its extraordinary success in recent years on the manufacture of products with a very simple interface that introduces the user to a myriad of applications. The technology is there but it doesn’t show. Home automation, on the product front, is already a reality. Less so concerning the applications and, especially, the standards enabling objects to communicate with one another. What services are already widespread? “Among the traditional solutions, there are car alarms, in some cases managed by the mobile phone. These range from

Italy is still at the forefront of energy saving. This is a great opportunity for Italian companies working on products regarding the house to share research on the integration of home systems and the reduction of energy consumption

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oxygen | 16 — 06.2012

microsoft homE of thE futurE not just a hi-tech living room, but a place where the microsoft philosophy has free rein: putting people, not the device, at the center of the technological experience. a biometric pad that recognizes the owner’s hand, sensors that remind one of their plants’ needs, and intercoms connected to the smartphone are just some of the features of the house of the future recently presented by microsoft.

the text message alerting the user that an intrusion is in progress to applications linked with a camera that shows what is happening at home in real time,” continues Angela Tumino. The Polytechnic’s research, which was published a few weeks ago, devotes an entire chapter to the home applications of the Internet of things. Still speaking of the present, it is possible to switch hot water boilers on and off by remote control, a function requested specifically for second houses. “Then there is the management of different lighting scenarios, still not very widespread actually, and services for the elderly and the disabled, helping them to try to live as independently as possible. Energy management, meaning the solutions which monitor the loads so as to reduce fuel consumption, is a particularly relevant chapter. The applications range from homes to industrial buildings. Intesa San Paolo Bank has achieved a more than 3% reduction of the electricity consumption in its main branches through precise monitoring of the energy use. Among the 140 applications identified 102

in Italy and abroad that have started up in the last five years, one out of three is aimed at managing energy resources. Italy holds a record in this field. At the end of 2011, almost all electricity meters installed in Italy were “smart,” so that the most widespread network of con-

the technologies that enable controlling the building now assume importance because of their ability to interact and be managed via internet nected objects in our country is certainly that of electricity meters, with over 34 million units installed. Smart meters are the first step toward smart grids, which will ensure the proper billing of consumption with a greater transparency for the consumer, the introduction of energy saving policies through new pricing schemes, the reduction of

operating costs and greater efficiency in the distribution system. At the European level, a communication standard that applies to all is being established. Meanwhile, the research continues. The consortium Energy@home is a home automation platform that Enel, Electrolux, Indesit and Telecom Italia have been working on for two years. The objective is the development of the smart home able to self-regulate its electricity consumption by staggering the starting of electrical appliances in the evening hours and coordinating them with the possibility of managing them with the smartphone, even remotely. And then there is lighting, burglar alarms and microwave ovens. 2012 is a decisive year: the laboratory will be left in order to conduct the first field trials. Each connected product has its own internal microprocessor and chip that can communicate with others through the ZigBee standard of the wi-fi family. The estimated savings are between 10 and 30% of consumption. Another Italian project is Home Lab, set up by Indesit, Ariston Thermo, Gruppo


the internet of things: when it’s the smartphone that controls the house

| oxygen

The objective is to develop the smart home, able to self-regulate its electricity consumption by staggering the starting of the electrical appliances in the evening hours and coordinating them with the possibility of managing them with the smartphone

Elica, Loccioni, MR&D Institute, Spes, Teuco-Guzzini and the Polytechnic University of the Marche. The consortium wants to set the standard for communication and inter-operability between products and services within the home and proposes itself as the “technology enabler” for Italian companies by providing a network of companies, research centers, technology and facilities. Andrea Merloni, President of Indesit and of the Home Lab consortium, during the inauguration of the project last April in Fabriano, in the Marche, in fact, pointed out that “Italy is still at the forefront of energy savings. This is a great opportunity for Italian companies working on products regarding the house to share research on the integration of home systems and the reduction of energy consumption.” Abroad, there are already some pilot projects of that nature, and they will take shape here in Italy in the coming months. An example is the pilot project launched six months ago by General Electric and the Louisville Gas&Electric Company in the United States, using

