(Recasts, adds CEO comments)
MILAN, March 18 (Reuters) - Europe’s biggest utility, Enel , stuck to its targets for the year after beating earnings expectations, pledging to expand its clean energy business and cut its carbon footprint.
Enel said in November it would spend 160 billion euros ($190.5 billion) of its own money over the next 10 years to become a green “super major”, becoming carbon-free by 2050.
On Thursday, it said it would accelerate investments in renewable energy and networks to drive growth as economies around the world look to electrification to cut carbon emissions.
“I see no risk to dividend payments since guidance has been achieved and this year will be a little better than 2020,” Chief Executive Francesco Starace told a call on full-year results.
Europe’s big utilities are investing heavily in the clean parts of their businesses as technological progress and more stringent rules to tackle climate change force energy companies, including big oil players, to rethink strategies.
Enel said its ordinary net profit last year was 5.197 billion euros ($6.2 billion), above an analyst consensus of 5.113 billion euros. The ordinary net profit was up 9% from the previous year’s 4.767 billion euros.
It will pay a dividend on last year’s results of 0.358 euro per share, 9.1% higher than in the previous year.
The group, which controls Spanish utility Endesa, is looking to cut its carbon emissions 80% by 2030 and nearly triple its renewables capacity to 120 gigawatts.
It said it added a record 3.1 gigawatts of green energy capacity to its portfolio last year and expected to add more than 5 GW this year.
Enel said 65% of its power production last year was emission-free compared with 57% the previous year, thanks to a marked reduction in coal power generation.
It shut down 2.8 GW of coal capacity last year and has brought forward the phase-out of its coal production to 2027 from 2030.
“We’re on a good track to reach that target,” Starace said.($1 = 0.8387 euros) ($1 = 0.8399 euros) (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes: Editing by Giulia Segreti, Kirsten Donovan and Peter Cooney)