Growing responsibility

We strive to be a successful company acting with social responsibility and in harmony with natural resources and global climate. Only with a consistent focus on running our business responsibly and sustainably can we help secure our future and create added value for all – our customers, employees, shareholders, business partners and the environment.

How our businesses contribute

Our core businesses are helping make tomorrow’s energy world more sustainable. Our energy networks are where the transition to a low-carbon energy supply is happening: they integrate renewables, connect producers and consumers, and deftly manage complex energy flows. Our customer solutions help customers of all kinds use energy more efficiently, produce their own renewable energy, and thus reduce their carbon footprint.

How we operate

We consider the impact of everything we do. We work continually to minimize our impact on the climate and environment, to comply with laws and our own policies, and to respect human rights. We also want to partner with our employees, customers, and other stakeholders to create value.

Sustainability report 2018

Our reports

Comprehensive information about the sustainability activities we conducted and the progress we made at E.ON.

Our Facts and Figures

Our sustainability activities in the regions

Markers ensure air safety for birds

Our distribution system operators (DSOs) take a variety of actions to prevent birds from colliding with our power lines or perching on energised components. For example, Schleswig-Holstein Netz, our DSO in northern Germany, has installed hundreds of markers on its lines to make them more visible to birds. The markers – strips of black and white plastic that quiver in the wind to catch birds’ attention – are attached to the shield wire above the conductors. In August 2018 Schleswig-Holstein Netz affixed markers to a 9 kilometre segment of high-voltage lines around Marne near the North Sea coast. This and other measures make the skies in our service territories safer for osprey, storks, geese, ducks, swans and other bird species.

Citizen Energy Prize in Bavaria

People who set a good example deserve recognition. Bayernwerk, our distribution system operator in Bavaria, pays tribute to individuals, schools, clubs, and other non-profit organisations that have embraced sustainability with the Citizen Energy Award. It confers the award, whose monetary prizes total €50,000, in five districts of Bavaria with the support of the district government. In 2018 there were three recipients in the district of Lower Franconia. One award (€3,500) recognised a group of volunteers in Marktheidenfeld who published and distributed a booklet containing suggestions for how people can conserve energy and reduce their climate impact. Another prize (€3,500) went to a couple in Saal an der Saale who made their home almost entirely energy-autonomous. The Karlstadt Rowing Club received the award (€3,000) for the energy-smart renovation of its boat- and clubhouse, which included a high-efficiency ventilation unit, heat recovery, and LED lighting. It’s pioneers like this who are helping make the energy transition a reality. The Citizen Energy Award shines a light on their achievements and inspires others to follow their example.

Taking a bird’s eye view to protect frequent flyers

Imagine you’re a raptor. You like to perch on tall objects like power pylons whose energized components are very dangerous. And your flight path is traversed by power lines you sometimes can’t see until the last second. To make our Czech power distribution system safer, we adopt a bird’s perspective. In partnership with the Czech Agency for Nature Conservation and Landscape Protection and the Czech Society for Ornithology, we’ve identified and specially secured the segments of our system that are crucial for bird conservation. For example, we’ve attached high-visibility markers to our lines on avian frequent-flyer routes. In addition, each year we install more than 4,000 perch deterrents, a plastic device that dissuades birds from perching on hazardous components. These safety measures help protect raptors as well as many other bird species.

Partnering with Alzheimer’s Society

Around 850,000 people in Britain live with a form of dementia. Some are our customers, and some are our employees’ family members and friends. We’re working with Alzheimer’s Society, which is our charity partner in Britain for 2016 to 2020, to make E.ON a dementia-friendly community. One way is by supporting Dementia Friends, a social action movement launched by Alzheimer's Society in 2013 to increase people’s understanding of dementia and inspire them to take action to help those affected by it in their community. More than 2 million people across the United Kingdom have become Dementia Friends. We’re proud to say that 4,876 of them are our employees. We’re committed to offering all our employees in Britain a Dementia Friends Information Session and thus help Alzheimer's Society reach its goal of 4 million Dementia Friends by 2020. By becoming a Dementia Friend, our employees agree to support the programme’s five key messages and commit to a dementia-friendly action.

Beyond this programme our colleagues find fun and creative ways to fundraise for the charity to help pay for Dementia Support workers, who provide much needed support to people living with dementia.