smart appliances that regulate their operation on the basis of the price dynamic of energy. “Smart appliances is an area to be explored, one of the next frontiers of home automation,” states Angela Tumino. “You connect to the smart grid and take the price of the energy at that precise moment. Thus, it acts in a dynamic manner and allows for managing the washing cycles in such a way that they do not exceed a certain threshold of consumption, and so on.” Instead, in the industrial sector the development of integrated technology in the environment is linked to safety: cross-checking the data on the presence of people with data concerning potentially hazardous areas (a gas leak, fire hazard, etc.) Smart appliances are coming onto the market. In Las Vegas in January, at the CES, the largest consumer electronics fair in the world, LG and Samsung introduced a wide range of household items connected to the Internet: washing machines, air conditioners, refrigerators with functions that can be controlled by the TV remote control or

by your smartphone. The LG refrigerator notifies you via its LCD panel or by mobile phone, reminding you when some food item is about to expire (a “reader” sees the date once it is placed in the freezer). In addition, there can be recipes, tips on consumption optimization, and so on. Easydom, Microsoft and Samsung, instead, have created a digital home project that manages the appliances and lighting, as well as music, videogame consoles and regulation of the blinds. Everything you can think of doing inside the house can be handled by the smartphone with the Windows Mobile operating system. The specific software introducing the house of the future is called Next. Home automation systems controlled by Next have already been installed in some demonstration apartments of the Eurosky Tower project in Rome, the tallest skyscraper in the Italian capital. The door opens with the key, the lights are turned on and off by scrolling up and down on the smartphone. And thus, we are entering the last frontier of the digital revolution. 103


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data visualization

2015 Objective edited by Oxygen

According to a recent study carried out by IHS Automotive Supplier Business, by 2015 there will be between 700,000 and one million electric vehicles in circulation. This will be the business sector of vehicles in the coming years for 45 car manufacturers, with over 75 models of electric cars. Instead, according to another study (Plugin electric vehicles) carried out by Pike Research, electric cars and light electric vehicles will increase at a sustained annual rate until reaching the significant quota of three million vehicles by 2015. In any case, the various estimates are simply confirming the trend of the sector toward sustainable and electric mobility. The boom in electric vehicles will see a face-off in the various Western and Chinese markets because, in recent years and in this sector too, China has dictated the law for green technologies and investments in the green economy; something that Western markets, instead, have not heeded with the same shrewdness. As for Italy, estimates say that if between now and 2020, one out of every five new cars were electric, the country would have a fleet of about 10% of its cars with no emission of greenhouse gases or smog, resulting in a savings of over 5 billion gallons of gasoline (the annual consumption today is around 13 billion liters). Moreover, if the new fleet of electric cars were powered by renewable energy, Italy would cut down the emission of greenhouse gases by almost 6 million tons (1.1% of the national total). 104


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different models of electric cars on the market in 2015, produced by 45 different auto manufacturers.

20.000 LEAF cars

sold in one year in three different continents by Nissan. The LEAF is the world’s most popular electric car (coming on the market in Italy in April 2012).

252 km/h

is the speed reached on March 17th – on Lake Ukonjärvi in Inari, Lapland - by the Metropolia E-RA, the electric GT made by the University of Helsinki: it is the world’s fastest electric car on ice.

In the round mark —

will be in circulation by 2015, according to a study by IHS Automotive Supplier Business. According to Pike Research, there will be as many as three million of them.

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SMART Electric cars in Milan, Bologna, Pisa and Rome: used by the electric transportation pioneers who have signed a four-year contract of 400 euros per month plus VAT as part of a project, also supported by Enel.

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contexts

The green shock to the automotive industry by Roberto Rizzo photos by white

After much talk, there are several models of purely electric cars now coming onto the market; a technology that, thanks to the experiments underway also in Italy, has proven to be widely reliable and fully ensures road safety. In order to increase the competitiveness of the electric car, it will be necessary to reduce the cost of the batteries, expected to be halved by the end of the decade, and to build an adequate system of fast charging stations.

