Joining forces with regional partners for the energy transition: Digital – Regional – Together

1 July 2020
Schulterblick

“Schulterblick” event, presented by E.ON and Digital Campus Zollverein, provided a glimpse into the latest  developments.

This year’s “Schulterblick” (“glimpse over the shoulder”) event, the third in the series presented by Digital Campus Zollverein and the first one organized by E.ON, followed its main idea “Digital - Regional – Together”. Due to the current pandemic, around 100 managers across various industries in the region met online for a virtual discussion. Representatives of the Emschergenossenschaft and Lippeverband, the neusta team and E.ON presented B2B solutions with a focus on sustainability and climate protection, discussing how these applications may be used in other industries.

While the eventstarted off in a very different and slightly artificial setting, just minutes into it all the participants became comfortable with the online environment.. The decision to move the event to virtual space was a further reminder of the significant boost that digitization has received in recent months due to Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Digital Campus Zollverein initiative was established in 2019 by renowned businesses and other partners in the Ruhr region to jointly develop digital business models for an era of digital transformation. The initiative is mainly dedicated to supporting knowledge exchange among the region's partners. The objective is to foster long-term, cross-industry partnerships between businesses, startups, political and science institutions in response to the challenges of digitisation. Thomas König, COO of E.ON, says: “By investing in customer-centered energy infrastructure we facilitate the energy transition. Over the next three years, E.ON will invest roughly 10 billion euros in the design and implementation of a sustainable energy grid. As part of the European green post-coronavirus recovery strategy, we have increased this budget by another 500 million euros ear-marked for high-impact regional projects.”

The demands of tomorrow can only be met through digitization
Paul French E.ON

The main focus of the third Schulterblick event was on shaping a new, sustainable energy future based on decarbonisation, decentralisation and digitisation. It was kicked off by E.ON´s COO Thomas König live from the E.ON headquarters in Essen. He was joined on stage by team neusta Managing Director Heinz Kierchhoff, Emanuel Grün of the Emschergenossenschaft and Lippeverband’s Board of Directors, and Christian Kleinhans, Managing Director of Digital Campus Zollverein.

During the opening, Thomas König explained how the transformation of energy infrastructure is shaping the E.ON network business. Today, roughly 800,000 renewables facilities are already integrated in E.ON networks in Germany. With an installed capacity of 64 GW, this is more than half of Germany's green power capacity, and this number will continue to grow massively. Consequently, innovation and digital solutions are key issues for the radical transformation of distribution networks. To meet these challenges, E.ON invests approx. 250 million euros per annum in network digitization projects.RaaS is an excellent example of E.ON’s contribution to forward-thinking projects that speed up an affordable energy transition. Commenting on the collaboration, Paul French, Director & Country Head of E.ON B2B Energy Solutions UK, said: “For us at E.ON and for our customers sustainability, reliability and resilience are not conflicting, but complementary aspects of the future energy system. With the Resilience as a Service project, we will demonstrate not only how resilience and reliability can be improved at lower cost for our customers, we will also show how this can be done in a carbon neutral way by applying new technologies and smart controls. We are looking forward to this collaboration with SSEN and Costain and the opportunity to contribute to another small but important step towards a sustainable and CO2-free future.”

At the core of RaaS there will be a battery energy storage system that is able to re-establish an area’s supply in case of an outage through leveraging local renewable energy assets. RaaS puts into practice several key learnings from another one of E.ON’s projects in Simris. By combining renewables, energy storage and smart energy management techniques, this small town in Sweden is now able to run on 100% renewable power. It can also seamlessly re-connect to the regional grid at any time.

Four projects, including E.ON´s DigiKoo and Robotic Automation, presented at the event

Four digital projects have been presented during the event to illustrate how the use of digialisation secure the economic and sustainable future of the Ruhr region. The deployment of new, digital technologies is an ideal lever for more sustainability and climate protection. Following their respective contributions, the distinguished participants from the worlds of business, politics and science took the opportunity to share their views on their various approaches and the possibilities of using technologies and solutions across sectors in a digital dialogue.

 E.ON took the chance to introduce two new digital products: DigiKoo and Robotic Process Automation.  Digikoo (from the German “digitale Kooperation”/digital collaboration) is a digital platform for network operators, public utilities and local authorities. Developed by an internal startup, DigiKoo merges network environment data from various sources. This way it generates new insights and supports decision-making in the energy networks and energy services. With this approach, DigiKoo empowers decision makers to design the energy transition.

Robotic Process Automation facilitates the automation of manual and repetitive operations while increasing process efficiencies and taking over such repetitive manual activities from teams. As robotics and process automation are relevant across industries, E.ON's “digital worker” can be deployed in a wide range of sectors. 

The other two projects presented during the event were Water Management 4.0 project by Emschergenossenschaft Lippeverband and Knowledge4Retail by neusta. Water Management 4.0 provided an impressive presentation of how digitized plant control systems can transform water management. It is one more area in which data management and science support work processes based on artificial intelligence and virtual reality technologies. The platform-based solution Knowledge4Retail put digital replicas of physical entities on the spotlight and customer service based on digital solutions can help to stay competitive in an increasingly online-dominated market.RaaS is an excellent example of E.ON’s contribution to forward-thinking projects that speed up an affordable energy transition. Commenting on the collaboration, Paul French, Director & Country Head of E.ON B2B Energy Solutions UK, said: “For us at E.ON and for our customers sustainability, reliability and resilience are not conflicting, but complementary aspects of the future energy system. With the Resilience as a Service project, we will demonstrate not only how resilience and reliability can be improved at lower cost for our customers, we will also show how this can be done in a carbon neutral way by applying new technologies and smart controls. We are looking forward to this collaboration with SSEN and Costain and the opportunity to contribute to another small but important step towards a sustainable and CO2-free future.”

At the core of RaaS there will be a battery energy storage system that is able to re-establish an area’s supply in case of an outage through leveraging local renewable energy assets. RaaS puts into practice several key learnings from another one of E.ON’s projects in Simris. By combining renewables, energy storage and smart energy management techniques, this small town in Sweden is now able to run on 100% renewable power. It can also seamlessly re-connect to the regional grid at any time.

Mastering the energy transition is a team effort

If further proof was needed that successfully implementing the energy transition is a global task, the “Schulterblick” clearly provided it. Only when we share our insights and know-how across organisations, will we be able to meet the new demands of increasingly complex processes of a digital age. To this end, we need strong, equal partnerships across all levels, from startups to municipalities, public utilities and large corporations.

As E.ON COO Thomas König put it: “The third Schulterblick event, aptly titled ‘Digital, Regional, Together’ and organized by Digital Campus Zollverein, illustrates that a successful energy transition needs to be a joint effort based on strong, equal partnerships. All digital solutions developed by E.ON over the past few years have resulted from such joint efforts – with partners ranging from major tech corporations to research institutions, universities, and startups.”

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