If Europe is to remain competitive in the face of cheaper energy sources then it must invest in new technology, the chief executive of Italy's largest power company told CNBC.
"If we don't invest in new technologies and improvements it will be difficult to match the competition of emerging markets and America these days," Fulvio Conti, chief executive of Enel said on Tuesday.
His comments came as Europe attempts to solve the growing conundrum of rising energy prices hitting consumers and regional utility companies struggling to increase revenues – particularly in the face of cheaper sources of energy such as shale gas from the U.S.
(Read more: US shale revolution leaving Europe in the cold)
"We have to recognize that we have less of those natural resources available and it is extremely difficult in a place as crowded as Europe to find the vast land of the Midwest where you can extract shale gas freely," Conti remarked.