If in Florence, starting in 2016, nonresidents will be allowed to drive only behind the wheel of an electric car, in Milan, these vehicles have already been exempted from paying the entry ticket into the city center, and since last October, car sharing has become available in Paris with 250 electric cars made by the French group Bollore, designed by Pininfarina (the number will increase to 1,740 by June). Never before as in these last few years has the electric car generated such strong interest in the general public, policy-makers and major manufacturers: from Renault-Nissan to PSA Peugeot-Citroen, from Toyota (the first Prius plugin hybrid is about to be launched on the market) to Smart-Daimler (Enel and Mercedes have promoted the e-mobility project in various Italian cities, with over 100 Smart ForTwo Electric Drive cars and 400 charging stations). Not to mention the electric Fiat 500, whose production in series for the U.S. market will start in 2012 at the Chrysler plants in America. The great advantage of the electric car is that it also permits mobility using clean energy such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power: in this case, there are practically no emissions per kilometer 106

traveled. But according to the data of CIVES (Italian Commission for Electric Road Vehicles), even charging the batteries with the Italian electricity mix consisting of more than 80% from low carbon sources (gas and renewable sources), the emissions would be about 80 grams of CO2 per kilometer. Therefore, these emissions are lower than those of the Prius hybrid (about 90 gr. CO2/km). Even using the energy produced by the most polluting coal plants in Eastern Europe, the emissions would still be quite limited, amounting to around 110 grams per kilometer. Just to make a comparison, in the 2010 ranking of cars sold in Europe, the most virtuous car-makers were Fiat, Toyota and PSA Peugeot-Citroen, with an average of 126, 130 and 131 grams of CO2 per kilometer, respectively. What we have just described is not the only advantage of the electric car. These are, in fact, vehicles whose mechanisms are simplified compared to traditional ones: electric cars are fitted with fewer moving mechanical parts, which is why the vehicle is quieter, easier to drive (the transmission takes place at a fixed ratio and the cars are single speed) and the maintenance is less complex.

The battery of an electric car costs at least 7,0008,000 euros; if we add the lack of economies of scale, this explains why electric cars cost an average of two or three times more than the corresponding ones with internal combustion motors


BATTERIES —

Electric cars on the market today typically mount batteries ranging between 15 and 35 kWh

Batteries and charging systems

The recent rediscovery of the electric car has stemmed, on the one hand, from the urgency of finding alternatives to oil and polluting sources whose proven reserves, according to the BP Statistical Report 2011, will suffice for only forty more years if the present rate of consumption continues. On the other hand, the electric car has had a great boost from the development of lithiumion batteries, introduced on the market by Sony in the early Nineties and which have now become the standard for portable applications, such as mobile phones and laptop computers. Much more efficient than nickel-metal hydride and lead-acid batteries, the lithium-ion batteries do not suffer from memory effect (they do not lose capacity if charged when not fully discharged), and lithium is an element that is reasonably available on the Earth’s surface. According to a recent study at Yale University, the world’s reserves of this metal are estimated at around 39 million tons (19 of which can be safely removed: the countries where more than half of the lithium reserves can be found are Bolivia, Chile and the United States),

whereas by the end of the century, even assuming a large development of electric mobility, the overall demand for lithium should not exceed 20 million tons. So, there is a lack of one million tons, but the hypotheses by the American scientists are very conservative and, in all probability, the largest deposits will show higher exploitation levels than those estimated previously. So, isn’t everything all right? Unfortunately not: there are still some obstacles in the path of lithium-based mobility. Costs and charging stations

First and foremost, there is the cost of these batteries, which is about 450-500 euros per kWh. Electric cars on the market today typically mount batteries ranging between 15 and 35 kWh, which means that the battery alone costs at least 7,000-8,000 euros. If we add the lack of economies of scale, this explains why electric cars cost an average of two or three times more than the corresponding internal combustion ones (just think of the Peugeot iOn four-seater model that costs about 30,400 euros “keys-inhand,” while the Smart ForTwo Electric Drive for two people costs 19,900 euros

