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A2A at the Ambrosetti Forum

A2A at the Ambrosetti Forum. Comment of the CEO, Renato Mazzoncini, on the role of multiutilities

A2A's CEO Renato Mazzoncini spoke at the Ambrosetti Forum about the role of Multiutilities as an example of widespread and organised corporate social responsibility. 
Below is his speech.


The historical period we are currently going through, recently also characterised by the serious Covid-19 health emergency, will surely be remembered for the incredible effort of the community towards a more sustainable economy aimed at safeguarding our planet. 
In this context, multiutilities, by the very nature of their business, play a central role, overseeing the key dimensions of the sustainable transition process (e.g. renewable energy production and circular economy). These activities make a significant contribution to the achievement of 9 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) introduced by the United Nations' 2030 Agenda. 

Indeed, Multiutilities represent an example of widespread and organised corporate social responsibility: the provision of essential services, such as energy, water and waste management, makes them a strategic player in meeting the needs of citizens and local areas. Moreover, their governance, which in the case of the main Italian listed companies, in addition to a public majority, also has a private shareholding, generates a high level of accountability at all levels of their operations. This translates into a synergistic and constant relationship with citizens, policy makers and economic and financial operators. 

In order to asses the role of multiutilities in the sustainable revival of Italy, The European House – Ambrosetti, in collaboration with A2A, has mapped the state of the art of the Italian regions, the existing gaps and how to bridge them in the three key areas of their work: energy, environment and water cycle. To achieve the decarbonisation targets, it is first and foremost necessary to increase the use of renewable energy sources. 

The analyses of the study show that Italy, with the trend of the last 5 years, will not reach the final energy consumption targets set by the Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) by 2030, with a gap of more than 7 percentage points. Increasing renewable installed power in electricity generation is essential to reach the target, but Italy is still proceeding too slowly: at current rates, the installed power gap will be approx. 2,200 MW by 2025 and approx. 2,400 MW by 2030 for wind power and as much as 3,700 MW by 2025 and over 23,000 MW by 2030 for photovoltaic systems. This delay is due to long and complex authorisation procedures. Utility scale installations have to request the single authorisation which, in certain practical cases, has taken up to 8 years: it is necessary to speed up the process as much as possible.  

Important developments for the sustainable transition of Italy are coming from the Circular Economy Package of the European Commission, which requires preference to be given to forms of waste management aimed at the recovery of material and use of residual waste as energy, while minimising the use of landfills. However, while the most virtuous European countries have almost eliminated the use of landfills (e.g. Sweden and Finland 0.7%, Germany 0.8%, Belgium 1%), Italy is still far from the binding 10% target set by the Circular Economy Package for 2035, with 21.5% of municipal waste going to landfills. Also in this case, Italy is suffering from a significant gap in installations: the landfill capacity of many regions is running out and 13 out of 20 regions will already saturate disposal capacity by 2020: 2.2 million tonnes of waste will exceed current capacity at the end of the year, at great cost to the regions.  

Installation gaps and significant regional variations also characterise the third pillar of the study, the water cycle. Italy has obsolete water infrastructures (60% of the infrastructures are more than 30 years old and 25% more than 50 years old) and half of the water distributed is lost (47.9%, compared to a European average of 23%), with a very heterogeneous situation among the different regions. The country also has a variegated situation with regard to the capacity to purify and treat wastewater, with an average Italian coverage of 85%, which is further reduced if the treated load is analysed, reaching 78.5% at the Italian level, with negative peaks of 68.9%. For this reason, Italy is subject to 4 infringement proceedings, with 2 confirmed rulings. Moreover, these infringements are the result of violations for different types of installations and therefore each of them is linked to several hundred non-compliant installations. Urgent action is needed to resolve this situation.  

Overall, the study estimates that Italy will have to pay a total of no less than €500 million for the entire period of non-compliance since the ruling was issued (between 2018 and 2024). Although there has been an improvement in recent years, with 40 Euros per inhabitant per year (compared to an annual European average of 100 Euros per inhabitant), Italy is at the bottom of the European ranking for investments in the water sector, ahead only of Malta and Romania. Moreover, the current level of the tariff (1.87 Euros/m3, half that of France and 40% of Germany) makes it impossible to bridge the infrastructure gap and promote virtuous behaviour. To give a sense of the real cost of mains water, suffice it to say that a tariff of 1.87 Euros/m3 is equivalent to paying 1.87 Euros for a total of 2,000 half-litre bottles of water (which, on average, would cost approx. 1 Euro each, for a total of 2,000 Euros). Analyzing the ratio between tariff, household expenditure and investments, the consultants of The European House - Ambrosetti have estimated that a tariff increase of 0.10 Euros/m3 would be associated an increase in investments of 20 million Euros and approx. 1,200 new jobs.  

In all areas covered by the study, Italy has a significant gap with European countries that needs to be urgently bridged, combined with a heterogeneous picture at the regional level. The country has a lot of energy and has always given its best in times of difficulty: it's now time for Italy, and it's now time to unleash the energy of the Italian regions in order to make its sustainable revival possible. 