Laptops for pupils’ desktops

Kids growing up in the Digital Age need digital learning tools. Enerjisa Üretim, the generation company of our Enerjisa joint venture in Turkey, provided some. In 2018 it donated 28 retired but still perfectly serviceable laptops to needy schools near three of its power stations. The gifts enabled two of the schools to hold technology classes for the first time. The initiative is good for the environment (because it reduces the need for new equipment and saves resources) and good for the communities (because it enriches their kids’ learning environment). Going forward, Enerjisa Üretim intends to periodically review its inventory of laptops and, when it has extras, give them to schools in need.

Bringing the world of energy alive for kids

Today’s children and young people will play a vital role in making tomorrow’s world more sustainable. E.DIS, our distribution system operator in northeast Germany, is helping them become more informed energy users and citizens. In 2018 about 30 E.DIS employees brought their energy IQ and experience to a dozen schools in the company’s service territory in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania. They talked to pupils about the energy transition, the growth of renewables, and job and work-study opportunities at E.DIS. The aim is to bring issues like sustainability and energy efficiency alive for kids. In 2019 E.DIS plans to continue the program and encourage more children and young people to be energy literate, environmentally aware, and climate conscious.

Rewarding creativity, showcasing innovative solutions

Good ideas, particularly ones that promote energy saving and climate protection, deserve recognition. We help provide it in the Czech Republic through the E.ON Energy Globe Award (EGA), the country’s most coveted environmental prize. In 2018 more than 220 projects were submitted to be judged by a panel of renowned experts. Winners receive financial or non-financial prizes and in-kind support for their project. The awards are conferred by leading figures of Czech political and cultural life at a nationally televised ceremony. About 60 percent of the Czech population has seen at least one E.ON EGA show on TV. E.ON Czech has organized the contest since 2008. Nearly 2,400 projects have been submitted so far. 

Better lighting for better learning

When kids read books in half-lit rooms, many parents tell them to “turn on a light or you’ll hurt your eyes”. Whether or not this is a medical fact, children definitely need well-lit classrooms to learn effectively. This hasn’t always been the case in some Romanian schools. So in 2012 E.ON Romania began upgrading the lighting in classrooms, hallways, and gymnasiums in schools in its service territory. In 2018 it installed a total of 15,000 energy-saving LED lights in ten schools. Altogether, it has improved the learning environment for 35,500 kids and teachers in 54 schools, while also enabling the schools to reduce their energy bills and climate impact. This successful programme, which receives numerous inquiries each year from schools eager to participate, has deepened our relationships with communities across our service territory in Romania.

Helping communities monitor and reduce their carbon emissions

According to a famous business adage, if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. That’s a problem faced by communities across Germany that want to reach their climate-protection targets: collecting and analysing emissions data can be complicated and time-consuming. greenited, a Hamburg-based start-up that we co-founded, can help. It has developed a digital tool that crunches complex emissions data and presents them with easy-to-understand graphics. The tool is scientifically certified and intuitive to use. It enables cities and municipalities to get an exact picture of their status quo, design effective climate-protection measures, and track their progress. For example, the tool can simulate the impact of individual measures (like putting solar panels on the roof of a public building), enabling municipal decision-makers to decide which measures make the most sense. The tool is already being used by local governments in Schleswig-Holstein, Bavaria, and Berlin.  

Promoting a circular economy in Sweden

In Upplands-Bro, a community located 35 kilometres northwest of Stockholm, we’re building an advanced material and energy recycling system that will transform something nobody wants (waste) into something everybody wants (energy). It consists of a biogas production plant, which we completed in September 2018, and a biogas-fired cogeneration unit, which we expect to enter service a year later. The system will provide Upplands-Bro’s more than 25,000 residents with heating, electricity and biogas from recovered residual products. It will also produce biofertiliser, returning nutrients to the soil. Close collaboration between E.ON, waste-management and recycling company Ragn-Sells, and the municipality resulted in a truly sustainable solution that will meet customers’ needs while minimising the impact on the environment and the earth’s climate. Moreover the availability of local, sustainable, recycled energy will sharpen Upplands-Bro’s environmental profile, make it a more attractive place to live, and entice sustainability-minded companies to locate there.