excluding VAT). The price that is initially higher, however, is compensated by the cost per kilometer: thanks to a more efficient motor, traveling a mile with an electric car on average costs five times less than with an equivalent, internal combustion car. The competitiveness of the electric car is bound to improve soon, since the goal of manufacturers is to halve the cost and weight of batteries by the end of the decade. This equals an autonomy which today is between 100 and 160 km, distances well above what is covered by cars in Italian cities in one day on average, which is less than 40 km. The charging time problem now also seems to be resolved. Fully charging a battery of medium size (20-30 kW) at 220 volts (the voltage of a typical household) takes 6-8 hours, but the stations/columns can be made to recharge with the power of industrial applications, i.e., up to 380 volts in three-phase mode. In this case, charging 30 kWh takes about one hour. There remains a second obstacle: the lack of a suitable network of charging stations to support a market that, hopefully, is bound to grow very rapidly; out of a total of about 100 million new 107


oxygen | 16 — 06.2012

I move electric

Today, scientific research is geared mainly toward optimizing the recharge time and guaranteeing the autonomy of the lithium-ion batteries, but further research is underway to test new types of electrolytes

vehicles in 2020, Bosch estimates that about three million will be electric and plug-in hybrids. “A column for charging electric cars costs around 5,000 euros, therefore much less than traditional gasoline pumps,” explains Pietro Menga, president of CIVES, “and experiments that have been carried out in several Italian cities have shown so far that the technology is reliable. We are also collecting information on user behavior. In the early stages of testing, the uncertainty stemming from the fear of running out of energy drove users to charge their car almost every day, but later, after having verified what the actual performance was, the car would be charged less often, until reaching an average of once a week. We can conclude from this that a network of charging stations is not a prerequisite for the emergence of a strong market for the electric car.” For those who do not have easy access 108

Enel’s electrical mobility continues to make progress. The number of columns is increasing; in Emilia Romagna identical software has been installed in all the charging points and a supply pass connected to the contract of sale has been created. And if you are out of your own area, a free app (Enel Drive) can find the nearest charging column.

to charging stations, or who will not want to leave their car charging for a medium-long time, Renault-Nissan has developed an alternative technology in collaboration with the Californian company, Better Place. It is a matter of a fastchange system of the batteries by a robot which takes 40 seconds to perform the operation. Renault-Nissan has proposed a special commercial offer that includes giving customers the opportunity not only to buy but to rent an electric car and undersign a subscription that will include the rental of the battery and mobility services. In this way, the vehicle is being proposed at a price comparable to that of a thermal vehicle with a diesel engine, which is equivalent in size and level of equipment. The cars’ safety

The electric vehicle is part of the automotive world, where there are stan-

dards and required tests established by the international organization ISO (International Organization for Standardization): the crash tests, the elk test, measurement of fuel consumption and performance, etc. However, these vehicles have on-board electrical components whose regulation comes under the responsibility of the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). “The two agencies are collaborating to create the regulations applying only to electric vehicles,” explains Eng. Ferdinand Mapelli of the Polytechnic Institute of Milan, “and at this stage, a fundamental role is being played by manufacturers participating in the international technical meetings where the tests and standards are defined. From the point of view of safety, the crucial element, assessed through the frontal and side crash tests, is that, in the event of a collision, the battery stays


the green shock to the automotive industry

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FLOW —

The Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology in Pfinztal has developed a battery that recharges the flow in a few minutes, just like gasolinepowered cars at traditional distributors

where it is and doesn’t end up where the passengers are seated. Secondly, it is verified that the cradle holding the battery, in the event of a collision, becomes deformed and possibly damages the battery itself, but without spillage of the electrolyte. This, too, is in the case of a collision with a sharp object.” In electric cars, the batteries are generally positioned under the seats, in a central and protected position of the vehicle. The degree of IP protection against water is also important: cars must pass the “fording test,” which verifies that no kind of infiltration occurs in the individual components. “The electromagnetic compatibility is also important,” Mapelli continues. “Large electrical currents are circulating within the vehicle and, thus, electromagnetic fields are generated that must not exceed the limits of the law relating to human health damage. The cables must also have adequate in-

sulation and must not become damaged over time. Furthermore, it is necessary to make sure that the electronic systems are not subject to electromagnetic pollution; in other words, turning on your mobile phone mustn’t turn off the engine. An additional safety factor is the presence of the inertial sensor, a device in current vehicles that, in the event of an accident, acts to turn off the engine while in electrical vehicles, it opens the switch closest to the battery.” The new-generation batteries