Multiutilities, with their regional dimension, are ready to play a leading role and act as a catalyst for European investment. In order for this to be possible, however, it is necessary to overcome the well-known "NIMBY" ("Not In My Backyard") syndrome by playing, we too at A2A, a proactive role with the Institutions, Associations, social and trade union forces and politics, in listening to the requests of the regions and building transparent pacts for the construction of safe and efficient infrastructures which are necessary for the country and for the quality of life of our communities. A2A will play its part, contributing its share of the funds and acting as a booster of other people's investments
Covid-19 has shown us the importance of caring for the environment around us and this renewed sensitivity must not be lost. Suffice it to say that today we have 0.1 gigawatts of photovoltaic systems, in 2030 we will have 1.5. But we are still using coal. We must speed up the farewell to fossil fuels and create a real environmental breakthrough. To to this, A2A intends to be the promoter of new innovative and essential projects for the country to be proposed to all stakeholders in question, also to facilitate the transposition of funds made available, for example, by Green Deal Europeo and by the Next Generation EU mechanism

At the same time, it is important that citizens also take an active part and learn to use the regulatory and fiscal effort that has been made, also recently, to support sustainable development, which will increasingly require us to pay attention to the environment and the local area.  The road to take is clear, now we just need to go down it, as companies and as citizens. 

The road to take is clear, now we just need to go down it, as companies and as citizens.

I believe that in a national and European context characterized by major differences in the management of services with a high impact on people’s quality of life, multi-utility is becoming increasingly crucial. Our Group can therefore play a very important role at national level: we will present the new Industrial Plan in a few months. It will be our first ten-year Plan and our ambition is to promote sustainable transition with major investments in strategic infrastructure for the country’s growth.


Renato Mazzoncini
Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, A2A


The Circular Economy for A2A

The circular economy is the first pillar of our Sustainability Policy.
To build it, we took our cue from SDG’s 6, 12 and 15 from the UN’s 2020 Agenda on responsible consumption, water management, and biodiversity protection.
For us, having a “circular economy” means reducing and sustainably managing waste across its life cycle, as well as the responsible use of water resources.


NOTE: Only italian version Video

La decarbonizzazione per A2A

Decarbonisation for A2A

Decarbonisation is the second pillar of A2A’s 2030 Sustainability Policy.
For us, reducing our carbon footprint means reducing greenhouse-gas emissions all along the chain of production, where value is generated, as well as in every service we offer to the community.


NOTE: Only italian version Video


Circular Economy: one of the four founding pillars of A2A’s 2030 sustainability policy

What does this involve? Perhaps it goes without saying, but the “circular economy” is the exact opposite of the “linear economy”, which contemplates the following steps:

raw material > design > manufacturing > distribution > use > disposal

Well then, the circular economy re-imagines a product by taking three characteristics into account: design, solidity, material, for the purpose of salvaging its components. Thus, a continuous cycle is created, which we can summarise as follows:

raw materials > design > manufacturing > distribution > use and repair > collection > recycling > new material

According to the OECD, if the trend in manufacturing output from recent years continues, by 2060 the volume of raw materials used to produce objects will have doubled. The European Commission asserts that if companies move towards a circular economy, we could save approximately 24% of the raw materials utilised each year, thereby avoiding anywhere from 425 to 617 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere.

Our company has now incorporated the principles of the circular economy into its way of doing business. We have made three of the UN 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable-Development Goals our own. The UN has identified these goals as of paramount importance for reaching a sustainable economy:

  • SDG 6, Clean water; health and hygiene services
  • SDG 12, Responsible consumption and production
  • SDG 15, Life on Earth

These points are the guiding force for our industrial operations. The result? We place a focus on reducing and managing waste in a sustainable manner throughout its life cycle: The rubbish we collect does not go off to die in a landfill, it is used for other things: it is sent off for recycling, or used as fuel in an energy-production plant. In 2018 alone, 99.7% of collected waste was kept out of landfills. Given the important of water as a source of life and biodiversity, we take steps to manage our water resources in a responsible manner as well. This approach applies from capture all the way through the wastewater purification process. In so doing, we ensure a low loss-percentage rate from the networks, and we increase the capacity and performance of our purifiers.

To summarise, we are amongst the first Italian companies to invest in sustainable development. We have tackled an issue (i.e. the Circular Economy) that is quite challenging to put into practice in our line of work. Yet we have set ambitious goals for ourselves which, in collaboration with the local citizenry, we are confident that we will achieve

La città dello Smart Living

The city of Smart Living

When the technologies of a city work together for the well-being of its citizens: the example of Brescia Smart Living 


When can a city be defined as smart? The answer is: “today”.

Indeed, a number of technologies and processes already exist, laying the foundations for new services in the city of the future.
But is making the individual "elements" (services, processes, infrastructures, networks, sensors, etc ...) that constitute a city intelligent enough to transform it into a "Smart City"?


To answer this question, let's imagine, for example, that someone is taken ill in the street one evening (during a run or a bike ride, or as a result of an accident etc.). A smartwatch may be able to detect any dangerous health-related situations and automatically alert the emergency services by signalling the exact location of the citizen in trouble. On the arrival of the ambulance, intelligent cameras positioned on some of the street lamps which monitor the flow of pedestrians and cars send the street lighting system a signal to increase the luminous flux of the street lamps, thus facilitating the task of the rescuers. Increasing or decreasing street lighting in accordance with need not only enhances safety - it also increases the energy efficiency of the networks.


