The 2022 results highlight the strength and resilience of the Group's business model. Despite the strong development drive that led to an increase in capital expenditure, the Group kept its net financial debt below planned levels, at 3.3 billion Euro, thanks to the efficient management of net trade working capital in a very volatile environment affected by rising energy commodity prices. Gross Operating Margin (EBITDA) amounted to approximately 1.06 billion Euro, up 3.8% compared to 2021 and 6.4% net of non-recurring effects: an overall increase, negatively influenced by the impact of drought on the energy chain, by the lower consumption of district heating due to milder temperatures, and by higher operating costs due to inflation. The Group Net Profit, equal to 226 million Euro, was also affected by the negative extraordinary impact of the Solidarity Contribution, while compared to a 2021 net profit positively influenced by non-recurring tax income and other contingent assets. Finally, the Group's workforce is growing (up by about 1,500), totalling 10,583 employees at the end of 2022.
The results of the closed financial year are accompanied by an overall positive trend in the sustainability indicators relating to the objectives of the three pillars of the Strategic Plan.
Regarding the green transition, electricity production from photovoltaic plants increased tenfold during the year, although reduced hydroelectric production, caused by drought, led to a slight worsening of carbon intensity, equal to 339 gCO2/kWh. The production of biomethane more than doubled compared to the previous year, reaching 5.8 million cubic metres: an increase in the valorisation of waste as an energy source that goes hand in hand with its valorisation as material, grown by 40% compared to 2021, which saw 836,000 tonnes of waste sent for recovery in Group plants. The total energy savings of the production processes amount to about 700,000 toe. Finally, the green energy sold has increased, aimed at encouraging sustainable consumption and reducing the environmental impact generated by our customers. In addition, to support the Strategic Plan, the Group has signed several ESG Sustainability Linked loans whose spread is linked to the achievement of specific environmental objectives related to decarbonization and the rational use of water resources. In terms of strategic directions oriented towards local presence, the amount of investments made to increase the efficiency of infrastructure and services and to maximise business development opportunities in the reference territories is emphasised: this amounts to 1.4 billion Euro (gross).