The sum of 615 million Euro will be allocated to innovation and we intend to strengthen our position in all sectors of operation (water, electricity distribution, commercial and trading, environment, generation). We forecast a major upturn in EBITDA, underpinned by the RAB growth in regulated sectors and higher dividends.
The results achieved in recent years have reflected Acea’s ability to systematically exceed the targets set in the business plans. The positive trend in economic-financial results and the major improvement in the quality of services offered to customers have allowed us to present a new plan with even more challenging goals for the period up to 2024.
Total investments: 4.7 billion Euro is forecast by end 2024, including 4.3 billion Euro relating to industrial capex, of which more than 80% will be allocated to regulated businesses. Of the overall plan investments, 615 million Euro will go towards technological innovation projects. The sum of 2.1 billion Euro is related to specific sustainability objectives.
EBITDA: implementation of these investments will support the upturn in EBITDA, which is expected to exceed 1.4 billion Euro in 2024, with an average annual growth of approximately 7%.
The increase in EBITDA is mainly derived from:
RAB: the RAB (Regulatory Asset Base) is expected to show a growth of 34% to 5.9 billion Euro by the end of the plan.
Dividends: 860 million Euro will be available for distribution during the plan’s time frame, with payment of a 0.80 Euro dividend per share in 2021 and an upturn during the plan period.
Debt: the net financial position (NFP) to EBITDA ratio is expected to reach 3x at the end of the plan.
We are the leading Italian operator in the water sector with approximately 9 million residents served across 5 regions, and this area accounted for 53% of our 2020 consolidated EBITDA. As regards the water business, we expect to reach EBITDA of 704 million Euro in 2024, with an average annual growth of 7% during the period 2019-2024. We will invest 2.2 billion Euro during the plan time frame to support sector development and reduce the infrastructural and plant gap in the territories where we operate, focusing on the resilience of infrastructures and expansion of the sewage treatment plants.
We intend to continue protecting the water resource by improving the quality and efficiency of the service offered in our territories of operation through key actions, such as:
We are among the top operators for energy distribution in Italy, with around 9 billion KWh of electricity distributed in 2020. In this area, which accounted for 36% of 2020 EBITDA, we intend to reach EBITDA of 402 million Euro by the end of the plan, with a 2019-2024 average annual growth of 3%. We shall be allocating 1.3 billion Euro to investments for infrastructure resilience and upgrading. In this sector, we plan to become a reference point in the energy transition process with development projects aimed at satisfying the growing electricity demand and the integration of distributed generation within the delivery system.
Insofar as concerns green energy production, EBITDA is expected to reach 62 million Euro by the end of the plan period, with a 2019-2024 average annual growth of 7% and investments totalling 245 million Euro, primarily in M&A, aimed at boosting electricity generation from renewable sources to support the decarbonisation and energy transition processes. We intend to increase our installed photovoltaic plant capacity to 747 MW by the end of 2024, also through partnerships.
We are one of the key national players in the electricity market. In the commercial and trading area, our objective is to achieve EBITDA of 123 million Euro in 2024, reflecting an average annual growth rate of 12%, and a target for 2024 of 1.6 million customers on the free market, with an overall 17% increase in the number of customers. We shall be concentrating above all on the following:
The commercial context, which will become increasingly competitive and challenging after the conclusion of the enhanced protection regime on the electricity market, will offer Acea an opportunity for growth. We in fact intend to play a leading role in the consolidation process that will open up following the complete liberalisation of the sector.
Our involvement in the Waste Management business commenced over 10 years ago, with particular reference to disposal and waste-to-energy. We are one of the leading Italian players in this sector and benchmark operator for Central Italy. By the end of 2024 we expect to reach EBITDA of 127 million Euro, with an average annual growth of 20% during the period 2019-2024, supported by a 445 million Euro investment plan, to be used above all for consolidation of the acquired companies and the development of new M&A projects, enabling an increase in the volume of waste processed by the group to reach 2.9 million tons treated in 2024. We intend to improve the waste recovery cycle, in line with circular economy development objectives, enhancing our role in energy recovery and the disposal of mixed and organic waste as well as waste-to-material (treatment and recycling of paper and plastic) and developing our role within the sector of specific waste.
The know-how developed in more than a century of operations through the company Elabori, a “building-oriented company” for the turnkey management of construction and engineering activities, with over 100 million Euro of services performed each year, is at the disposal of the entire Group.
Moreover, via the acquisition of Simam we have enhanced our infrastructure construction skills, ensuring efficiency and flexibility in the operational management of industrial activities, with particular reference to the circular economy.
Regarding this business area, by the end of 2024 we expect to reach EBITDA of 22 million Euro, with an average annual growth of 12% during the period 2019-2024. Over the plan time frame we intend to invest 71 million Euro, mainly in the implementation of facilities from an EPC (Engineering, Procurement & Construction) perspective.
In recent years we have enhanced our presence and growth in Latin America. In the business plan, we estimate that EBITDA in 2024 will reach 28 million Euro, with accumulated investments amounting to 25 million Euro during the period 2020-2024.