Pressure to reduce the environmental impact of the energy we all use, allied to factors such as advances in alternative power sources and smarter, more integrated energy technologies have created an energy landscape that is practically unrecognisable from as recently as a decade ago.
These changes underpin the decision by E.ON to grasp the nettle and drastically transform its business. In response to a fundamentally changed market, E.ON has divided into two distinctly focused and financially strong publicly listed companies. The new E.ON focuses on the new energy world, while the conventional generation and energy trading businesses were combined into a distinct company, Uniper, which focuses on the classic energy world.
Johannes Teyssen, E.ON’s chief executive, says: “I’m firmly convinced that E.ON has every chance to play a key role in shaping this new future of energy, with local energy networks that serve as a smart platform for the new energy world, with more and increasingly affordable electricity from renewable sources. And with customer solutions that make it possible for households, companies and communities to have an individually tailored, digitally controlled energy supply.
“Our vision is to improve the quality of people’s lives. We’re already thinking about our customers’ future needs, in tomorrow’s homes and tomorrow’s cities, and developing innovative solutions to meet them.”
As well as generating energy through renewables, E.ON now plays a major role in meeting the challenge of managing the supply of electricity from a huge array of sustainable sources increasingly owned by businesses and householders looking to play a more active role in their energy use. The company can draw upon its vast experience and technical ability to help organise millions of feed-in and consumption sites, and address issues such as under and over-consumption.
Tony Cocker, chief executive at E.ON UK, adds: “2016 was a landmark year for the company. We moved away from the integrated business model of many of our large competitors and separated our coal and gas power stations plus the trading business into an entirely new company, independent of E.ON. We were the first major European energy company to take this path and we will look different from them in the future, because we are different.”
E.ON has every chance to play a key role in shaping this new future of energy, with local energy networks that serve as a smart platform for the new energy world
Mr Cocker says the reorganisation of E.ON’s operations means the company will be free to find new solutions for customers, who are facing significant energy challenges of their own, without having to consider the impacts on other parts of its business. He explains: “We will be able to spend more time listening and working with and for our customers. And by doing so we will be able to put our customers first and help create a better tomorrow.”
E.ON’s change in focus is to connect software, power, heat and mobility in one digital ecosystem. The group is already providing its household and business customers with tangible benefits. Last year, they brought to market in Germany the E.ON Aura, an all-in-one domestic solar system that combines PV panels with an installed battery storage device, energy app and green electricity tariff for householders. More recently, E.ON has worked with the Radisson Blu chain on a groundbreaking fuel cell-based low-emissions hotel in Frankfurt.
Elsewhere, E.ON has partnered with venue operator ACC Liverpool Group to help to make significant improvements in energy efficiency across its three venues and to generate its own renewable energy on-site, making substantial savings on its power bills. Gerald Andrews, finance director at the group which operates the interconnected Echo Arena, BT Convention Centre and Exhibition Centre Liverpool, says: “Being a sustainable venue has been vital to us from the outset and it’s one of the reasons we’re with E.ON. We’ve been with them for eight years and they’ve always provided us with a total energy package rather than simply supplying energy.
“E.ON’s expertise and insight have helped us cut our energy costs and improve our environmental credentials significantly, by managing our energy consumption in a smarter way and installing a wide range of energy-efficiency measures. Now they’re even helping us to generate our own renewable energy with solar panels. As a result, we’ll save around £20,000 off our energy bills and lower our carbon emissions every year for at least the next 20 years. That’s an incredible saving and a huge step forward in terms of being a truly sustainable venue, demonstrating our commitment to the environment, clients and visitors.”
We’re already thinking about our customers’ future needs, in tomorrow’s homes and tomorrow’s cities, and developing innovative solutions to meet them
The group also wants to play a leading role in the transition to e-mobility. The development of charging networks in the UK, Sweden and Germany to offer local authorities and private customers a range of e-mobility products and services, which include charging systems and bespoke pricing scales, has already started. Together with CLEVER, the Danish e-mobility service provider, E.ON has established a platform to drive the development of a rapid charging infrastructure across Europe. The initiative is currently being discussed with car manufacturers and the operators of motorway services and filling stations.
In Denmark, one of the world’s best developed e-mobility markets, E.ON is the owner and operator of 2,500 charging points which saw more than 300,000 charging transactions in 2016. Using customer data, E.ON is developing new services and pricing models for the markets of the future.
E.ON also offers smaller businesses an Energy Toolkit which gives customers the opportunity to analyse their energy consumption patterns in greater detail and identify specific areas where action can be taken and savings can be made. Businesses can also qualify for discounts on energy-saving products such as LED lighting and can track the impact of investment in energy-saving equipment.
E.ON has reacted to the changing energy world by taking the bold step to focus on the renewables revolution. The good news for E.ON’s business customers in the UK is that the company is now in an ideal position to help them overcome their own energy challenges.