Iren is an Italian multiutility company operating in the sectors of electricity, thermal energy for district heating and gas, and in the management of integrated water, environmental and technological services.
The Iren Group, that serves a multiregional catchment area, is made up of the industrial holding company Iren S.p.A. and four fully controlled business companies operating in their specific sectors: Iren Energia in the electricity, heat and technological services sectors, Iren Mercato as regards the sale of electricity, gas and district heating, IRETI in the gas and electricity distribution business and in the integrated water service, and Iren Ambiente in the waste collection, in the design and management of waste treatment and disposal plants and in the renewable energies sector.
The main mission of the company is to offer the best integrated management of energy, water and environmental resources with innovative and sustainable solutions to create value over time. Being a multiutility company, Iren plays a crucial role in the ecological transition that is pursued in all the fields of operation, thanks to a high level of technological know-how and a vocation for reliability, innovation, and local roots.
Multiutility companies and ecological transition
Multiutility companies are defined as companies whose goal is to provide several different public services, such as energy production, distribution and management (electricity, gas, heat), water and waste management, transport and telecommunications.
Until a few decades ago, renewable energy sources (RES) and innovative technologies were still seen as the result of investments by individuals or small independent companies, which until then had remained completely extraneous to the dynamics of the energy market. However, with the increasing technical maturity of renewable technologies and their decreasing costs, also thanks to huge investments, the principles and technologies of the ecological transition started to permeate in the market. In this way, multiutility companies were able to start changing their paradigms as well, shifting towards sustainability values in all the fields of operation, becoming the real protagonists of the ecological transition for the next decades.
The transition, in fact, is a very complex process composed of many small pieces of a big puzzle, that can be treated only in a coordinated framework, in which all the different sectors (energy, distribution, environmental, technology, etc.) must collaborate. For example, there is a strong link between the energy and the environmental sectors (the climate change issue is the main proof), or with technological services (for example, an effective and digitalized control system strongly helps the energy transition). In this framework, multiutility companies are fundamental, being able to manage together the different aspects of the complex puzzle of sustainability, with coordinated actions.
The contribution of Iren to sustainability
Iren is one of the most important multiutility companies in Italy. Their contribution to sustainability will be very important, pursuing the energy transition and the circular economy principles soon; this vision is well explained in their Industrial Plan @ 2030, that foresees 12.7 billion euros in investments.
This ambitious 10 years Iren’s industrial plan aims to design a sustainable future for its territories, for the benefit of the communities served by the company. The objectives range from decarbonization to the development of renewable energy, the circular economy and energy efficiency, passing through the protection of natural resources. The Business Plan, in fact, defines explicit sustainability objectives, determining a commitment to produce tangible results consistent with 8 of the 17 targets to be achieved by 2030 according to the UN Agenda (SDGs). More specifically, the focus areas of intervention are decarbonization (SDGs 7, 13), circular economy (SDGs 12, 13), water resources (SDGs 6, 14, 13), resilient cities (SDGs 9, 11, 13) and people (SDGs 5, 8).
More than 80% of the total investments (8.7 billion euros) will be exploited for sustainable investments, driven by decarbonization and a circular economy.
Regarding decarbonization, renewable energy sources will be pushed together with the installation of storage systems, favoring the abandonment of pollutant energy systems. District heating systems will be expanded (Iren is the first company in Italy in this field, and already owns the biggest Italian network, in Turin), as well as waste to energy plants. Moreover, the gas network will be renewed to be able to host hydrogen, as a new energy vector together with natural gas.
Circular economy will be the reference paradigm, favoring the recycling of wastes and their valorization. Also, water supply networks will be optimized to reduce the water losses, to further improve the water quality and to favor the water reuse.
The “circular economy” paradigm: some examples
Iren aims to grow nationally, strengthen its resilience and become a leading operator in sustainability through the development of a circular economy, confirming the strong roots in the historical reference territories both through a constant improvement in the quality of the services offered and as a driving force of the local economy.
Some real examples of this circular economy already implemented by Iren are reported below, together with the aim they are pursuing.
- Adding value to waste:
- an on-site plant in Vercelli producing pallets from wood wastes;
- the acquisition of the company I.Blu, for the production of polymers from plastic waste;
- waste to energy plants, producing power from municipal solid wastes.
- Sustainable use of water resources:
- an innovative wastewater treatment plant in Mancasale (Reggio Emilia), where water is then reused in irrigation;
- a wastewater treatment plant producing biomethane from sludges in Roncocesi (Reggio Emilia).
- Green energy transition:
- utilization of renewable energy plants, including innovative hydroelectric plants;
- cogeneration plants, like the one in Moncalieri (Turin) that is one the most important electricity and heat production hubs in Italy;
- district heating systems: Turin’s network is already one of the biggest district heating systems in Europe and the biggest in Italy;
- promoting increased energy efficiency in buildings (to plan the future smart cities);
promoting electric mobility (for example, with the brand IrenGo) and its integration in the grid.
- Multiutility companies are the emerging protagonists of the ecological transition.
- More than 80% of Iren’s investments for 2030 will deal with sustainable projects.
- Iren’s circular economy is the new paradigm representing their 2030 plan.