Photo: An Enel Green Power solar plant in the Atakama desert

Meet our Vice-President: Riccardo Amoroso, Enel Green Power

SolarPower Europe sat down with our Vice-President Riccardo Amoroso, Chief Sustainability and Innovation Officer at Enel Green Power, to discuss what he sees in the future for the European solar industry.


SPE: Enel Green Power has recently opened up an Innovation Lab in Catania focusing mainly on the development of solar cells and PV systems. How can increased R&D in the solar industry help create a more sustainable and effective energy system? How can the EU support this innovation?

RA: The European solar value chain of today has multiple strengths in terms of very high level of skills and competencies in R&D, Universities and Research Centers. Additional efforts should be now focused on our capacity to link our very good research centers to industry. This can happen by concentrating available budget for funding into the creation of a positive environment for manufacturing, helping create critical mass.

Our Innovation hub in Catania aims to concretely apply this view, creating an excellence center, working alongside the most promising national and international SMEs, start-ups and research centers, in the search for innovative solutions for new solar generation technologies. Increasing our knowledge of solar technologies and their efficient use helped us to become one of the leading operators in the solar sector.

SPE: As an Italian-based company, Enel Green Power has installed solar power throughout the world from South Africa to South America. What have been the key factors that have facilitated this expansion and what can be done to further improve the competitiveness of the European solar industry?

RA: Enel Green Power is the Enel Group Company dedicated to the international RES development and management. We are active in 5 continents and diversified in the main renewable technologies. Thanks to this diversification we could share best practices across different countries and technologies, gaining competitiveness all over the value chain, in BD, E&C as well as O&M. Moreover, I believe it is the experience we have gained over time and in different areas that has taught us to manage two of the main aspects of each investment in a foreign country - local partners and the local institutional context - by placing ethical aspects, integrity and safety, which are priorities and indispensable requirements at the center of Enel Green Power's model.

Talking about Europe, the main pillars of a European competitiveness strategy for solar are clear although complex to achieve. In my view Europe needs to use its 'Know How' in system building and grid integration - using smart solutions as modules with electronic on board, bifacial modules, smart power plants and integrated solutions (smart grids etc.), hybridization of different renewables covering the load as much as possible. Moreover, it has to develop a model for automated manufacturing of PV modules by leveraging on industry 4.0 reorganization. This will allow Europe to effectively compete with other models diffused in far east countries, mainly based on low labor costs. This has to be done without forgetting the future needs of our citizens in Europe and provide increasingly better services to them.

SPE: You have been the Vice-President of SPE's Board of Directors since 2014, since your time in this role how has SPE and European solar developed?

RA: Compared to only a few years ago, the environment in which our sector operates has changed dramatically. Solar energy can now meet more than 10% of the European demand and it is already the globally cheapest form of power generation (together with wind), both for utility scale as well for smaller distributed generation plants. New technologies are contributing to further decrease solar LCOE across all the solar value-chain, while the digitalisation trend is better allowing the optimal integration of distributed solar energy resources and distributed storage resources with the electricity system, giving the opportunity to more and more residential, commercial and industrial prosumers to become active participants of the electricity market.

There is no sense in talking about a niche anymore, in the same way as there is no sense in talking about a sector with potential. We are mainstream now. Any solution you may have in mind for the future of the energy sector, there is no doubt that PV will play a major role. 



More about Riccardo Amoroso:

Riccardo Amoroso, born in Milan in 1973, holds a master degree cum Laude in Mechanical Engineering from Rome University in Italy and an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA (USA).

After an experience embarked as an officer in the Italian Navy, Riccardo in year 2000 has joined McKinsey, a leading consultancy, where he has focused in the energy industry (with a second focus on airlines, driven by his passion for flying). During his eight years in McKinsey, Riccardo has served several clients in Europe ranging from fully liberalized markets (UK) to liberalizing markets (Eastern Europe) and focusing on all steps of the energy value chain, from generation to transmission, distribution and retail.

In 2008 Riccardo has joined Enel Green Power, taking a leadership role in the solar business managing the Solar Joint Ventures Department. In particular he has led Enel Green Power development effort to set-up two joint ventures: the factory 3Sun (with Sharp and STMicroelectronics) and the off-taker ESSE (with Sharp). Riccardo has then taken the leadership role in the second JV (CEO of ESSE), successfully managing the investment of ca. 100 mn Eur in IPP solar business in Italy, Greece and South Africa.

In 2013 Riccardo has led Enel Green Power efforts in opening the South Africa market, with the successful award in competitive tenders of more than 500MW of solar and wind generation capacity, which now makes Enel Green Power the leading renewable player in the fast-growing African continent. In 2014 has driven the opening of new markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

Since January 2015, Riccardo is the Head of Innovation and Sustainability function for Enel Green Power.