Living in a smart city means living in a connected, attentive and efficient city.
Everything changes, and the citizen, even just through his or her smartwatch, can access key data and connect to infrastructures that can provide assistance.
In the streets of the city, a simple street light becomes intelligent, and through cameras and sensors, can be used to monitor traffic, enabling other services to be activated if required.

The objects and technologies of a smart city play different roles, and are managed by different systems. It is not enough, however, to make them smart individually: it is essential that these technologies "talk" to one another, and work together in order to help citizens in difficulty, improving life in the city for them.
This is how the new integrated city services of the future are born.


This concept, which is characterised by complex infrastructures, is at the heart of the Brescia Smart Living project. Winner of the MIUR 2012 "Smart Cities and Communities and Social Innovation" award, this project aims to define and test a Smart City prototype for Brescia: creating a more sustainable city in terms of both energy and environment through the integration of different technologies and new services designed to improve the quality of life of the city's inhabitants.
Brescia Smart Living is co-funded by the Ministry of Education, University and Research, with the endorsement of the Commune of Brescia. The project, which was launched in 2015, will end in 2018.


A2A is leading the research and innovation initiative, with the involvement of several Group companies, coordinating over 100 professionals, 10 partners, and a number of universities and research centres.
Transforming these concepts into processes and new services is the desire that drives the various specialists, who work together and use their skills to conceive a new way of seeing our cities, and more specifically, to implement a Smart City project to benefit Brescia's citizens and public administration bodies.


The involvement and collaboration of the key players in a city - municipality, businesses, citizens and service providers - is the fundamental prerequisite that enables the integration of the technologies that facilitate the development of a Smart Living environment. 

Smart City and Sharing Cities

Smart City and Sharing Cities

The termSmart City is currently in vogue, but it is often a fascinating but ill-defined vision of the future rather than an evolving reality.

In fact, the concept of a Smart City is fluid, manifold and, by its very nature, constantly evolving just like urban conglomerates have been for thousands of years.

What will cities be like in the future? This is the question everyone asks themselves and the only limit to this vision is our own imagination. But what most people do not know is that the technology of the future already exists. The not-too-distant future will show us exactly what the evolutions and benefits of such technologies for cities and territories could entail.

Trying to take a snapshot of the present, we can see that the most dynamic cities are being transformed, and parts of them are increasingly seeking to be identified as Smart Cities. In this context, technological innovation plays a key role and allows us to test these technologies today and, consequently, to design scenarios that only a decade ago seemed foreseeable, for those who were able to imagine them, but certainly economically unsustainable.

The reality is that today businesses, public administrations and local communities start using resources (investments, people, and technologies) to design, implement and test the transformation of parts of cities into something “smarter”. It is the acquisition, analysis and use of data that the city has to offer for the generation of new services, which makes cities increasingly “smarter”.


The A2A Group is an active part of the process of transforming the cities in which it operates and does so by integrating the evolution of technology with its services through local, national and European initiatives such as Sharing Cities, an international project which is among the most concrete and prestigious.
Thanks to the integrated involvement of A2A Smart City and Unareti, the A2A Group is part of this project involving the cities of Milan, London, Lisbon, Bordeaux, Warsaw and Burgas.

They are cities that have accepted the challenge of smart evolution in a collaborative manner, sharing different experiences and needs, but above all by engaging in delivering solutions from a vision which is international but scalable, including local added value.
The international comparisons, the wide variety of partners, municipalities, and issues being tackled favour not only mere academic or theoretical discussion, but also a real cultural and technological movement based on open innovation and with unique features.
The aim is to experiment in tracing the right direction towards a future for cities that is coming ever closer.  

The Lighthouse Programme pursues key goals in developing a smart city by addressing issues such as mobility, energy and energy efficiency, housing and economic development.
In particular, the energy upgrading of public and private buildings is covered. New mobility services will be implemented and light poles will be transformed from their basic functionality to become smart elements. Energy Management System software will be installed and a shared citizen platform will be implemented, a tool to make data accessible to everyone.


A2A, A2A Smart City and Unareti are thus furnishing the project with their own skills, technologies and smart systems to help build an intelligent and integrated city:


  • The development of the LoRaWAN network for the Internet of Things;
  • The expansion of WiFi coverage for the Internet of People;
  • The installation of sensors for the collection of parameters related to the quality of the environment, the climate and the safety of citizens;
  • The monitoring of the quantities of electricity and gas used by the families involved in the experiments;
  • The monitoring of electrical substations and public lighting;
  • advanced automation of the power networks.

These are just some of the use cases set up by our Group in continuous collaboration with all its project partners.


Sharing Cities is an example of sustainable innovation because it seeks to make European cities more respectful of the environment and resilient to the effects of climate change.
This is happening today in some urban areas that will be testing the technologies, defining the standards and setting out the basis for replicating what is learned in the rest of today’s cities and those of the future.

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