of 350 energy experts surveyed say that by the year 2040, the "Internet of Things" will probably largely self-regulate tomorrow´s energy world.
Time for Plan B
The energy industry must change. Conventional resources for energy generation, such as coal and oil, are increasingly coming under criticism. It's time for a Plan B: Renewable forms of energy – which are regarded as the most important pillar for a sustainable energy world.
In the meantime, wind power and solar energy have reached a cost level that is competitive with conventional technologies. That is why today wind power plant and solar projects can be carried out in many countries without financial subsidies.
But generating electricity from renewable energy sources also means that it is increasingly being generated on a decentralised basis. Electricity no longer comes from just a few large power plants, but, for example, from a lot of onshore and offshore wind parks and solar farms distributed at sea and on land.
But what do we do if the wind stops blowing and the sun does not shine? Or if we produce more energy than what we currently need? For an energy market to be sustainable, we need solutions that can systematically manage supply and demand and optimally integrate energy generated from distributed sources into the grids. The solution: intelligent energy networks - so-called smart grids. With these, green electricity can intelligently be fed into the grid system and be accessed whenever it's needed.
But is this enough to create a sustainable energy future? Yet another important component needs to be added: energy efficiency. Consuming less energy is good for the climate – and saves the consumer money. What we need are innovative energy solutions that achieve a high level of performance with a minimum amount of energy. But consumers also need to know where their own power guzzlers are hiding and when it makes sense to generate their own energy themselves.
As an energy supplier, we want to help shape this newly emerging energy world. This is also reflected in our business model, which is focused on creating the infrastructure for the energy world of the future and offering solutions that let our customers use it to their best advantage.
Group wide, 13 TWh of electricity was generated from renewables in 2016. This is enough to supply about three million four-person households with electricity for an entire year.
Since 2007, we have invested over 10 billion euros in the expansion of renewables.
More "green electricity"
We are making our contribution to the energy transition. Our goals: to further promote climate-friendly energy supplies by expanding wind and solar power systems and by exploiting the growth opportunities they give rise to.
What exactly does that involve?
We invest primarily in medium- to large scale on- and offshore wind turbines. The solar energy business also continues to grow. In addition to major projects in the gigawatt range, we also cater to the needs of medium-sized companies and residential customers. We have ready-made solutions that they can use to produce their own green electricity. These comprehensive packages include installation as well as operation and maintenance of the equipment. Our many years of experience and extensive investments in recent years are paying off, making us genuine experts for renewables.
But we want to do more. That is why we are developing innovative solutions that will enable our wind and solar systems to produce even more cost-effective electricity in the future. And we are working to make more efficient use of renewable forms of energy, for example through new storage technologies. This allows our wind turbines to work around the clock without overloading the grids with the excess energy they generate.
A home run for wind energy
112 turbines have been busily turning their rotors since 2016 – supplying no less than 64,000 households with electricity. The Colbeck's Corner onshore wind farm in Texas marks another milestone in the field of renewables. And the ingenious thing about it is: it cost significantly less to build than its neighbour, the Pyron wind farm, built in 2009. Colbeck's Corner is our 20th project in the US. In North America alone, we are already operating wind projects with a volume of 3.1 GW. This puts us in the major leagues of wind farm operators in the US – a home run for wind power.
Renewable and reliable
One-third of all the distributed systems being subsidised in Germany through the Renewable Energy Act (German: Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz – EEG) are already connected to our distribution grids. This makes us a true trailblazer: no other company feeds more green electricity into the German grid networks.
But this also means that we need to provide distribution grids that can take better advantage of this new decentralised energy supply. How? Having the right mix is key – which we achieve by combining our conventional and our intelligent grids, the so-called smart grids. This will help ensure a secure and reliable supply of power in the future.
But we are thinking even further ahead by focusing our efforts at innovation on fluctuations in feed-in caused by the fact that renewable energies generate more and less electricity depending on weather conditions. We are developing solutions that can compensate for these fluctuations. Using battery storage, for example, it is possible to react in a matter of seconds by either storing energy or feeding it into the grid. Battery storage is already part of our wide range of integrated energy solutions.
A mega battery for the UK
Word of our ability to build energy storage systems has also spread to the UK, where we received an order for a battery bulk storage system in 2016. This is helping the British grid operator, National Grid, to compensate for grid fluctuations caused by the feed-in of wind and solar energy. No matter whether it's industry, businesses or residential households - Britain's green isle needs green electricity. That’s what makes our ten-megawatt battery so attractive - one of the first of its kind in Britain.
37 minutes was how long on average our customers in Germany were affected by power outages in 2016. In 2016, we were able to reduce outages in practically every country where we operate.
Saving Energy 2.0
A sustainable energy supply is not just about generating electricity using renewables. In a period that is seeing a rise in energy consumption around the world, energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important. This applies to individual customers as well as to customers in business, manufacturing and the public sector. We have the right solution for everyone – from systems that provide for the decentralised generation of electricity and heat to energy efficiency measures, such as optimised lighting and air-conditioning systems.
With our digital energy management solutions, our customers can keep an eye on their own energy consumption, helping them find effective ways to save energy. Using apps, individual consumers can, for example, instantly see the impact that changes in their use of electronic appliances have on their energy consumption. This is made possible by our smart meters, digital electricity meters that we are now in the process of introducing across the board.
Energy efficiency solutions are an important growth market for us. That is why we are continuing to expand our services in that area.
Our projects for business and industry resulted in a total of approximately 31.8 GWh in energy savings in 2016. By comparison, under optimal conditions a modern wind turbine can generate 4 to 7 GWh of electricity per year.
Excellence in energy efficiency
In November 2016, we received the 2nd prize of the "Energy Efficiency Award" together with our customer Pilkington Automotive Deutschland GmbH. The German Energy Agency (dena) honoured the successful energy efficiency project at the international glass manufacturer's Aken site in Saxony-Anhalt with this award. Through the measures we took, Pilkington is now able to operate its lighting, air-conditioning and ventilation systems as well as heat and power systems at the peak of efficiency. The result: 40 percent lower energy costs for building service technologies. "Systematic and successful exploitation of energy savings" is the official rationale for the prize. "Good work," is how we put it.