Today, scientific research is geared mainly toward optimizing the recharge time and guaranteeing the autonomy of the lithium-ion batteries, but further research is underway to test new types of electrolytes. Here are two of the most important ones. Within the European project “Storage,” hybrid materials are being developed ba-

sed on fibers of carbon and lithium ions which can form the car body but also act as an energy accumulator. The materials made of carbon have the advantage of being solid and, at the same time, lightweight but they are particularly expensive. But if the two things were to be combined (accumulation and autobody), it would be a win-win solution. Another research project is being led by the interest group of the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology in Pfinztal (Germany), which has developed a battery that recharges the flow in a few minutes, just like gasoline-powered cars at traditional distributors. In the flow batteries, the energy is conserved in the electrolyte, i.e., in the liquid in which the electrodes are immersed: when the electrolyte is discharged, it is removed from the battery and replaced with a new charged electrolyte; an operation that takes just a few minutes. 109


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science at the toy store

On Mars, with LEGO by Davide Coero Borga

Lovers of the red planet, budding young astronauts, Spirit and Opportunity can be yours. The two Rovers sent by NASA to Mars are landing in your living room, thanks to a LEGO project: Mindstorms. The end evolution of LEGO Technic, Mindstorms makes us forget those dear old bricks used for generations to construct buildings, machinery and transport equipment. The toys now found on toy store shelves are no longer what they once were. And LEGO products are no exception. Quite the contrary. They are keeping up with avantgarde technology.

The make-ityourself robot With Mindstorms, you can build and program a real robot and make it do whatever you want. And with the purchase of a kit of LEGO bricks, you get everything you need to build and program a unique and intelligent robot. Making it perform different tasks and operations is the responsibility of the child-programmer. The study and application of robotics by children develop a very active attitude toward new technologies: the robots, being real threedimensional objects, perfectly simulate human/ animal behavior. The toy makes a technological leap, abandoning the more traditional constructions and embracing information technology and robotics.

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What is in the box besides the bricks? Over 600 pieces: the elements to build the main structure, including the gears, wheels, tracks and tires. A microcomputer acts as the robot’s brain. Two touch sensors help it to feel the space in which it moves. An ultrasonic sensor allows the robot to see and detect the movement of other objects in space. A color sensor is able to recognize different colors and monitor the intensity of light. Three interactive servo motors with builtin rotation sensors (accuracy is +/- one degree) facilitate the movement of the robot. A series of cables connecting the motors and sensors allow for dialog via computer. LEGO Mindstorms NXT is the second generation of


The robots, being real three-dimensional objects, perfectly simulate human/ animal behavior. The toy makes a technological leap, abandoning the more traditional constructions and embracing information technology and robotics

robotic products by the LEGO Group, which was first launched in 1998 with the Robotic Invention System. NXT 1.0 has been a huge success: intuitive, icon-based dragand-drop, it is a software that is simple enough for new users and flexible enough to provide power for advanced users. By selecting blocks of the program working with motors and sensors, you can create programs that range from simple to complex. And everything others have already built can be seen online. You can share your own inventions with them: a community of nerds, passionate and enthusiastic children, who can also be found in real life at dedicated events and competitions. Although the basic kit comes with instructions for the construction of four models, here we are already beyond the solar system.

Robot to patent The idea is fascinating; that a robot vehicle, a toy, is capable of protecting a child’s room and shooting balls at intruders. A robot-like machine that recognizes

different colored objects and picks up and puts them away as you like, and can lend a hand to those who are even messier. Provided that the color sorter system can always be changed with a catapult mechanism able to accurately shoot balls of different colors, depending on the colors that one prefers. Still others are humanoid robots, easy to assemble and with more features: they walk, run, dance, speak with a voice synthesizer, can see and avoid obstacles in their path, grab, jump, react in an intelligent way ... if programmed well. On the occasion of Engineers’ Week, a program, supported by IBM, has been launched for the dissemination of scientific culture in schools, as well as an educational workshop entitled “Mission to Mars,” which consists of designing and planning a virtual Rover landing on Mars to perform a specific task: retrieve a rock sample from the ground and carry it onto the spacecraft. An activity also taken up by museums and science festivals. Because playing is always a privileged access key to science.

