Our history | Enel Group

Our story

If you look at our history, you’ll have no doubt about where we're headed. From our beginnings in Italy, our journey has always been dedicated to the future.

The electrical unification of Italy

Enel (originally "Ente Nazionale per l'Energia Elettrica", Italy’s National Electricity Board) was founded in 1962, following legislation passed by the Italian Parliament that united almost all electricity generation, transmission and distribution activities in the country into a single entity. Bringing electricity service to the entire nation – thereby supporting economic growth and bridging the gaps between north and south, and between urban and rural areas – was a tall order, but we rose to the challenge and met it successfully, supporting the country's economic and production boom.

Grids drove the country's innovation

While on the generation front Enel doubled capacity in less than a decade, it’s on the grid that we focused our main efforts and innovations. Thanks to early computerization and automatic planning, we accelerated the expansion of the high-voltage grid, building the first bridge between the transmission systems of central and northern Italy and southern Italy and, through underwater cables, connecting the mainland grid to all the islands, large and small. At the same time, a more extensive grid began to spread throughout the country, bringing electricity to more than half a million rural homes that still lacked it. By the early 1970s, 99% of the country had access to electricity.

Lighting the way for change

The energy crisis that arrived in the 1970s spurred us to explore alternative sources of energy, both nuclear and renewable. We were among the first pioneers of renewable energy: in that decade we built Italy's largest hydroelectric power plant, the Entracque power plant in the province of Cuneo; Italy’s first concentrated solar power plant connected to the grid; the first photovoltaic power plant and the first wind farm in Italy.


Sustainable development

The 1980s saw the rise of modern environmental awareness, and sustainability became a cornerstone of Enel's business strategies, with a new emphasis on protecting the environment, reducing pollution, and an ever-increasing focus on our impact on the territory and local communities. This was also the decade when Italy put a stop to nuclear power, which was abandoned after the 1987 referendum following the Chernobyl disaster, prompting a strategic reassessment of energy sources, and a greater emphasis on renewables.

The liberalization of the electricity market

The 1990s were the years of the liberalization of the electricity market in Europe. The monopoly on electricity production ended, and Enel was asked to drop below 50% of production capacity to leave room for competition with other operators. Production, distribution, and transmission activities were divided among three companies: Enel Produzione, Enel Distribuzione, and Terna, which handled transmission grid management; Enel sold all its shares in Terna in 2005. In November 1999, in what was then the largest public offering of shares on the Italian market, Enel went public.

Digitalization and internationalization

As Enel entered the new millennium, we embraced digital technologies, accelerated the development of renewable sources and strengthened our international presence. In 2001, Enel installed the world's first smart meters, which for the first time allowed energy utilities to read consumption and manage some contractual transactions remotely and allowed customers to be able to check their consumption and costs in real time. In 2008, we launched Enel Green Power, the company that over time would become a world leader in renewable energy sources. This was also the decade of Enel's international expansion, in which, by acquiring Spain's Endesa, we established a major presence in Spain and Latin America.

A world leader in grids and renewables

Over the next decade, Enel continued its growth in renewable sources, becoming a world leader in all renewable technologies: wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal. Distributed generation – where the consumer also becomes a producer of energy thanks mainly to small-scale photovoltaic installations – began to take hold, and to support this development, Enel leaned into the digitalization of electricity grids, turning them into true Smart Grids.

Serving the new consumers

The challenge of recent years has led to the development of a new generation of smart meters and innovative grid technologies that are more flexible, resilient, and increasingly capable of managing the intermittency of energy generated directly from renewable installations or stored in energy storage systems. The new smart grids connect power generation plants, switching stations, storage systems, and end users who have also become producers (prosumers). People have become the real protagonists of the energy transition to reduced-emissions electricity, which is also more environmentally sustainable and more closely aligned with the needs of the local area. 

The electrification of consumption

For Enel’s residential, commercial and industrial customers, the electrification of energy consumption – replacing energy sources based on fossil fuels – is a transformation that requires the support of an energy partner like Enel: reliable, present, and capable of creating value through its presence along the entire value chain. With this mission in mind, we launched Enel X, which aims to offer everyone, everywhere, solutions that make electricity the answer to all energy needs and provide opportunities to create new value through the innovative use of energy.

One of the most important utilities in the world

Today, Enel is a multinational company, present in about 30 countries: we’re the largest private operator in renewables in terms of installed capacity, we serve the largest number of customers in the world with our distribution networks, and we have the largest customer base globally. We are strongly committed to the decarbonization of the energy mix, with the goal of closing our last coal-fired plant by 2027 and the concrete objective of achieving zero CO2 emissions in all areas by 2040.

We want to lead the transformation of the energy sector with a strategy that focuses on sustainability and innovation, both of which are fully integrated into all our decisions.

Enel: a solid company with a bright future, benefiting not only our shareholders but all our stakeholders.

We are opening up a whole new world


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