Protecting raptors

Power lines pose a hazard to birds. We put the lines up, so it’s on us to make them safer. ZSE, our distribution system operator in west Slovakia, makes its grid bird-friendlier in partnership with Raptor Protection Slovakia (RPS). It has supported RPS’s flagship project, LIFE Energia, since 2003. Active for two decades, LIFE Energia is Slovakia’s first systematic attempt to address the two main hazards of power lines (collision and electrocution), while also improving the nesting, feeding, and breeding conditions for raptors.

ZSE supports LIFE Energia in three ways. To reduce the likelihood of collisions, ZSE equips many of its power lines with bird-diverting markers. To prevent electrocution, it installs devices that deter raptors from perching on the most hazardous components of power pylons as well as insulators on which they can perch safely. To increase nesting opportunities, it places aluminium nest boxes on pylons and artificial nests on poles. Together, these measures help stabilize raptor populations, including those of rare species like the imperial eagle and the saker falcon.

In addition, ZSE is the lead sponsor of another RPS project, which monitors the populations of three raptor species. 

MIND Workplace Wellbeing Index

Having healthy employees who feel valued and supported is essential for our success. An important aspect of health is mental health. To help us find out how well we’re prioritising our people’s mental health, in 2017-2018 our operations in the United Kingdom conducted their first wellbeing survey with over 2,000 employees taking part. The Workplace Wellbeing Index is a benchmark of best employer policies and practices regarding mental health in the workplace, it was developed by MIND, Britain’s leading mental health charity. Encouragingly, we earned a Silver Award for our efforts to foster our employees’ mental health and for making demonstrable progress over time. Moreover, the findings have given us a clear picture of where we currently stand in our approach to mental health and helped us design an action plan to improve our processes to support all employees with their wellbeing.

Helping take e-mobility to the streets

Electric vehicles (EVs), which have great potential for reducing carbon emissions, are still fairly novel. To help promote them in Italy, we introduced Moving@.E.ON, an EV-sharing programme at our offices in Milan and Massazza. We provided five e-cars and five e-bikes which employees and business partners can use for work or personal travel, including taking them home for the weekend. We also installed charging points at our parking facilities and ran a contest whose winner could use one of the e-cars for three weeks in the summer of 2018. Beyond helping spread the culture of electric, sustainable mobility, Moving@.E.ON enables us to test different EV functionalities and to learn more about users’ attitudes toward this new technology. We’re using this valuable feedback to develop and refine our e-mobility solutions for individuals, businesses, and cities.

Helping people get home safely in Sweden

Over ten years ago we discovered a context we hadn’t been aware of before: many young people feel lonely and lack adults to talk to. We also know that places where adults are out and about alongside young people tend to be calmer and safer. We wanted to find a way to show young people that other adults can be there for them and care about them. That is why we started together with Skandia (an insurance company) our foundation in 2008. The foundation offers free counseling, education, insurance and other support to groups arranging night walks (nattvandra) around Sweden. Nattvandra is about just being present, asking how someone feels, listening, maybe helping someone to patch up a wound or borrow your mobile phone. But the few hours that our volunteers share from their time can be of tremendous importance. Many young people who go out in the evenings and nights lack the security that can be provided by responsible adults. Why does it work so well? The volunteers are neutral figures for the young people. They are not trying to be authority figures or parents, just fellow human beings who offer support for everyone who may need help. Through adult involvement, night walk groups create security for children and adolescents in public spaces and contribute to a reduction of drug abuse and street violence, among other things. This, in turn, provides a safer and warmer society for all of us. After ten years of growth, Nattvandring now has 346 groups countrywide consisting of 47000 members who conduct about 15,000 night walks a year. 

Busy as a bee

Plants can only reproduce because bees and other insects are messy eaters. When a bee drinks nectar from a flower, bits of pollen from the stamen (the flower’s male reproductive organ) stick to its body. When the bee goes to the next flower, some of the pollen rubs off onto the stigma (the flower’s female reproductive organ). The result: fertilization and the development of a fruit, like an apple. Unfortunately, monoculture farming and insecticides have reduced Germany’s bee population significantly. Avacon, our distribution system operator in north-central Germany, is taking action to improve the situation. It supports employees who want to keep bees at its high-voltage transformer stations. The locations – mostly rural or on the edge of municipalities and surrounded by a high security fence – are ideal. So far, about 300,000 bees are buzzing through the fields around several Avacon transformer stations. Our employee beekeepers plan to add more hives in 2019.