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oxygen 2007/2012 Andrio Abero Giuseppe Accorinti Zhores Alferov Enrico Alleva Colin Anderson martin Angioni Ignacio A. Antoñanzas Paola Antonelli Antonio Badini roberto Bagnoli Andrea Bajani Pablo Balbontin Philip Ball Ugo Bardi Paolo Barelli Vincenzo Balzani roberto Battiston Enrico Bellone Carlo Bernardini Tobias Bernhard michael Bevan Piero Bevilacqua Nick Bilton Andrew Blum Borja Prado Eulate Albino Claudio Bosio Stewart Brand Luigino Bruni Giuseppe Bruzzaniti massimiano Bucchi Pino Buongiorno Tania Cagnotto michele Calcaterra Paola Capatano maurizio Caprara Carlo Carraro Federico Casalegno Stefano Caserini Valerio Castronovo Ilaria Catastini marco Cattaneo Silvia Ceriani Corrado Clini Co+Life/Stine Norden Søren rud Elena Comelli Ashley Cooper Paolo Costa manlio F. Coviello George Coyne Paul Crutzen Brunello Cucinelli Partha Dasgupta mario De Caro Giulio De Leo michele De Lucchi ron Dembo

Gennaro De michele Gianluca Diegoli Peter Droege Freeman Dyson magdalena Echeverría Daniel Egnéus John Elkington richard Ernst Daniel Esty monica Fabris Carlo Falciola Alessandro Farruggia Francesco Ferrari Paolo Ferri Tim Flach Stephen Frink Antonio Galdo Attilio Geroni Enrico Giovannini marcos Gonzàlez David Gross Julia Guther Søren Hermansen Thomas P. Hughes Jeffrey Inaba Christian kaiser George kell Parag khanna Sir David king mervyn E. king Hans Jurgen köch Charles Landry David Lane manuela Lehnus Johan Lehrer Giovanni Lelli François Lenoir Jean marc Lévy-Leblond Ignazio Licata Armin Linke Giuseppe Longo Arturo Lorenzoni L. Hunter Lovins mindy Lubber remo Lucchi Tommaso maccararo Giovanni malagò renato mannheimer Vittorio marchis Jeremy m. martin Paolo martinello massimiliano mascolo mark maslin Ian mcEwan John mcNeill Daniela mecenate Lorena medel

Joel meyerowitz Stefano micelli Paddy mills Giovanni minoli marcella miriello Antonio moccaldi renata molho Carmen monforte Patrick moore Luca morena Luis Alberto moreno richard A. muller Teresina muñoz-Nájar Ugo Nespolo Nicola Nosengo Helga Nowotny Alexander Ochs robert Oerter Alberto Oliverio Sheila Olmstead Vanessa Orco James Osborne rajendra k. Pachauri mario Pagliaro Francesco Paresce Claudio Pasqualetto Alberto Pastore Federica Pellegrini matteo Pericoli Emanuele Perugini Carlo Petrini Telmo Pievani Tommaso Pincio michelangelo Pistoletto Viviana Poletti Stefania Prestigiacomo Giovanni Previdi Filippo Preziosi marco rainò Federico rampini Jorgen randers Carlo ratti Henri revol marco ricotti Sergio risaliti kevin roberts Lew robertson kim Stanley robinson Alexis rosenfeld John ross marina rossi Bunker roy Jeffrey D. Sachs Gerge Saliba Juan manuel Santos Tomàs Saraceno Saskia Sassen

Steven Shapin Clay Shirky Uberto Siola Craig N. Smith Antonio Sofi Leena Srivastava Francesco Starace robert Stavins Bruce Sterling Stephen Tindale Chicco Testa Chiara Tonelli mario Tozzi Ilaria Turba Luis Alberto Urrea Andrea Vaccari Nick Veasey Jules Verne Umberto Veronesi marta Vincenzi Alessandra Viola mathis Wackernagel Gabrielle Walker Elin Williams Changhua Wu kandeh k. Yumkella Edoardo Zanchini Carl Zimmer

Testata registrata presso il tribunale di Torino Autorizzazione n. 76 del 16 luglio 2007 Iscrizione al roc n. 16116


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OXYGEN n. 16 - Enel. The future for the past 50 years