Making our power network in Hungary bird-friendly

With over 84,000 kilometres of power lines, our network is the largest in Hungary. So we have a big responsibility to make sure it isn’t harmful to wildlife, particularly birds. Birds like to perch on power poles and towers, which puts them at risk of being electrocuted. There’s also the danger that big, less manoeuvrable birds (bustards, cranes, and storks) may collide with power lines and injure themselves.

In partnership with nature conservancy organisations and bird protection specialists, we’ve taken numerous steps over the past ten years to make our network in Hungary bird-friendly. We’ve covered thousands of dangerous components with plastic perch deterrents, placed 4,200 safe nesting boxes on top of power pylons, and attached light-reflecting markers to power lines to make them more visible to birds in flight. These measures are good for birds and for us. They’ve significantly reduced the number of bird deaths as well as the amount of time and materials we expend to repair our network.

But there’s always room for improvement. So in 2018 we partnered with Design Terminal, a Budapest-based start-up incubator, to hold an innovation contest to develop new, more effective perch deterrents. Eight teams of design specialists and university students participated. The winning design, which resembles a bird wing, is being refined and prepared for mass production. We think it will further reduce bird injuries and deaths.

Developing smart meters for transformers in Turkey

In mid-2018 Enerjisa Enerji, the network company of our Enerjisa joint venture in Turkey, completed a two-year project to design a prototype smart meter for its distribution substations. The project was conducted by Enerjisa Enerji’s distribution system operator (DSO) in Başkent, which serves roughly 3.5 million customers in a service territory extending from Ankara to the Black Sea in north-central Turkey. Its purpose was to develop a device that would automatically send metering data from substations to the DSO’s main computer server and therefore make it unnecessary to send employees to the substations, some of which are in remote rural locations, to read the meters. The project team developed 12 prototypes and corresponding software able to:

  • Remotely read consumption, diagnostic, and status data
  • Remotely control the transformers (on/off, load limiting)
  • Detect power outages and defects in the grid
  • Continuously communicate in two of three channels (radio, cellular, and power line)

The next steps are to select the best device, gain regulatory approval for it, and work with a manufacturer to have it mass produced. Enerjisa Enerji hopes to begin installing the meters in 2019.

School supplies for disadvantaged kids

We believe that everyone should have equal access to knowledge and education. Unfortunately, quite a few families in Hungary don’t have enough money to buy their kids all the school supplies they need. Since 2012 we’ve stepped in to help. In partnership with Hungarian Interchurch Aid, at the start of each school year we provide 1,000 disadvantaged elementary school pupils and 500 kindergarteners with a new backpack containing notebooks, pencils, and pens. We involve our employees as well by giving them the opportunity to make monetary or in-kind donations to the programme. In 2018 about 5,000 of our employees in Hungary participated. The programme is part of our commitment to make the communities we serve better places to live.

Raising safety awareness in Romania

Electricity and natural gas power our customers’ lives. But if not used properly, they can be dangerous and even deadly. As part of our commitment to harm-free energy use, since 2012 E.ON Romania has partnered with the National Inspectorate for Emergency Situations to help foster a safety culture in the communities it serves. Employee volunteers – about 600 in all – visit schools, marketplaces, and government offices to give presentations, hand out flyers, and talk to people directly about energy safety. By the end of 2018, the programme has distributed over 5 million safety-related materials and reached an estimated 7.7 million people. Its Facebook page has 16,000 fans and has received about 10,000 posts. 

Lowering barriers for disabled children

Being excluded from a group is hard, particularly for kids. It can bring about feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and loneliness. ZSE, one of our distribution system operators, engages with communities in its service territory in west Slovakia to help make them more inclusive. The ZSE Foundation partners with the Handicapped Aid Association and provides grants to schools to promote the integration of physically handicapped pupils. A more diverse classroom benefits everyone. It gives disabled kids a sense of belonging and challenges them more than a special-needs curriculum. It also makes the classroom a more empathetic, mutually supportive environment. The programme fosters barrier-free access to other activities as well, including sport, leisure, and entertainment.

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